He took another man's wife. He saw a beautiful woman and, as king of Gerar, he wanted her. So he sent for her and took her. In his mind, he had every right to take her because she was travelling with a man who said she was his sister.
It was a lie. A lie told by a man who should have known better because he was in intimate contact with the Most High God. But Abraham's fear of being killed for his wife led him down a path that was all too easy to follow.
Abimelech had taken Abraham's wife and death was on the way.
"Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman you have taken, for she is a man's wife. Genesis 20:3"
Yikes! Can you imagine how frightened Abimelech must have been when God told him that he was going to die, that he was in fact, a dead man?
I would have been shaking in my boots - or should I say, my sheets!
But I have to admire Abimelech's response. Knowing that he had not touched her, he was quick to defend himself:
“Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this. (Genesis 20:4-5 TLB)”
What he was really saying was, "God, I'm innocent. I didn't know she was married. Both of them told me that they were just 'brother and sister'. There was no way I could have known."
And this is where the real beauty of the story comes out:
“Yes, I know,” the Lord replied. “That is why I held you back from sinning against me; that is why I didn’t let you touch her (Genesis 20:6, emphasis added)"
Did you get that? Abraham's lie could have had life-changing results for a number of persons:
But God in His infinite wisdom knew all that and more. And so He made provisions to save Abimelech from the evil plan of the enemy. Yes, the enemy. Did you think I was going to say Abraham? Nope. Abraham was as much a victim as Abimelech was.
Satan tried to use Abraham's fear to destroy Abimelech, Abraham and Sarah. Will we ever know the full extent of his fiendish plan? Not until we see Jesus and He gives us the answer. What we do know is that the enemy had an evil plan but God blocked it and turned it around for good.
Instead of being destroyed along with his entire household, Abimelech was prayed for and received healing for himself and his house (Genesis 20:7, 17-18)
Instead of losing his wife and having to live with the guilt, not to mention losing out on the birth of the promised child, Abraham received sheep, oxen, male and female servants, a place to live and a thousand silver pieces (Genesis 20:14-16).
Instead of having to deal with the shame of becoming another man's wife against her will, Sarah got validation (which in those days was as good as an apology) (Genesis 20:16).
Isn't this story amazing? A "little lie" had the potential to have huge, negative consequences for a number of people. But God was able to use it to be a blessing.
Lord, I thank You for being a God who sees the consequences of our actions, beyond what we can see with our limited vision. I thank you for intervening in those instances when the enemy would have me destroyed and using it for good. I ask that You continue to keep me under Your righteous right hand. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Can you think of a time in your life when God used what should have been a negative thing to be a huge blessing for you and others?
Linking up at Grace & Truth