Published on
October 3, 2023

Genesis 20

“Abraham replied, ‘I thought: “There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.” Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father...”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Genesis 20
“Abraham replied, ‘I thought: “There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.” Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father, though not the daughter of my mother. So when God had me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: show your loyalty to me wherever we go, and say about me: ‘He is my brother.’” Genesis 20:11-13

I have always had difficulty with Abraham’s lying…or, shall we say, “half-truths.” I can understand his fear. I have been afraid. I can understand his lack of faith; I have often lacked faith. But as a husband, it is painful to observe how Abraham placed his personal security above Sarah’s physical and emotional well-being. And he profited from it.

**Note: The Bible does not condone Abraham’s behavior. It simply relays the facts. Scripture does NOT counsel, “So what have we learned? Men, the next time you’re facing a potentially life-threatening situation, you should passively lie and put your wife in jeopardy.” It also does not come straight out and say, “Women, you should participate in your husband’s lies, even if they cause you emotional (and perhaps physical) distress…because in the end, you will profit from them.” No, Scripture is simply silent about this particular matter…or is it?

Imagine yourself as Sarah. You have been hearing your husband speak of God and faith. That side of him really attracts you to him. But at other times, he does completely faith-less things!! After a while of this moral and spiritual back & forth, it must have been hard for Sarah to discern the voice of God saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord!” from the voice of Abraham saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord!”

Perhaps, I’ve seen too many soap operas, but this is the dynamic I pick up between the two. Let’s review the timeline: A) God’s call of Abram, “I will make you into a great nation” (12:2). B) Abram goes to Egypt and profits from his lie. (12:10-20) Part of Abram’s profit is an Egyptian slave named Hagar. (16:3) C) The Lord tells Abram his heir will come from his own body. (15:4) D) Sarah offers her slave to Abram, and intimacy with Hagar leads to baby Ishmael…family strife ensues. (16:1-6) E) God tells Abraham he will have a son with Sarah and Abraham laughs, for he didn’t believe God. (17:15-19) F) When the Angels tell Abraham that Sarah will have a son within a year, she laughs and doesn’t believe. (18:10-15) G) Now, Sarah was distressed anew: Abraham would profit from another lie. Is it any wonder Sarah doubted Abraham’s ability to understand, communicate and lead by God’s Word? Men, take note.

Sarah may not have been able to trust Abraham’s discernment, but she was about to learn that she could depend on God’s promise, spoken directly to her. (18:10-13) We may be forced to endure all sorts of unforeseeable circumstances. Life is often unbearable to take were it not for God’s great gracious and merciful promises, spoken directly to us. Where do we learn of these promises? Right there in the Bible! Keep pressing on!!

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