Personal study notes Genesis 20

Friday, June 30, 2006
I am amazed at how little human nature has changed since the beginning of man. Abraham is going to do exactly what we tend to do when faced with a tough challenge or trial. He repeats what worked in the past, even though it is not representative of his new self under God’s guidance. When we are in a tight situation, we keep resorting to what worked in the past, but that is not always in our best interests. Sometimes I think God lets the same situation repeat in our lives until we finally get it and take a different path. God is for us passing our tests, and he will give us a test over and over until we finally pass with an “A”.

Genesis 20 Abraham (King of Jewish nation) and Abimelech (King of the Philistines).

Abraham is going to journey to the South (an area south of the Gaza strip).

Here are the meanings of names: KADESH – means holy
SHUR – means wall
GERAR – means a lodging place, from the root of a
word meaning to catch, destroy, chew, saw
SARAH – noblewoman
ABIMELECH – my father is king
We will see that Abraham did not learn from his previous mistake, he will repeat it again with Abimelech. Interesting that in Genesis 20:1 Abraham goes South (never a good direction when you are in the Promised Land), and dwells between Kadesh (Holy) and Shur (a wall). How many times have we vacillated between God and the wall that we are facing? I have been guilty of hugging the wall instead of reaching out toward God – the wall will get me nowhere, but God holds a promise.

Anyway, he is in the land of the Philistines, and he tells King Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. Now at this time she is in her 90’s, she must be very beautiful even at that age. The king takes Sarah thinking that she is available. God protected not only Abraham and Sarah, but also the Philistine king.  He sends a dream to the king telling him Genesis 20:3 “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken for she is a man’s wife.”  In this case dead means impotent. And the king asks God (interceding for his nation), verse 4 “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also?” The Philistines were not a righteous nation, but in this particular situation they acted righteously, and we will see that it is God who helps them to be righteous. He goes on to inform God that Abraham told him that she was his sister, and Sarah even confirmed that Abraham was her brother. He felt that he acted with integrity.

God lets Abilemech know that God prevented him from verse 6, “sinning against Me.” Notice, it was sinning against God. Remember that David used these words in his Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…” This after he killed a guy, committed adultery, etc. Granted those were acts against people, but acts against people are also acts against God, and when we hurt another person we also hurt God.

One bit of prophecy here is that Abimelech, a Philistine, if he had been able to have relations with Sarah, would have corrupted the line toward the Messiah, so God’s intervention not only protected Sarah and Abraham – but ultimately the birth of Jesus Christ.

Boy, in my own way of thinking, what Abraham did was awful – lying and having his wife lie. And in this case  it is a half truth for we will find that Sarah is Abraham’s 1/2 sister, but a half truth is a lie in God’s economy. Anyway, after doing this action twice I probably, if I were God, would have been pretty angry with Abraham. But God does not deal with people the way that we do. I think He sees us as we will become, and helps to move us toward becoming His vision, and he gently guides us along our path, and pushes us towards the truth, when we step astray. Listen to how he talks about Abraham:

Genesis 20: 7 “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. but if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

Proof positive that God can use us flawed creatures. If God can use a liar, have him be a prophet and the father of all Nations, what can He do with us, when we learn to love and obey Him.

The living that God is talking about has to do with impotence again. Abimelech calls to Abraham and says, verse 9 “…What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” Thoroughly puzzled Abimelech asks Abraham, Verse 10 “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?”

Abraham says that he felt that the fear of God was not in this place, and that he would be killed because of his wife. We can see that Abraham was wrong in the first count, because the king heard from God, and did not want to sin against God. We can also see that Abraham did not trust that God would protect him, and he built up an elaborate scenario where he would be killed because of Sarah. He also hid behind Sarah’s skirts.

I am guilty of doing this sort of thing. Thinking of a situation, looking at the worst case scenario, building up the situation, making my actions fit the scenario, then finding out that what I feared would happen did not happen. God does not want us living in fear, but in trusting Him. He certainly has led Abraham safely, so why does Abraham not think God would be there for him. Could it be that Abraham strayed a bit too far South, and felt that God would not provide a cover of protection? God may choose not to protect us when we stray from His path for us, or go into deliberate disobedience. I don’t know why Abraham was so fearful, but I think that as time goes on, and his relationship with God grows, that Abraham will become a mighty father of faith. We will see that when He takes Isaac up the mountain – takes great faith to do that.

Abraham also affirms in verse 12 that Sarah is truly his sister, the daughter of his father, but not of his mother – so she is his 1/2 sister. Then we find out in Verse 13 that Abraham and Sarah cooked up this ruse when they wandered from his father’s house. That Sarah would do the kindness of claiming that she was his sister. This is kind of like premeditated sin.

Notice a few things about the above passages. In verse 11, Abraham says, “Because I thought.” It does not say that the Lord led me, or because I prayed and was told to do this by God. Our thoughts can get us into a lot of difficulties. Our intellectual ability is so puny in comparison to God. The key is to pray first, and that will save a LOT of difficulty. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Notice, that he left his land 25 years ago, and made this plan with Sarah, and it became as natural as breathing. We don’t fall into sin, we go one step at a time toward it.

Abimelech gives a rebuke to Abraham, even though he will do what is right. First he gives Abraham sheep, oxen, male and female servants, and gives Abraham Sarah back. He also allows Abraham to pick wherever he pleases to settle. Seems rather profitable to Abraham, this lying. Each time he comes away richer in possessions, poorer in spirit though. And remember, he picked up Hagar as one of the servants when he went down south the last time. Hagar and her son are still a trouble to Israel.

Then Abimelech says to Sarah, verse 16 “Then to Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother, a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.” Thus she was rebuked.” Notice the slam when Abimelech says, “YOUR BROTHER”, and points out that Abraham should not be exposing her to such danger. Remember that people watch what we do, and how we act. Abraham and Sarah were not a good testimony about God by their lies.

Yet, Abraham will pray to God and God will heal Abimelech, his wife, his female servants so that they bear children. God had closed all their wombs because of Sarah, and notice in verse 18, she is called ABRAHAM’S WIFE. Hagar was not given that distinction by God, and also she is not Abraham’s sister (albeit she is a half sister), she is his wife.

In Chapter 20 is one time when God reveals something through a dream – and in this case it is to a pagan king, that he is infertile because of Abraham’s wife.

A bit of history about Gerar – they had dispossessed the original inhabitants of the land and instead of wandering as shepherds, they were settling down in the area, the land that will much later be named Palestine – or land of the Philistines.

Because God revealed to a pagan king a dream we can infer that God is concerned with all the nations, not just Christians or Jews, but all nations.

I think that God might have been making Abraham face the consequence of his lie, when he had to pray for the king and his people. It would have underscored the fact that Abraham caused the situation, and that his lie affected many, many people. That God held him responsible.

The only way we can break free from repeated patterns of sin, of repeating the same situation over and over when it isn’t a good situation is to renew our minds with the Word of God.

Beth Moore, in her study, the Patriarchs says on page 62 that she prays, “God, invade my dream life, my thoughts when I sleep, and every closet in my brain! Put your truth in the innermost places of my mind, even those I don’t know exist.” She wants God to be in every part of her being, conscious and unconscious. I need to pray a similar prayer, for often I find my thoughts to be undisciplined, and should be thinking different thoughts. On the same page she gives this exciting quote:

“While I was teaching the video sessions for Living Beyond Yourself, God led me to discover the Greek word horme as I researched various passions and their power to motivate. According to the New Testament Lexical Aids, “Horme, is an impulse or urge, a strong and forceful movement toward something, and connotes the ideas of thrusting, propulsion, and suddenness. It is not unlike a sudden thought, whim, or dictating inclination.” After praying that God would invade every part of my thought life, I added this new dimension to my prayers: “God, fill me so completely with Your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly!: I want to be like Peter when he saw Jesus on the shore and impulsively jumped in the water and swam to Him with all his might (See John 21).

Horme is a root of the word hormone.

I think that Abraham and Sarah reacted to their fears with impulses that weren’t Godly. I am hoping that as I walk through life and face situations that send me back to the past, or fill me with fear, that like Beth Moore, I choose Godly Horme impulses. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Godly response, than an ungodly reaction. I pray that God changes me in this.

Have a blessed day!


About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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