GENESIS – SERIES NR 19 : Sinner, yet man of God
Scripture: Genesis 20
Gerar was the centre of the pagan-world. The roots of the later Philistines
were here. And we are fully aware of how much trouble they caused God’s
holy nation. But then Abraham moved to Gerar. He left his “home base” and moved into the world. But now take note: He was there as a STRANGER (verse 1). Gerar would never become his home. He would never become one of the crowd. He was still the man of God and Gerar was pagan.
Here we now have a man of God in a godless country. How did they get to
know him? How did he live his life among the pagans?
Two great moments stand out: 1 Abraham tasted the bitter of stumbling and
disappointment, and 2 He received anew a confirmation of his calling as child of God. Despite his failures, Gerar became the place where the Lord made
Abraham once more aware of his calling in the world. It was actually a divine miracle which took place there. But it was a divine miracle which the Lord still performs today in millions of lives. The miracle has never ended!
We should bear in mind that Abraham was the father of ALL believers – New Covenant believers included. That means, among other things, that everyone
who is saved in Christ, “resembles” Abraham. There are features/resemblances being reflected. The way in which the Lord worked with Abraham, is reflected
in the way which He works with His people in 2018. Therefore, there is a
resemblance between Abraham’s story and ours! That is why Genesis is not
merely a dead book full of ancient history. It is a part of the Word of LIFE – which Phil 2:16 is speaking of.
The Holy Spirit inspired Genesis. The Spirit was very precise in how Abraham’s
faith-trust – but also the dark side of his irresolution & inconsistency –
are being represented. And add to that, God’s endless patience and love.
Abraham is at the same time a typological-prophetic foreshadowing of Christ
himself, but also of the church. Therein we see the wonder of the Scriptures – which are literally the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit.
All this we see in Genesis 20!
On arrival in Gerar, Abraham repeated the same sin he had committed 30
years previously in Egypt. The half-truth that Sarah was his sister (she was his half-sister) was actually a complete lie, because he wanted to create the
impression that Sarah was not his wife at all. As with all sin, it was all about
himself, about self-preservation. Sin usually is concerned about one’s own
Benefit and advantage. Here it is about Abraham’s own safety – which is
actually a motion of no-confidence in God. He undoubtedly trusted the Lord,
but left the backdoor open for emergencies.
In this chapter one is therefore confronted with Abraham’s sinful disposition
and fallen nature. And along with that, also with your own! And the
disappointment one has in Abraham, is also the disappointment one often has with oneself. One feels disappointed because we have the inclination to idealize Abraham as a man who should have been able to overcome sin and been
somewhat immune to it. And we are also disappointed in ourselves because
we feel that – by this time – we should have been a little more perfect. And
then we fall flat on our face. One usually underestimates the power of our
weakness and the absolute wickedness of our human nature. And then we do not rely on Christ’s cross-redemption and the power of the Spirit.
The thing that wants to drive us to tears in chapter 20 is the fact that
Abraham is in the end exposed to the godless worldly people, and that they
(the godless) behave more honourably than Abraham, the believer! The believer looks bad and the unbeliever is looking good! Sin always involves others.
Firstly, Sarah is involved. But when Abraham is exposed, everyone knows about it. And the pagan king’s behaviour is faultless, while the man of God is
exposed as a fraud. God’s honour becomes involved. His power to save and to sanctify, is ridiculed.
It is just so wonderful to know that the Lord never chooses us unto salvation because we are such exemplary people. God did not choose Abraham because he was such an excellent person. God does not choose excellent people. He
chooses sinners. And then He walks a grace-walk with them and changes them. We do not become new and different because of our excellent qualities, but because the Lord is walking with us. It is all about His power and grace!
Abraham failed once again. Yes. But it encourages us!
And then the big surprise – which again shows how different God is compared with humans.
How will the Lord now react to Abraham’s slump? This is where we see a
huge chunk of GOSPEL revealed in Genesis 20! Take note of the words: BUT
GOD CAME… That made all the difference.
First, we have to see that it was the Lord himself who exposed Abraham’s sin. By grace! In the entire chapter God never once spoke to Abraham. Because
sin impedes the walk between God and man. Sin obstructs and handicaps the relationship between God and His redeemed and saved child.
But instead, the Lord speaks to Abimelech, the pagan king! Of course the Lord can speak to people who are unsaved. And after the Lord had spoken to
Abimelech, Abimelech confronted Abraham. Abimelech was therefore used by
the Lord. Just the same as the Lord still uses unsaved people even today – to
our shame – to wake us up!
It is precious to see how the Lord undertook for Sarah. Remember: Sarah was
the woman who would be the mother of the promised child – Isaac. And out of Isaac the Lord Jesus would eventually come forth. It was therefore
important that Sarah remained inviolated. The Lord would never allow satan’s
plans to succeed and thwart His promise.
Amazing to know that the Lord himself took control despite the mistakes and
shortcomings of His people. He maintained His church himself. If He hadn’t
done so in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, HOW would it have been possible
for the Messiah to eventually be born in Bethlehem?
The biggest surprise in Genesis 20 is how the Lord himself honored Abraham. Yes, his sin was known. And he experienced the inner pain and humiliation.
But Abraham was still the man of God. The Lord did not reject him because
of his ignominious behaviour. Even though he repeated the very same sin. He
still remained a man with a calling. And THAT is what the world must know
and see! The world must acknowledge and honour God’s people for that!
Look at verse 7: “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live!” The Lord intended to give Abimelech LIFE,
but He chose to give it through the prayers of Abraham!
Wow! What miracle is happening here? WITHIN THE SAME HOUR of Abraham’s sin and disgrace, he is introduced to the godless world as the LORD’S prophet and priest! As God’s anointed! Abraham has just dragged God’s honour
through the mud in front of the pagans, and now the Lord is simply turning
everything upside down and introduces Abraham as His anointed, His prophet, His priest.
What the Lord was doing, was to confirm Abraham’s calling: Prophet and priest. The Lord was not for one moment condoning Abraham’s sin, but He also did not allow his sin to become an excuse for the world not to listen to
Abraham’s message! And in this way Abraham became the herald of the Great Prophet and Priest who would come forth from his loins: Jesus Christ!
PROPHET: That means to be set apart to be God’s mouthpiece, the proclaimer of His Word. In our day: His WRITTEN Word.
PRIEST: To intercede for people with God. Through the prayers of Abraham
there was salvation and healing possible. A priest is something like a mediator – someone who steps into the breach for other people. In verse 17 we read
that Abraham indeed did pray for Abimelech and that the Lord healed him!
The great message of Genesis 20 is that the Lord God chooses & uses people in spite of their failings. That can happen as a result of the successful
substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ for everyone whom the Father gave to His Son before the creation – the sheep for whom the shepherd gave His life!
And when the Lord calls someone to be prophet or priest, such a person is
the man/woman of God!
It obviously places a greater responsibility upon a called person. Greater
responsibility to live accountable! For example, if one looks at Abraham’s later
life, one can clearly see how he lived out his calling with greater dignity. We will look into that in the next two weeks when we study chapters 21 and 22.
Translated by Marthie Wilson