What Jacob Taught Me

About a month ago, I finished preaching through the third of four planned sermon series through the book of Genesis. The series covered Genesis 25-36, which is primarily the life of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. Last summer, as I finished preaching through Abraham’s life, I wrote a post about what Abraham’s life taught me. I planned to do the same sort of the post with Jacob, but four weeks passed by without writing even a word of it.

Before I explain why I was so sluggish to write this post, allow me to first explain why I wanted to write it in the first place. Whenever we read about the lives of people in the Bible, we must understand that their strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, triumphs and sins, are all written down for our benefit. Their lives have been recorded as examples for us: either what to do or not to do. For instance, Paul calls Abraham the man of faith for good reason. The faith he placed in God throughout his life is astounding! Abraham’s faith is worthy of our imitation. We should strive to be like him.

And the same point can be made for David’s love of God. Or Moses’ obedience. The lives of former saints are recorded as both encouragements and warnings.

For me, Jacob’s life blends the encouragement and warning so much that it’s scary.

You see, I’ve had a hard time sitting down to write about what Jacob’s life taught me because in many ways, Jacob connected to me more deeply than Abraham did. And I think it’s because Abraham was such an example of faith. I certainly know that Abraham sinned. He was willing to sell his wife away to save his owe skin twice, and he committed adultery with his wife’s servant (even though it was his wife’s idea). But even with these sins of Abraham on display, he still feels larger-than-life. He feels like a superhero when it comes to following God. I simply don’t know if I could ever pass a test like Abraham’s having to sacrifice his own son.

In a lot of ways, Abraham’s life seems to point toward Christ’s absolute perfection more than it resembles my life.

But Jacob wasn’t like his grandfather.

Jacob’s life was essentially one massive struggle against sin and against God. Jacob was a coward and a deceiver by nature. Especially for the first few chapters of his life, it seems that Jacob lets himself be pushed around by everyone. His mom coerces him into deceiving his father. His father-in-law tricks him into marrying the sister of the woman he actually loved. His two wives toss him back and forth while they fight about who is loved most and who has more children. Often it feels like life simply happens around Jacob, like he’s a pawn in his own story.

Of course, when Jacob does take action, it’s rarely godly. Jacob’s cowardliness constantly shows as he tends to flee from conflict, instead of facing it directly. Jacob’s fear was merely the symptom of his little faith. He repeatedly took matters into his own hands rather than trusting God.

Unfortunately, this is the aspect of Jacob’s character that I relate to most. Like Jacob, I tend to be cowardly instead of bold. I’m often full of fear instead of faith. I consider too much what others might think of me instead of being concerned with doing the will of the Father.

I’m not Abraham.

I’m Jacob.

I’m not a man of faith.

I’m a man of struggle, wrestling against both God and sin.

By providence, I think that’s why God chose Jacob. I mean, even though Abraham was awesome, God named the nation of Israel after Jacob, not Abraham. And I think it’s because Israel was more like Jacob than the man of faith. The people of Israel continuously wrestled against God, following the pattern of Jacob.

But the great lesson of Jacob’s life, of Israel’s history, and of us today is that God is faithful even when we aren’t. God’s biggest grace to Jacob was not giving up on him. In many ways, God beat Jacob into maturity through struggle after struggle. But those struggles were grace.

It’s interesting that the brief descriptions we have of Esau (Jacob’s brother) seem to be the exact opposite of Jacob. Esau appeared to have great wealth (much greater, it seems, than Jacob), and there is no account of any great struggle in his long, prosperous life. Chapter 36, instead, simply lists the great men that came from Esau’s lineage.

Esau seemed to have it all.

Given the choice between Esau and Jacob, most people would rather be Esau. We’d rather have the easy life of prosperity. After all, material blessings are a sign of God’s favor, right?

Through the prophet Malachi, God declared His love for Jacob and His hatred for Esau. God’s relentless pursuit of Jacob was Jacob’s greatest blessing. Esau’s prosperity and ease, which led to self-reliance and self-sufficiency, were God’s curse upon him.

It’s a difficult truth, but it’s also full of hope. Jacob was a deeply flawed and sinful man of God, but he was still just that: a man of God. Jacob grew to follow God only because God never stopped wrestling him into maturity.

Like I said, I’m Jacob, not Abraham.

I’m often a man of struggle, not faith.

Thankfully, a wrestling match is often God’s means of grace.

Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 15)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my masters kinsmen. (Genesis 24:26-27)

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

OPENING THOUGHT

Abraham’s life was full of difficulty and blessing. Repeatedly, God placed him in situations where Abraham was able to exercise his faith in God. Though he also failed by sinning numerous times, the patriarch ultimately was willing to trust and obey God, no matter how difficult God’s command might be. Truly Paul is correct in calling Abraham the man of faith.

We now come the closing chapter of Abraham’s story arc within Genesis. We have already seen that Abraham passed his largest test of faith by being willing to sacrifice Isaac, which was the climax of Abraham’s life. Last week marked how Abraham was now faithfully approaching the end of his life by making sure that a piece of Canaan was secured as a sign of how God would bless his descendants. This chapter continues that idea of Abraham passing his blessings and promises from God down to his son Isaac, and this time, Abraham does so through finding Isaac a wife.

Given that this is the longest chapter of Genesis and that it is full of repetition, we can be tempted to skim over these verses; however, it is important to note that this chapter is full of significance. One of the primary promises that God gave Abraham was regarding Abraham’s multitude of descendants. Obviously, that promise could not be fulfilled through Isaac if he did not have a wife with whom to have a child. Thus, by sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham is again faithfully establishing the means for God’s promises to continue after his own death.

Read verses 1-9 and discuss the following.

  • Within these verses, we read of Abraham’s desire to find a wife for Isaac, as well as his insistence that Isaac remain living in the land of Canaan. How do both of these actions display Abraham’s faith in God and His promises?

Read verses 10-27 and discuss the following.

  • Abraham’s servant creates a plan for finding Isaac’s wife. He does this by looking for a woman that was freely willing to water his master’s ten camels. Since camels can easily drink up to 20 gallons of water at a time, this would have been a significant task. What does this tell us about how the servant was looking for Isaac’s wife-to-be? What characteristics was he looking for?
  • The servant responds to Rebekah’s willingness to water the camels by publicly worshiping God, giving thanks for His steadfast love and faithfulness. Why is it important that the Old Testament reveals that God shows steadfast love to His people?

Read verses 28-60 and discuss the following. 

  • Through these verses, Abraham’s servant recounts to Rebekah’s family how God guided him to Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. What are some of the ways (through action or speech) that display the servant’s faith in God and his duty to Abraham?

Read verses 61-67 and discuss the following. 

  • Upon meeting Rebekah, Isaac takes her into Sarah’s tent. This symbolically shows that Isaac and Rebekah are now the bearers of God’s blessings and promises that He gave to Abraham and Sarah. Furthermore, it states that Isaac loved Rebekah. How is this both similar and different from our current ideas of love and marriage?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the servant’s model of worshipful and faithful service and whether you live similarly.
  • Notice Isaac’s intentional loving of Rebekah (a woman that he has just met). Do you love with similar intentionality? Particularly in terms of romantic love, are you dependent upon feeling in love or are you determined to love? Resolve how you might better and more purposefully love others.

4 Things Abraham Taught Me

This week, we will finish our almost four month long study of the life of Abraham in Genesis. Before completely jumping into the next sermon series, I thought it might be beneficial for me to reflect upon some lessons that the LORD taught me through studying Abraham’s life.

1. Abraham’s physical life represents our spiritual life.

Stepping out on a limb, I assume that God will not call most of us to journey off toward an unknown destination. I also doubt that many of us will find ourselves leading men into a war between nine kings in order to rescue our kin. The chances, as well, are rather slim that God will ever cause any of us to give birth at age 90 or 100. Further, God is not likely to demand that we plunge a knife into our child to display obedience.

But God led Abraham through each one.

Most of our lives will simply not be the dramatic epic that Abraham’s life was. We will probably live quiet, unassuming lives, while faithfully doing the work of the gospel in the field that God has placed us. On paper, it seems that we are far from being like Abraham, the great man of faith.

While this thought appears to be well grounded, it undermines the entire premise of following Christ. Though Abraham physically left behind his family and security to follow the LORD, every follower of Christ is called to do the same. Jesus tells His disciples that “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”[1] The call to follow Christ upon a believer is a call to kill within us any selfish ambition. It is a call to follow Jesus, wherever He may lead, at whatever cost.

And though God may not demand that we physically sacrifice things that we might treasure above Him, we are certainly commanded to do so spiritually. Internally, we are constantly at war with our heart’s inclination toward idolatry, fighting to keep every good gift of God from becoming our god.

Abraham’s journey is indeed the physical embodiment of each believer’s spiritual journey.

2. Following God is far from easy.

Following Jesus is full of rest and comfort. Jesus promised His followers, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[2] There is great truth to be found in those words. Jesus gives us true rest from trying to earn God’s favor and love.

The life of Abraham also teaches us, however, that following God is not easy. The patriarch’s life was full of trials and challenges. In addition to following blindly in the direction that God told him to walk, Abraham also waited patiently for 25 years to receive the son that God promised to him. Abraham watched as Sarah and himself become much too old to have children, but he still had faith that God would do as He said. Not to mention that when he finally received his son, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice him as an offering to the LORD. Abraham faced great difficulties throughout his life of following the LORD.

And so it will be with us.

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”[3]

“And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”[4]

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”[5]

The verdict is clear: life following Christ is not a life of ease. Yet we must also note the great blessing and favor that God showed to Abraham (a blessing that was not merely financial). God was faithfully with Abraham through every single trial that the man of faith faced. We too hold onto that promise in life.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”[6]

3. Faith without works is dead.

Abraham has two great titles given to him by New Testament writers: the man of faith[7] and a friend of God.[8] Both of these titles seem rather fitting given the experiences that Abraham encountered. Thus, as the Bible’s example of the epitome of a faithful follower of the LORD, what comes into our minds when considering Abraham’s faith? Obviously, we think of Abraham’s blind walk of faith, his patient 25-year wait for Isaac, or his willingness to sacrifice his son. In short, we think of Abraham’s actions, his works.

It is no accident that James uses Abraham as an example to support his claim that faith without works is dead. At first, we might think that James 2:24 stands in direct contradiction of Ephesians 2:8-9. However, we know that they cannot be contradictory because Paul uses Abraham as an example of salvation by faith alone in Romans 4:1-12. Abraham exemplifies what both Paul and James argue, and James’ statement is particularly potent.

The essence of the statement that faith without works is dead is that faith will reveal itself through works. Though our works (that is, all of our good deeds) do not save us, we cannot truly have faith in God without showing that faith via works. Abraham proved to be a man of faith because of his obedience. By his willingness to trust God fully, even if it meant sacrificing Isaac, Abraham revealed the great faith that he had in God. Thus, Abraham is one of the Bible’s greatest examples of the relationship between faith and works.

4. God is always faithful.

I believe that this is the greatest lesson to be learned from studying Abraham’s life. Clearly, we have seen how Abraham displayed great faith in God through his willingness to obey God’s commands, no matter how difficult. For all of Abraham’s victories and successes, his life was not without failures either.

Consider Abraham’s sins.

Within the same chapter that Abraham shows great faith by following God without being told a destination, Abraham fled to Egypt to escape a famine. While in Egypt, Abraham made Sarah claim to be his sister, so that Pharaoh would not kill him in order to take Sarah as his wife. Out of fear for his own skin, Abraham was willing to sell his wife into the hands of another man. Obviously, this is quite frowned upon.

In chapter 16, we find that Sarah becomes impatient with the LORD’s promise to give her and Abraham a son. She, therefore, suggests that Abraham sleep with her servant, Hagar, so that Sarah can have a child through her servant. This went about as well as one might expect. Sarah immediately became jealous of Hagar, and she expressed that jealously by abusing her servant. Abraham is notably quiet throughout this event, passively leading his entire household into sin.

Then in chapter 20, we read of Abraham’s encounter with Abimelech. Since Abimelech was a king, Abraham feared the same as he did with Pharaoh: that Abimelech would kill Abraham in order to take Sarah as his wife. Thus, Abraham proceeded to repeat his sin from back in Egypt.

Though he was the man of faith, Abraham was far from perfect. He was a flawed and sinful man. In fact, if God did not first come to Abraham in chapter 12, Abraham would have likely continued to follow after the gods of his family.[9] Whatever faith Abraham displayed is by far eclipsed by God’s faithfulness toward Abraham, which is good news because if God is not faithful, then placing our faith in Him does us no good. Fortunately, God was faithful to Abraham, through obedience and through sin. We can, likewise, have confidence that the God of Abraham will also be faithful to us.

[1] Matthew 10:37

[2] Matthew 11:28-30

[3] Philippians 1:29

[4] Mark 13:13

[5] 1 Peter 4:12-13

[6] John 16:33

[7] Galatians 3:9

[8] James 2:23

[9] Joshua 24:2-3

The Death of Sarah (Genesis 23)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 14)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites. (Genesis 23:20)

For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

OPENING THOUGHT

Our journey through the life of Abraham is coming to an end as we study today the penultimate chapter of his life. Thus far, we have witnessed all the major events of the man of faith’s life. We have seen his perpetual walk of faith with God. We have read the promises that God has given to him: that he would have a son through Sarah, that his descendants would be a vast multitude, and that he would inherit the land of Canaan. God has fulfilled the first of the three promises, but it is becoming increasing apparent that the other two will not be completed during Abraham’s lifetime.

As we witness Abraham’s story drawing to its end, we now read of Sarah’s death. She lived 127 years, which would have made Abraham 137 at this time. Abraham’s goal throughout the chapter is to secure a piece of property for burying his wife. In order to do this, he engages in a rather lengthy discourse with the Hittites, the people who were then living in Abraham’s land. Eventually, Abraham is able to purchase a piece of land with a cave for burying Sarah.

To be honest, I find chapters like this one very interesting. The death of Sarah is obviously significant for Abraham, but why does it spend so much time focused upon Abraham buying a piece of property? The land in question here is important because it is a piece of the land that God promised to give to Abraham’s offspring. Though Abraham would not come into possession of the promised land in his lifetime, this piece of it served as a guarantee that God would give to his offspring the promised inheritance.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  1. After being at Abraham’s side throughout his journey, we now learn that Sarah has died, and Abraham weeps and mourns for her. Why, even though we hope in heaven, is mourning still an appropriate response for a Christian to have during the death of a loved one?

Read verses 3-16 and discuss the following.

  1. Abraham seeks to buy a piece of land with a cave from the Hittites for burying Sarah. Upon speaking with him, the Hittites declare that he is a “prince of God.” In what ways does this reflect how nonbelievers should view Christians? How do Abraham’s actions serve to build respect between himself and the Hittites?
  2. Though God promised to Abraham all of Canaan, he still lived as a foreigner in that land, knowing that God would be faithful to fulfill his promise. How is this similar to the Christian life of being in the world but not of the world?

Read verses 17-20 and discuss the following.

  1. Abraham finally owns a piece of the land that God promised to him 62 years ago. This serves as a guarantee that Abraham’s offspring would receive the full promise of God. What does this reveal about Abraham’s hope and faith beyond his life? How is Abraham’s land here similar to the Holy Spirit that now testifies within us?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider how non-Christians see your life and in what ways you can display Christ with your lifestyle.
  • Consider your hope and desire for heaven. Do you desire heaven for the sake of pleasure or because God is there? Pray then for a greater love and desire for the LORD.

Abraham Sacrifices Isaac (Genesis 22)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 13)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Abraham said, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. So they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8)

He said, Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me. (Genesis 22:12)

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:39)

OPENING THOUGHT

Last week, the Abraham finally saw the fulfillment of God’s promise. When God first called Abraham at the age of seventy-five, He promised to give Abraham and Sarah a son. This was joyous news for the barren couple, so Abraham trusted God and followed Him. Then God kept Abraham waiting for twenty-five years. But even after Sarah was physically unable to have children and after numerous sins of Abraham, God was still faithful to fulfill His promise. Through a great miracle, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son. He gave them Isaac.

But on the coattails of such happiness comes today’s chapter. Here, God brings Abraham into the ultimate test: giving Isaac back to God. The LORD appears to Abraham and commands Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Amazingly, Abraham obeys. He journeys upon the mountains and prepares to kill his beloved son in order to obey God. Fortunately, God intervenes, claiming that Abraham passed the test. Because Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, God knew that Abraham truly feared the LORD.

This chapter is by the greatest trial that Abraham ever faced. His twenty-five year wait, his war against kings to rescue Lot, his walk of blind faith, were nothing compared to the difficulty of trusting the LORD in this task. However, by this, we learn that Abraham truly is a man of faith. He did not understand why God commanded him to do this or what God was going to teach him through this. But still he trusted that God would be enough for Him. Abraham understood that God had given him Isaac; therefore, God also had the right to take Isaac back.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  • After finally giving Abraham his promised son, God now appears to Abraham, commanding that he offer Isaac as a sacrifice. We are told later that God did this in order to make sure that Abraham still feared Him, essentially making sure that Abraham did not value Isaac above God. Is it wrong of God to demand that we love Him more than anything or anyone else? Why not?

Read verses 3-10 and discuss the following.

  • Abraham’s response to this unthinkable command is obedience. Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God would give Isaac back to him, even if that meant raising Isaac from the dead. How does this reveal the depth of Abraham’s faith? Why is faith without works dead?

Read verses 11-14 and discuss the following. 

  • God sends an angel to stop Abraham before he can kill Isaac. But even though Isaac was spared, Abraham still displayed a willingness to give up his own son for God. How does this point to the Father giving up Christ for our sake?

Read verses 15-24 and discuss the following.  

  • Following Abraham’s obedience, God once again renews His promises to Abraham and to his descendants. Abraham then hears about the family of his brother. How do both of these events assure Abraham that God will care for Isaac and his descendants after Abraham’s death?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Just as Abraham was willing to entrust his son to God, consider your most valued people or possessions and whether you would be willing to surrender them to God if He demanded.
  • Think about the great love that God has shown to us by not sparing His Son and about how belief in this good news has shaped your life.

Abraham’s Two Sons (Genesis 21)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 12)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. (Genesis 21:1)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:28)

OPENING THOUGHT

From the first moment that God appeared to Abraham, He promised the patriarch a son, an offspring that God would both bless and use to bless others. For the childless man and his wife, Sarah, this must have been like hearing a splash of water in the desert. But then God waited twenty-five years. Along the way, He continued to promise Abraham that his son would come. Eleven years into waiting, Abraham tried to help God by impregnating his wife’s servant, yet God specified that He would give Abraham a child via Sarah. Still, after numerous renewals of the promise, Abraham and Sarah still had no child, until now.

Following twenty-five years of God promising the birth of Isaac, Abraham and Sarah finally have a child! The joy of the moment is captured in Isaac’s very name—which means “laughter”—because the utter impossibility of his birth is laughable notion. Yet as God told Sarah earlier, nothing is too hard for the LORD. But the chapter is not all joyful. The birth of Isaac immediately creates tension between Sarah and Hagar and Ishmael. In resolving this conflict, Sarah demands for Hagar and Ishmael to be cast out, but God still provides for Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness. Finally, the chapter ends with Abraham and Abimelech making a treaty with one another.

At first glance, this chapter can seem rather disjointed, especially with the Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech occurring at the end. However, I believe the overall message of this chapter is that God is faithful. Isaac’s birth displays God’s faithfulness to keep His promise, even if doing so requires the working of the impossible. God’s provision for Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness is a sign of His faithfulness to do what He has spoken. God’s faithfulness is also revealed in Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech, emphasizing that Abimelech would not become an enemy of Abraham later.

Read verses 1-7 and discuss the following.

  • After waiting for twenty-five years, the LORD finally blesses Abraham and Sarah with a child in their old age, just like He promised. What does the birth of Isaac teach us about the character and attributes of God?

Read verses 8-14 and discuss the following.

  • Isaac’s birth quickly causes a tension to grow between Sarah and Hagar. When Sarah finds Ishmael laughing (likely in mockery of Isaac), she demanded that Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael. In Galatians, Paul uses this account as an allegory. What is Paul’s point and its significance in Galatians 4:21-31?

Read verses 15-21 and discuss the following. 

  • In the desert, Hagar and Ishmael appear to be dying of thirst, but the LORD intervenes by showing them well of water. God renews his promise from chapter 16 to make Ishmael into a great nation. How does this act display the faithfulness of God?

Read verses 22-34 and discuss the following. 

  • Having seen in the previous chapter God’s blessing upon Abraham, Abimelech and his army commander desire to make a treaty with Abraham. What does this say about how outsiders perceived Abraham? Is this similar to how non-Christians should see us?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Like Abraham with Abimelech, consider how non-believers perceive your relationship with the LORD and in what ways they might declare, “God is with you.”
  • As with showing Hagar and Ishmael the well of water, recall times when God has provided for you and pray with gratitude.

Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 11)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of you heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (Genesis 20:6)

Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. (Genesis 20:17)

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

OPENING THOUGHT

From a cursed, pagan to the epitome of a faithful believer: that is the heart of Abraham’s story. His willingness to trust God and obey His commands is a testament of how every Christian should live. His readiness to intercede in prayer for sinners stands as an example of how we should pray. Even Lot’s rescue last week from the destruction of Sodom was attributed to God remembering Abraham.

But this is not to say that Abraham is without his sins, and today, we see one of Abraham’s sins repeated. In a previous journey to Egypt, Abraham passed off his wife, Sarah, as his sister in order to avoid being killed, so that the king could take her. Of course, this resulted in the king buying Sarah from Abraham (as a side note, selling your wife to another man is always frown upon). However, we now read of Abraham doing the same thing again with another king named Abimelech.

Throughout this odd story, two great lessons stand out. First, even though Abraham sort of led Abimelech into sin, the king was quick to repent of his sin. Rightfully, he expressed his frustration to Abraham, but he was still quick to accept responsibility for his own actions. Second, the faithful providence of God toward Abraham is astounding. The sovereign hand of God keeps Abimelech from a great sin against Abraham and Sarah and governs the wombs of Abimelech’s wife and servants.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  1. As Abraham journeys into Gerar, he tells people once again that Sarah is his sister. Because of this, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, takes Sarah to be one of his wives. This is the second time now that Abraham has given away his wife in order to save his own skin, revealing his lack of faith in God’s protection. How might times of our lack of faith similarly lead to sinful actions?

Read verses 3-7 and discuss the following.

  1. Abimelech responds to the LORD’s warning by claiming that he would have never taken Sarah if Abraham had told him the truth. God then responds by assuring Abimelech that He knew of the king’s integrity, so He kept Abimelech from sinning. What does this show us about the providence of God?

Read verses 8-13 and discuss the following.

  1. Understandably, Abimelech wishes to know why Abraham lied to him about Sarah being his sister. Abraham then explains that his deception was not technically a lie because Sarah is his half-sister. Did Abraham give a sufficient excuse for why he deceived Abimelech? Is there ever a sufficient reason behind why we sin?

Read verses 14-18 and discuss the following.

  1. Though God knew of Abimelech’s integrity, He still warns him that he must return Sarah to Abraham or be killed. Abimelech responds by obeying the LORD’s commands. How is this a picture of repentance?
  2. After Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham, Abraham prays to God for Abimelech and his people. The LORD then heals the wombs of all the women. How is this a testament to God’s faithfulness and graciousness toward Abraham? What does this show us about the importance of prayer?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider Abimelech’s quick repentance, even though Abraham caused him to sin, and consider your own tendency toward repentance. Ask the LORD for a heart that is quick to repent, even under difficult circumstances.
  • Notice the faithful providence of God in caring for Abraham even when he sinned. Recall times when God has been similarly faithful with you and thank Him.