Genesis Day 36: When deep fears emerge…we can forget all we’ve learned
Any deep fears in your life?
I don’t mean something sudden, like being held up at gunpoint. I mean some deep-seated worry or fear that rarely emerges... but when it does, you act irrationally.
Most days I trundle along… well not really—most days I have more to do than I can possibly get done. So much so, that I get up before the alarm goes off—and I’m off, off to the race. (You might find it surprising, but I have to really be intentional to make my first act of the day time with God—but that is for another day.)
There are one or two things in my life, that if they emerge, completely derail me.
Why do I bring this up? Because that is what is going on with Abraham.
I am convinced of it.
This is a man of faith. This is man who, after God opens Sarah’s womb, nations will spill forth from his family. This man puts all that at risk. Recall, Abraham believed God would make him the father of many nations. He is simply waiting on God (as if that is simple). Yet in this chapter he sends Sarah away, as his “sister”.
Why I am convinced that Abraham has a “deep-seated fear”? The text tells us that he, and Sarah his wife, had hatched this plan long ago. Look at verse 13. It reveals that as far back as God’s call to Abraham to leave his homeland (Genesis 12:1), that he and Sarah established this plan. He, or maybe they, were worried enough about this situation that they plotted this deceit many years ahead. They have already used the scheme once, and now they are at it again.
Not to make excuses for Abraham, but to give us all a little perspective. Abraham is a pilgrim. He wanders. Abraham is also a tribal leader. He is not wandering around by himself. He brings with him a lot of people. Add to that situation his fame—he was successful in war. He, and all his household, would not go unnoticed. So how does a “big tribal leader” who wanders into a city make peace with the local rulers? Often through intermarriage—yet Abraham had no offspring. The point? Abraham is in a major city where caravans crossed. It is not just a city of commerce, it is a royal city—he is a significant ruler in his own right—Abraham’s fears emerge.
What are those fears? Abraham fears that rulers would want to marry the beautiful Sarah, and would therefore kill him.
That is Abraham’s base fear—that he will be put to death—so that his gorgeous wife Sarah could be taken in marriage.
The morality of the day would not tolerate adultery (or bigamy), but apparently murder is okay. (Who knew?)
Not to be too sarcastic, but this issue of adultery is real. Look at Abimelech’s response. He could have any number of responses. Would you respond the way Abimelech does?
In short, Abimelech acts nobly. God, despite Abraham, brings Sarah and her husband through the situation.
Look at what God does: despite Abraham and his deep-seated fear, God is faithful.
God intercedes with a king who is not necessarily part of the “circumcised”. This king pleads with God and makes reparations even though he was deceived. And finally, this king has Abraham the prophet, pray that the wombs of Abimelech’s people be opened.
Remarkable, really. Interesting, that Abraham had been praying for decades (I imagine) that Sarah’s womb be opened. After this episode, and after this prayer, it will be.