Here again is another example of how not to do things. Abraham wasn’t perfect – and in this exchange we see that a non-believer such as Abimelech can behave far better, more righteously than Abraham who is supposed to be a friend of God. How often have seen that though – people who claim to be Christians, and yet if you look at their behaviour, you’d never guess that were the case.
There are a lot of good things about the Bible, and one of them, although sometimes it can be confusing, is that there are many examples of how not to be a believer. Abraham messes it up on several occasions, and yet he is a hero of the faith. In fact many of the people we consider to be great in the Bible really made a mess – David, Noah, Isaac, Peter, Thomas, Barnabas. Those are just the one off the top of my head. These examples are recorded in the Bible not as something to copy, but rather as something to encourage us – even these people did a rubbish job at times!
This episode is partiuclarly interesting because it’s the same sin that Abraham commits. He has been blessed by God so much since the last time he indulged in this sin, and yet, again he decides to do the wrong thing in exactly the same way.
Sometimes we develop a habit of sin, often as a way of coping with things. Abraham’s way of coping with scary situations was to lie his way out of them, putting his wife at risk, as well as others. Because he had failed to deal wtih it adequately before, this remained a coping mechanism for him, even though it was sinful. Had he addressed it previously, it is likely that he would either not have gone to Gerar, or would have dealt with the situaiton differently. We need to be careful of those things in our past that we haven’t dealt with. Past sins need to be dealt with and dispatched so we can move on.
Also, the fact that Abraham indulged in the same sin in the same situation suggests that he hadn’t learnt sufficiently from it that last time it came around. Abraham gets another go at getting it right, and fails. Instead of Abraham keeping his eyes on God, he keeps his eyes on the problem (and has therefore taken his eyes off God). As believers we are to live by faith. There’s generally a lot going on that we can’t see, as hindsight frequently shows.
Unfortunately, this time Sarah joins Abraham in his sin and backs him up. This just goes to show that we tend to match the sinfulness of others rather than their righteousness.
One of the problems with the Abraham houshold was that they had justified to themselves that such deceit wasn’t lying since it was half true. If it’s only half true, it’s still a lie, even if only by omission. In fact telling half-truths could be even worse than an outright lie because by telling half-truths you’re more likely to convince yourself that you’re not lying. Once you’re able to deceive yourself, then you’re in big trouble.
With thanks to my spiritual uncles: Uncle Warren Wiersbe, Uncle Chuck Missler, Uncle Matthew Henry, Uncle Jacob Prasch and Uncle Arnold Fruchtenbaum.