Genesis 081 – In Kind

Genesis 081 – In Kind
20:14-18 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 12, 2022 • Genesis


Genesis 081 – In Kind

By Dr Andy Woods – 06/12/2022

Genesis 20:14-18


Alright! Well, good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, this morning and open them to the book of Genesis chapter 20, and verse 14 (Gen 20:14). Lord willing, we’re going to try to finish Genesis, 20 today and everybody that’s been in this ministry for a while just laughs every time I say that. The title of our message this morning is “In Kind”. “In kind” and if you’ve been with us in our studies of the book of Genesis, we are at a point in the study where we’re learning about the very special nation that God is raising up, called the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is a big deal in the Bible, because it’s through Israel that God has determined to bless the human race, including bringing the Savior, Genesis, 3, verse 15 (Gen 3:15), it’s announced for the first time, the Savior to the world and when God does a work, many times what God does is He picks an instrument and the problem with the instruments is when God calls them there really not qualified. God never calls the qualified, He qualifies the called. Does that encourage you? Because if God doesn’t call the qualified, I guess I can apply for the job, Amen? And so can you.

So He picks this man named Abram that later becomes Abraham, He tells him to walk by faith, He calls him out of the Ur of the Chaldeans and gives him a covenant, gives him promises and so because he’s such a pivotal figure in biblical history we’re taking our time as we look at the early life, journeys, wanderings of this man Abraham and we come to a chapter that usually gets skipped over in the Abraham story, people really don’t know what to do with it. It’s the story of Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham sojourns into the Negev which is the southern area there of the nation of Israel and there he runs into this man named Abimelech.

Genesis 20 Abraham & Abimelech

      1. Background (Gen 20:1-2)
      2. Abimelech & God (Gen 20:3-8)
      3. Abimelech & Abraham (Gen 20:9-15)
      4. Abimelech & Sarah (Gen 20:16)
      5. Removal of the curse (Gen 20:17-18)

In fact, it’s probably not his proper name, it’s probably a name more like Pharaoh of Egypt but Abimelech is the king and the ruler of a territory called Gerar; and so we saw that background develop last week, verses 1 and 2.

We saw Abraham’s movement, verse one (Gen 20:1) and then we saw, verse 2 (Gen 20:2), Abraham goes back to his bag of tricks. His bag of tricks are my goodness! Sarah, let’s work something out in advance here. I mean, you’re so beautiful as my wife. As we’re walking around here in the ancient near east, any king that sees you is going to want to take you into his harem and once they figure out I’m married to you, they’re going to want to kill me. So rather than trusting in God’s promises, let’s just kind of work out something in advance where just… I mean, just tell a little half lie, that’s okay. Just say, you know, that you’re my sister, you’re not my wife, which is half true, right? Cause you are my half-sister and that way my life will be spared, once the king takes you into his harem and so Abraham has pulled that trick in Genesis, 12. He obviously has grown in a lot of areas but he hasn’t outgrown this habit and there’s an interesting thing about our walk with God, we don’t outgrow habits, He wants us to outgrow. He keeps recycling us through the exact same trial and tribulation, have you noticed that? Maybe the scenery changes a little bit, the circumstances change a little bit but God says, alright, you didn’t learn your lesson? Let’s send you through this again and this is what’s happening. Essentially what happened in chapter 12 is repeated again in chapter 20 and the reason this is a big deal is the moment Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem is the moment the seed promise is endangered. God was very clear that it’s going to be through Abraham and Sarah that Isaac is going to be born and Isaac, which will see, his birth in chapter 21 most likely next week, is a big deal because it’s through Isaac the nation of Israel will continue, leading ultimately to Jesus, and what is happening here is endangering this seed promise, because if Abimelech impregnates Sarah, that would violate the prophecy that the child is supposed to come through Abraham and Sarah.

So God intervenes in verses 3 through 8 of chapter 20 (Gen 20:3-8) in the life of this man Abimelech and gives him a strong warning.

God doesn’t beat around the bush, He says, you’re as good as dead. How would you like it if God showed up in a dream to you one night and said that? And of course of, Abimelech begins to defend himself because he says, I had no idea that Sarah was married to Abraham. They told me that they were just brother-sister. So Abimelech is sort of defending himself and God actually sees into the heart of this man Abimelech and sees that his motives here are actually pure, and tells Abimelech exactly what he needs to do to get out of this problem. Abimelech gives the report to his household and they all fall into fear, verse 8 (Gen 20:8). This of course is all the outworking of a promise that God made to Abram back in Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3), the one who curses you, I will curse. The moment God put His hand on Abraham and said to Abraham through you is going to come a nation and through that nation, there’ll be blessings for the whole world, is the moment God knew that Satan would attack the nation of Israel. God, anticipating that, gave to Abraham a promise at the very beginning, anyone who curses you, I will personally curse; anyone who blesses you, I will personally bless. That’s why Abimelech is finding himself here on the wrong side of God, which is a dangerous place to be when you think about it. You know, we are worried about being on the wrong side of our boss. What about being on the wrong side of God? That’s where Abimelech finds himself;

Genesis 20 Abraham & Abimelech

  1. Background (Gen 20:1-2)
  2. Abimelech & God (Gen 20:3-8)
  3. Abimelech & Abraham (Gen 20:9-15)
  4. Abimelech & Sarah (Gen 20:16)
  5. Removal of the curse (Gen 20:17-18)

and then you have a scenario developing between Abimelech and Abraham, verses 9 through 15 (Gen 20:9-15), where Abimelech confronts Abraham, says, what are you doing? You told me that she was your sister. Why didn’t you tell me the truth? So Abimelech makes these charges against Abraham, verses 9 and 10 (Gen 20:9-10) and here goes Abraham with his excuses, verses 11 through 13 (Gen 20:11-13).

Excuse number one: I was afraid, verse 11 (Gen 20:11). It’s interesting how many poor decisions we make when we’re afraid. I’m not sure God ever accepts that as an excuse, I was afraid. What’s there to be afraid of? The very hairs on your head are numbered. It sort of reminds me of the parable of the talents, do you remember the fellow that took his talent and he hid it into the ground and it specifically says in Matthew, 25, I was afraid. You’ll notice that God didn’t accept that as an excuse. He calls him a wicked, lazy servant and from there Abraham gives a fabrication or a fib, he tells God or tells Abimelech, I should say, we’ve been using this story ever since we were called out of the Ur of the Chaldeans. We’ve been doing this half-truth. So there’s a fabrication, verse 12 (Gen 20:12) and actually verse 13 (Gen 20:13) it’s been our policy. You know, we’ve been telling this half lie probably for about 25 years and it’s kind of interesting that we think if we’re in a sinful behavior and if we’ve done it for a long time, I guess that’s okay. No, sin is sin, Amen? A lie is a lie and what you see there in verses 14 and 15 (Gen 20:14-15), where we pick it up today, is Abimelech’s response to what Abraham just told him. 10:17

So Abimelech responds to Abraham in three ways.

Number one: Gifts. He gives him gifts; Number two: He returns Sarah, smart move on his part; and number three: He gives them an offer. So notice, if you will, Genesis chapter 20, notice if you will verse 14 (Gen 20:14): Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham… He gives, apparently here, Abraham four items. You might recall that when this happened in Genesis 12 with Pharaoh of Egypt, the same sort of thing happened. Genesis 12, verse 16 (Gen 12:16) says: Therefore, he… that’s Pharaoh… treated Abraham well, for her sake and gave him sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys and camels… So here is something that keeps happening in spite of Abraham’s disobedience, he keeps getting more and more wealthy and you say, well, that’s just not fair and you’re right, it isn’t fair in terms of justice, but God is not dealing with Abraham on the basis of justice, He’s dealing with him on the basis of what? Starts with a G. It ends in “race”, Grace, unmerited favor, because the covenant that God originally gave to Abraham was unconditional. We saw that in Genesis chapter 15. In other words, the covenant for its fulfillment rests completely and totally on the shoulders of God and not on the shoulders of Abraham.

Evidence of Abrahamic Covenant’s Unconditional Nature

  • ANE covenant ratification ceremony (Gen 15)
  • Lack of stated conditions for Israel’s obedience (Gen 15)
  • Covenant’s eternality (Gen 17:7, 13, 19; Ps. 90:2)
  • Covenant’s immutability (Heb 6:13-18; Mal. 3:6)
  • Trans-generational reaffirmation despite perpetual national disobedience (Jer 31:35-37)

Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, 149-52

That was the significance we saw in Genesis, 15 of Abraham being put to sleep by God as God by Himself or God alone passed through the oven and the torch. So if this bothers you, that Abraham keeps getting wealthy in spite of his sin, you really have not understood or we really haven’t understood the unconditional nature of this covenant. The fact that this covenant was given on the basis of grace or unmerited favor and I would submit to you that if you look at your life, I know it’s true that when I do an inventory of my own life, God in my Christian life has treated me in many, many ways much better than what I deserve. Why? Because He deals with me and He deals with you as His child on the same basis, on the basis of grace and woe to the person who shakes their fist, their clenched fist in God’s face and says, God give me what I deserve. When someone says that, I usually move away as fast as I can because I think a lightning bolt is about to be launched from heaven and if God is this gracious towards us, maybe we ought to be a little bit more gracious towards other people. It’s kind of interesting how we have a tendency to treat others in our horizontal relationships with justice, when in our vertical relationship with God that is not how God has treated us. He’s treated us with grace and you know you’re really beginning to understand the concept of grace when it has an impact on how you treat other people. Yeah, but pastor you don’t understand what so and so said and what so and so did to me and you’re right, I don’t understand that but I do understand what Jesus did for you. Jesus when He died on the cross two thousand years ago had us in mind and He decided to treat us a lot better than we deserve to be treated. It’s called the walk of grace, the understanding of grace and it’s so interesting how we can turn around and treat somebody else with justice, when we’ve been treated so well. In fact, you might remember Matthew, 18 there’s a whole parable that Jesus told about this. A man that’s, you know, forgiven a vast sum of money and he, the man who is forgiven, goes and finds someone that owes them a small amount of money and he demands to be paid in full and he has the fellow thrown into debtor’s prison and you look at a parable like that and you say, boy, that’s obnoxious that guy. Doesn’t he know what he’s received and yet that’s what we’re like when we harbor unforgiving spirits towards people that have mistreated us. We need to learn how to treat people differently because God treats us on the basis of grace. I see grace all the way through this chapter. Abraham, despite his half lies and human manipulation, actually is becoming wealthy. 15:57

There is something very interesting here in the ancient near eastern literature, Arnold Fruchtenbaum here is quoting Middle Assyrian Law. Have you had your devotional reading lately in middle Assyrian law from the fifteenth to the twelfth century? Roughly a little later, but roughly the same time that these stories here took place and Arnold Fruchtenbaum says:

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 338

“Abimelech’s action is in keeping with Middle Assyrian Law (15th-12th century b.c.): ‘If in the case of a seignior’s [man’s] wife, one not her father, nor her brother, nor her son, but another person, has caused her to take to the road, but he did not know that she was a seignior’s [man’s] wife, he shall (so) swear and he shall also pay two talents of lead to the woman’s husband.’”

Now, I’m not sure what you do with two talents of lead, but I guess that had value in that time period and so when you take somebody that is mistakenly married to someone else and you didn’t know about their marriage, you’re supposed to pay them financially. That’s what Middle Assyrian Law of the time period called for and that’s what Abimelech is doing. Why do I bring this up? Because we’re living in a time period where everybody’s telling us the Bible is just a bunch of fictitious fairy tales. There’s no truth in it. I mean, no one would actually believe this is real history. I mean, these are just nice stories, right? That someone made up, wrong! Over and over again what you’ll discover in the Bible is the Bible presents a credible scenario that fits identically over and over again with the known archaeology and customs of that time period and these are things that you need to know about because your children and your grandchildren are being taught over and over again even if it’s by their own iPhone. Do we understand that we’re living in a generation where a child can learn more from their own iPhone and the iPhone could have more influence over the mind of the child than the child’s parents or grandparents. I mean, there are all kinds of signals that the wicked one has dispensed over all kinds of media or mediums that he controls, education being another example where your children are being told over and over again and your grandchildren that this book is just fictitious, no one believes that this is real history and unless you’re in a church that’s equipping you with answers, which is why bring these things up, not to bore you, your children and grandchildren are just going to be swept into the tidal wave of unbelief and you need to be equipped to the point where you can say no, Genesis, 20 is not a fiction and here’s why. Look at how Abimelech’s actions are consistent with Middle Assyrian Law. Now, you want to get your children’s attention? Tell them that, cause most grandparents and parents can’t even say that cause they’re not equipped to do that, but you’re being equipped to do that and God is using these things that look like, you know, rabbit trails and just irrelevant information, the Holy Spirit is actually using these things to prepare you for your ministry to your children and your grandchildren. 19:45

The second thing he is told to return or the second way Abimelech responds is he gives back Sarah. It says at the end of verse 14 (Gen 20:14): And restored his wife Sarah to him… Why is all of this being brought up? Because Genesis is tracing the seed promise, the coming Messiah and anytime that seed promise is threatened, Genesis is going to talk about it, because the point of this book is how this seed promises are ultimately going to be delivered to planet earth. That’s why there’s all that stuff that we went into in Genesis, 6, about the sons of God and the daughters of men and the angels, fallen angels cohabitating with human women, why bring that up? Cause that’s an attack on the seed promise. What you’re seeing here in Genesis, 20 through Abimelech’s actions is yet another attack on the seed promise because Genesis, 18, verse 10 (Gen 18:10) says: Sarah your wife will have a son… Through Sarah and Abraham, Isaac is going to be born and Abimelech potentially sexually molesting Sarah and impregnating her would be outside of that blueprint. What Abimelech is doing here is jeopardizing God’s plan, program and purpose for the nation of Israel which is about to be birthed, which is being birthed as we speak but Isaac is the key guy. This is why God is dealing with Abimelech aggressively. You are a dead man if you keep this up. Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3): I will curse those who curse you… it’s coming into open view here for all to see. Fortunately, Abimelech is very wise. He doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of God, he wants to get this right and he gives Abraham gifts, he returns Sarah unmolested and in verse 15, he actually makes, this man Abimelech, Abraham an offer. Verse 15 (Gen 20:15), it says: Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please… Now, this is very different than what Pharaoh did when Abraham pulled this stunt in Genesis, 12. In Genesis, 12, verse 19 (Gen 12:19) Pharaoh at that point just said, here’s your wife take her and go, get out of here. I mean, I don’t want anything to do with you. I don’t want to do anything with your God that is bringing a curse on my life, just get out of here and this guy Abimelech is a lot wiser. Basically what he’s saying is stay, my land is before you, dwell where you please. That’s an amazing statement here and so again you see this theme of Abraham keeps getting more and more wealthy every time he does this and this is bothersome to us because we want Abraham to be dealt with justice but that is not God’s program for Abraham. He is dealing with him on the basis of what? The basis of grace. God back in Genesis, 12, verse 2 (Gen 12:2) when He made to Abraham these unconditional promises said, I will make you a great nation and I will bless you.

  1. 8 New Promises Genesis 12:1-3
      1. Land (Gen. 12:1b)
      2. Great nation (Gen. 12:2a)
      3. Personal blessing (Gen. 12:2b)
      4. Great name (Gen. 12:2c)
      5. Blessing to others (Gen. 12:2d)
      6. Blessing to blessers (Gen. 12:3a)
      7. Cursing to cursers (Gen. 12:3b)
      8. Blessing to the world (Gen. 12:3c)

So Abraham you’re going to be blessed whether you want to be or not. Abraham, you’re going to be blessed whether you deserve it or not, cause I’m dealing with you on the basis of grace and let’s be honest folks, that’s why any of us have any blessings from God. God deals with us on the basis of grace. 24:06

So here you have a situation where an unbeliever, Abimelech outdoes a believer, Abraham. I mean, Abimelech looks a lot more righteous here than Abraham does. In the doctrine of Calvinism, known as the acronym TULIP.

The T in their doctrine stands for total depravity. Total depravity, the way they think about it, is the idea that man is as wicked as you can possibly be and they basically teach that man is so wicked, he’s like a corpse, he’s dead, he is in sort of an insensate state and all of us are in this condition according to Calvinism and so even when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our need to trust in Christ we don’t even have the ability. One man called us in our depraved state, cadavers, meaning corpses. So then how do people get saved? Well, God has to do something, according to Calvinism, independent of our volition. The fancy name this goes by is regeneration precedes faith. God has to make you born again so you can believe. They talk about the gift of faith, faith is not something that you actually exercise, you have no ability to do that. So God has to give you the gift of faith and who gets the gift of faith and who is regenerated so that they can believe? Everybody is, right? No, no, no, not according to Calvinism. Only a fraction of the human race is given this gift. Only a fraction of the human race, they call the elect, are given the ability to do this. Everyone else is on their way to hell and they deserve it. John Calvin used the expression “Doomed from the womb”. In other words, if you are not one of the elect, you are in a position where you cannot believe, it’s an impossibility, you are a cadaver and unless you’re one of the elect, unless God regenerated you first so that you could believe and gave you the gift of faith and you find yourself in hell and you stand before God and you say well, God you never give me much of a choice, if that’s how you work, God says, translation, tough tacos. That’s too bad. In other words, in Calvinism the vast majority of the human race, except for this fraction called the elect, their whole purpose is to go into torment with absolutely no choice in the matter at all and as the flames arise and as the smoke arises to God’s nostrils, somehow in Calvinism God is glorified. This is why Dave Hunt wrote a book against Calvinism called “What love is this?” What kind of loving God are we talking about here when you talk in these terms? I know this upsets a lot of people when I bring these things up, but you’re not sitting in a Calvinist church that teaches this. You’re not sitting in an Armenian church either, that teaches you can lose your salvation. What you’re sitting in as a Bible church that teaches the Bible verse by verse and when the Bible departs from Jacob Arminius or John Calvin, we depart from Jacob Arminius or John Calvin, because the authority at Sugar Land Bible Church is the Bible. That’s our middle name, isn’t it? Sugar Land Bible Church, but the reason I bring it up is the whole system of Calvinism springs from the T or total depravity and you can see with Abimelech that he was really not as bad as he could possibly be. He’s actually outperforming the patriarch Abraham here, which when you look at stories like this in the Bible you can see that the Calvinistic system has over exaggerated total depravity. Henry Clarence Thiessen in his lectures in systematic theology says, published in 1979:

Henry Clarence Thiessen  – Lectures in Systematic Theology, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 191.

“The Scriptures speak of human nature as totally depraved. However, the doctrine of ‘total depravity’ is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. From the negative standpoint, it is important to know both what it does not mean and what it does mean. This does not mean that every sinner is devoid of all qualities pleasing to men; that he commits, or is prone to every form of sin; or that he is bitterly opposed to God as it is possible for him to be. Jesus recognized the existence of pleasing qualities in some individuals (Mark 10:21); He said that the scribes and Pharisees did some things God demanded (Matt. 23:23); Paul asserted that some Gentiles ‘do instinctively the things of the law’ (Rom. 2:14); God told Abraham that the iniquity of the Amorites would grow worse (Gen. 15:16); and Paul says that ‘evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse’ (2 Tim. 3:13).”

People are not as bad as they can possibly be. What does Thiessen say here? You have to understand what total depravity is and is not. If you get the wrong definition you’ll fall prey to a Calvinistic system, but if you get the right definition, you’ll steer clear of many errant and aberrant systems. What total depravity is not?

Total Depravity

  • What total depravity is not:
    • Man is as evil as he can possibly be & indulges every possible sin
    • Man is incapable of doing good things
      • 3:22
      • 7:11
      • Acts 10:1-2
      • 2:14-15

Total depravity and the doctrine is not saying that man is as evil as he can possibly be and he indulges every possible sin, because unbelievers will give money to the cancer research society, won’t they? Unbelievers will apply the brakes when they see a child in the crosswalk. You don’t have to be a Christian to do those basic things. So obviously an understanding of depravity which says we’re as wicked as we can possibly be is overblown. Abimelech demonstrates this, he’s an unbeliever and he’s outperforming the patriarch. The Bible teaches that man in his fallen state can still do good things. Jesus said in Matthew, 7, verse 11 (Matt 7:11): If you though you’re evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more our heavenly father will give good gifts to those who ask… An unbeliever knows how to bless their children. An unbeliever like Cornelius in Acts, 10, verses 1 and 2 (Acts 10:1-2) knows how to seek God. Romans, 2, verses 14 and 15 (Rom 2:14-15) says: An unbeliever can instinctively obey the law of God as written on the heart of the unbeliever… Genesis, 3, verse 22 (Gen 3: 22): God when man fell says, now you know, the difference between good and evil… Good and evil. So total depravity doesn’t mean people are as bad as they can possibly be. Okay, well, what does it mean then? What it means, properly defined, is that every… That’s where we get the word total… every area of our being has been touched by original sin.

Total Depravity

  • What total depravity is:
    • Every area of man’s being is touched by sin
      • Intellect (Prov. 3:5-6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 3:11a)
      • Conscience (1 Tim 4:2)
      • Will (Rom 1:28; 3:11b)
      • Deeds (Rom. 3:12)
      • Speech (Rom. 3:13-14)
      • Feet (Rom. 3:15)

My intellect has been touched by original sin. My conscience has been touched by original sin. My deeds have been touched by original sin. My speech, oh! That doesn’t happen, does it? In the life of the Christian. Our speech, what we say, has being touched by original sin. Our feet, which are swift to shed blood sometimes, have been touched by original sin.

Total Depravity

  • What total depravity is:
    • Every area of man’s being is touched by sin (cont’d)
      • Heart (Mark 7:21; Eph 4:18)
      • Body (Gen 3:19; Rom. 8:23)
      • Total being (Rom 1:18–3:20)
    • Man is incapable of earning merit favor from God (Isa 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9)

My heart has been touched by original sin. My body has been touched by original sin. Right now, as I speak, our physical bodies are wearing down. But pastor, that’s not true, I drink all that green stuff every morning. Well, congratulations you’ve got a bunch of green stuff going through a body that’s decomposing and as I’ve said many times all you got to do to validate this is take out your high school yearbook picture, take out your driver’s license, modern driver’s license, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. In other words, original sin has touched all of me, that’s what total means. It doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything good but there’s one thing I can’t do. I am incapable as a depraved person of earning merit from God. I can earn merit from my fellow men, but I can’t earn merit from God. It doesn’t mean I’m as wicked as I can possibly be, it doesn’t mean that I am comatose to spiritual things unless God regenerates me first, these are all over statements of what the Bible is saying. Total means every aspect of my being has been touched by sin and I can’t do anything to earn God’s favor other than trusting in the good work which Jesus did for me two thousand years ago. That’s a good work that God will accept cause it’s not mine, it’s Jesus’ good work in my place and I bring this up because as you look at this man Abimelech, he seems like a pretty decent guy. Is he saved? I don’t know, it doesn’t say that. Is he right with God based on what he’s doing here in terms of his ultimate arrival in heaven? Doesn’t say that either, but he’s doing a lot of good things from a human level; he’s actually outperforming Abram, the patriarch and so be careful what you’re doing with total depravity because if you get it wrong, the dominoes will start to fall. John Calvin was a brilliant attorney, brilliant and his system makes sense from a logical perspective. The problem is logic is only as good as your starting point. Logic is major premise, minor premise, conclusion. Calvinism makes perfect sense if the major premise is right, which is the T or total depravity, but I’m here to tell you that his major premise is not right. Don’t get your major premise from John Calvin, don’t get your major premise for me, get your major promise from God and that will keep your mind away from a lot of things that ensnare Christendom and Christians. 36:55

We come to verse 16 where, as Sarah departs from Abimelech, Abimelech has some words for Sarah. Verse 16 (Gen 20:16): To Sarah he said, Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is your vindication before all who are with you, and before all men you are cleared… So Abimelech and Sarah are parting cause Abimelech is being wise, he wants to be on the right side of God. So he says, there you go, here’s a thousand pieces of silver. Now that’s in addition to everything that Abram got earlier in the chapter. Do you remember everything Abram got? Verse 14? Sheep, oxen, male and female servants. Then he said, my whole land is in front of you, settle wherever you want and Oh! By the way, Sarah, when you go back to your husband, here’s a thousand pieces of silver. So you’ll notice again Abraham keeps getting wealthy in spite of his half lie that got him into this mess because God is dealing with Abraham on the basis of… Grace, not on the basis of merit. You’ll notice it says here in verse 16 (Gen 20:16) he calls Abraham, Sarah’s brother. In other words, when Abimelech does that, he is essentially saying I’m innocent. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know the facts, I didn’t know the details when I brought you for myself. He says here, cover your eyes. In other words, render you blind, precluding all criticism of wrongdoing. He tells Sarah that she has been righted, she has been approved. Do you remember earlier in the chapter there have been no sexual contact between Abimelech and Sarah and Abimelech says, I don’t like God showing up in a dream and telling me I’m as good as dead. I want to get it right. Does an unbeliever have the ability to do that without being regenerated first? Yes they do and this doesn’t save them, but clearly it’s a step in the right direction as they’re responding to conscience and then this chapter ends and don’t celebrate quite yet cause there’s a lot of these verses, but this chapter ends with one of the most amazing things I can find in the whole Bible where the liar, that created the problem, is praying for Abimelech and God answers the prayers.

Genesis 20 Abraham & Abimelech

  1. Background (Gen 20:1-2)
  2. Abimelech & God (Gen 20:3-8)
  3. Abimelech & Abraham (Gen 20:9-15)
  4. Abimelech & Sarah (Gen 20:16)
  5. Removal of the curse (Gen 20:17-18)

Is that not a work of grace or what? I mean, I hope you don’t think that when God answers your prayers, that somehow you’re worthy of that answer. God doesn’t deal with us on that basis, He deals with us on the basis of grace. When He answers a prayer request of yours, that’s grace. Just like our salvation is grace. This is a very different way of thinking than the world system thinks cause the world system always says, you want to get ahead at work? Please your boss. You want to get ahead at work? Make sure that you perform well, and you get a good performance appraisal. You want to get ahead in academia? Please your professor. You want to get your parents on your team? Obey your parents. I mean, that’s a merit system. The whole world system is set up on the basis of merit. In fact, I would say this, this is what distinguishes biblical Christianity from all other religious systems. All religious systems in essence are teaching that man has to do X, Y and Z to be made right with God and the Bible says, you can’t do anything to be made right with God. So God says rather than you reaching up, I’ll reach down in the person of Jesus Christ, which you can accept as a gift and that’s what makes you saved or unsaved. 41:46

Well, how could that be? That’s so different than anything I’ve ever been taught. In fact, it’s so easy I just can’t receive it. Do you realize that as I speak hell itself is filled with people who never received the gift because they thought it was just too easy. It is much easier to give a gift than it is to receive it, because when you receive a gift, you’re in essence saying I need this. Can’t work for it but I need it and so I’ll receive it. It requires, and I think this is why God has set up salvation this way, it requires some level of humility. This is why Paul in the book of Galatians chapter 5, verse 11 (Gal 5:11) called the cross an offense, why would it be an offense? The cross is an offense because it’s the one thing in this world, the most important thing you can have, that you can’t get it through human merit. You have to receive it as a gift or you can’t receive it and people hear that and they trip right over it. They stumble over it. This is different than anything I’ve ever heard. You know, if you tell people that you can work for your salvation, let me tell you something, they’ll line up to hear that. You know, why they want to hear that? Because they want to get into heaven proud as a peacock strutting around. Look at what I did to get myself here. Now, isn’t God interesting in how He has designed salvation in such a way, what does the Bible say? So that no one can… What? Boast, Romans 3:27, Ephesians 2:8-9. You get into heaven and you have absolutely nothing to brag about because it’s not your merit that got you there, it’s Jesus’ merit that you received as a gift. That is injurious to the pride of man. Man doesn’t like to hear that, because man from the very beginning, has been trying to fix things through his own loin coverings. We saw that in Genesis 3:22, when we were there about fifteen years ago, probably. Genesis, 11, man was trying to climb up to God on this tower that would reach into heaven, the tower of Babel, Genesis, 11. Man is always trying to work for get something from God on my own merit. God says, you can’t do it and so you see Abraham becoming more, more wealthy. I mean, we got silver, we’ve got cattle and we’ve got real estate. That’s quite a portfolio when you think about it and he doesn’t deserve any of that because he lied. All grace. So God now uses Abraham to repeal the curse from Abimelech via prayer.

So notice Abraham’s prayer, verse 17 (Gen 20:17): Abraham prayed to God… In other words, as we’re going to see, his prayer remove the curse upon Abimelech even though Abraham lied because Abraham has a covenant coming from God that is unconditional. A work of grace as we’ve talked about and look at the result, verse 17 (Gen 20:17): and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children… Apparently, verse 18 (Gen 20:18) as we’ll see God put a curse on the entire household of Abimelech so that they could not bear children and God used the prayer of a liar to remove that curse. A work of grace. James chapter 5, and verse 16 (James 5:16) says: The prayer of a righteous man when it is brought about can accomplish much… Yeah, but pastor, Abraham wasn’t a righteous man. Oh, he wasn’t a righteous man practically, but he sure was one positionally, because back in Genesis, 15, verse 6 (Gen 15:6), it says: Abraham believed God and it was credited him for righteousness… and it was because of that standing of grace that God could honor Abraham’s prayer, although, despite the fact that there was recurring sin in Abraham’s life. The truth of the matter is this, 2nd Timothy, 2, verse 13 (2 Tim 2:13) says: If we are faithless, He remains… What? Faithful for He cannot deny Himself. You see, when you teach justification without good works on the front end, Christendom will applaud you for that, but when you teach that no amount of good (bad) works on the back end can cancel what you have in justification, there’s a division, because I am convinced, then I become more convinced of it, the more I study the Bible is that Christianity has had from its inception a difficult time with this doctrine of grace. I mean, we’re just too worldly in our thinking to completely let this one out of the bottle. I mean, you let the toothpaste out of the tube here, oh my goodness! People, who knows how they’re going to live? You know how they’re going to live? They’re going to live like some of the most gracious, grateful people and forgiving people you’ve ever seen, because they have been treated with grace and they understand grace and someone that understands grace in its magnitude can’t really help but extend grace towards other people. I think this is why Satan is working, working, working to obscure this one, because of the impact this could have on Christianity. Christianity would change. It would totally change if we understood this, the way the Bible portrays it. 49:05

Well, what’s this deal about a curse? It’s the last verse, verse 18 (Gen 20:18) and it says: For the LORD had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife… And this is why I’ve entitled this sermon “In Kind” and generally, when I entitle a sermon based on a verse, I never get to the verse, so waste of a title, but I made it, verse 18, it’s going to fit the title: “In kind”, Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3) God says: I will curse those who curse you… In kind… It’s what it’s saying. That’s what God said to Abraham when the nation of Israel was getting launched. What does that even mean? I mean, how literal is that? I’m here to tell you that those words are the most literal words you could probably read in your whole life. They might even be the most literal words in the whole Bible and it’s just a matter of starting in Genesis, 12 and tracing it through the Bible. Why did God drown the Egyptians in Exodus, 14?

I mean, you know the story, the Red Sea parted, the Egyptians pursued the Israelis, God closed the waters on the Egyptians and the whole Egyptian army was drowned. Why did God do that? I mean, why not use a thunderbolt or a hurricane or something else? Why drown them? You have the answer at the beginning of the book of Exodus, where it says: Then Pharaoh commanded all his people saying, every son who is born, you are to throw into the Nile… God says, you Egyptians were drowning my people and now I’m going to drown you. Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3), that’s an outworking of it. Why did God kill all of the first born all over Egypt in plague number ten? Why do that? Well, you’ll have an answer to that at the beginning of the book of Exodus where God says, in Exodus, 4, verse 22 (Exo 4:22): Israel is my son, my firstborn… Egypt, do you want to play games with my firstborn son? I’m coming after your first born son. That’s the explanation for plague number ten. Why was the wicked Haman in the book of Esther hanged? You’ll find the answer in Esther chapter 7, verse 10 (Esther 7:10), which says: So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordechai… You want to hang my people on those gallows? That’s where you’re going to die and you can go right through the Bible and you can see this happen over and over again. You want to talk about a foreign policy statement concerning the nation of Israel? I don’t know if I want to go out on a limb here but you just track and I was just on a conference with Bill Koenig who wrote a book called Eye for Eye, you track what happens to political movements and presidents in the United States up to the second they make the declaration when they start to divide or move in the direction of dividing Israel, you just watch. I understand, a lot of people would laugh about what I’m saying, Oh, this is just Old Testament stuff, this doesn’t apply today to the current state of Israel. Folks, do you see a statute of limitations on here anywhere? Or a sunset provision? I mean, this is an immutable principle that God has established and when you understand this, you understand why God shut the wombs of those in the household of Abimelech. 53:56

Here’s a good explanation, I think, from Arnold Fruchtenbaum:

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 339-40

“Finally, in 20:18, the actual curse is revealed: For Jehovah had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Here again is an example of the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant and the curse-for-curse-in-kind principle. Abimelech’s action would have resulted in Isaac not being born, and so the specific curse against Abraham was the danger of extinction of Abraham’s line and the promised nation by keeping birth from occurring.”

“If Isaac would not be born, the Jewish nation would then die out with the death of Abraham. If God had not reversed the curse on Abimelech, he would have been faced with the real danger of extinction because of the inability of the women in his household to give birth to children. When Abimelech restored Sarah to Abraham, the future of Abimelech’s nation is restored by God.”

See what you are doing here Abimelech, by taking Sarah into your harem, is you’re jeopardizing my nation, You’re cutting off my nation. So I, in turn, because what you’re doing here would prevent the birth of Isaac, because you’re cutting off my nation, I’m going to cut off your nation. I’m going to close all of the wombs of all of the women in your whole household, you cut off my nation, I cut off your nation. Why would I do that? Because of Genesis, 12, verse 3 (Gen 12:3). You know, of all of the sermons that are being preached around the United States of America today, countless sermons, how many of them are talking about this subject? Which if you understand it, explains the whole mess that we’re in right now as a country and I’m really restraining myself cause there’s a lot I want to say about it. I’m not going to do that to you.

So an amazing story here Genesis chapter 20, as we’ve seen in the background, Abimelech and God, Abimelech and Abraham, Abimelech and Sarah and the ultimate removal of the curse and next week, guess who is to be born?

Isaac is going to be born, because God protected the seed here, the nation will continue through the miraculous birth of Isaac and so I would suggest you read Genesis, 21 in preparation for next time. All of these actions God took so Jesus could come through the Jewish line and die for the sins of the world. Why do all that? Cause God loves you. God did all of this to get Jesus at our doorstep so we could receive him by faith and so our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church, as we preach the gospel, the crucified and resurrected Jesus whose final words were, it is finished, is to receive what He has done as a gift and you can do that right now as I’m speaking, by placing your personal trust, not the trust of your parents or grandparents, but your personal trust into the person of Jesus and that’s what saves you. What must I do to be saved? The Philippine jailer asked, Paul and Silas say, believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. It’s that’s simple. It’s a work or an act of grace that God gives. We receive it as a gift by trust and if you’ve never done that I would invite you to do that now, those of you within the sound of my voice, either in the building, listening online, listening on the archives after the fact, to trust in the Savior. If it’s anything more you need explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray? Father, we’re grateful for the book of Genesis, even the obscure parts of it. Thank you for helping us to understand how real these things are to our lives. Thank you for being a God the same yesterday today and forever. We glorify you in that. We lift up these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.