Abraham and Sarah at Gerar
1Abraham moved to the Southern Desert, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur. Later he went to Gerar, and while there 2 he told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You have taken a married woman into your home, and for this you will die!”
4-5Abimelech said to the Lord, “Don't kill me! I haven't slept with Sarah. Didn't they say they were brother and sister? I am completely innocent.”
6Then God continued:
I know you are innocent. That's why I kept you from sleeping with Sarah and doing anything wrong. 7Her husband is a prophet. Let her go back to him, and his prayers will save you from death. But if you don't return her, you and all your people will die.
8Early the next morning Abimelech sent for his officials, and when he told them what had happened, they were frightened. 9Abimelech then called in Abraham and said:
Look what you've done to us! What have I ever done to you? Why did you make me and my nation guilty of such a terrible sin? 10What were you thinking when you did this?
I did it because I didn't think any of you respected God, and I was sure that someone would kill me to get my wife. 12Besides, she is my half sister. We have the same father, but different mothers. 13When God made us leave my father's home and start wandering, I told her, “If you really love me, then tell everyone that I am your brother.”
14After Abimelech had given Abraham some sheep, cattle, and slaves, he sent Sarah back 15and told Abraham he could settle anywhere in his country. 16Then he said to Sarah, “I have given your brother 1,000 pieces of silver as proof to everyone that you have done nothing wrong.”
17-18Meanwhile, God had kept Abimelech's wife and slaves from having children. But Abraham prayed, and God let them start having children again.
Lies, all of them will eventually “out.” Just ask Lance Armstrong. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/jesus-would-tell-lance-armstrong-to-stop-lying-and-turn-to-god-88618/) Or Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah agreed that Sarah not reveal her marital status. Their deception, (like so many of ours) rose from an instinct of self-protection. But God had a higher plan, and that redemptive plan of the One who set the stars in place could not be thwarted – not even by the pair from whose line Jesus Christ would stem.
Nevertheless, making a choice to flout God’s plan – or attempt a better (quicker, easier) one, always brings grief, and seldom only to ourselves. Had King Abimelech not paid attention to his dream, in which God delivered the truth about Sarah, an entire people group would have been destroyed.
But the pagan king proved himself more upright than Abraham at this point. Learning that making Sarah his wife would bring peril to himself and his people, the king promptly reunited the spouses. Then he confronted Abraham with words I’ve often asked myself after a spectacular bout of failing to fall in with God’s plan: “WHAT were you thinking?”
This chapter of God’s story would be very different if Abimelech had passed off his dream as the result of too much wine the evening before. Or a restless night.
No matter which choice Abimelech had made, God’s ultimate purposes would still have been accomplished. But God offered this pagan king opportunity to realize his error. And the master plan of the Keeper of the Universe skipped a potential (if temporary) detour.
God always works his perfect plan through imperfect people. Even those of us who ask ourselves, at times, “WHAT were you thinking?”
Master Planner, lead me not into temptation to half-truths, white-lies and better ideas that may harm those around me. Thank you that your grace allows U-turns, and give me the humility to take them.