Gen 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, Abraham left the mountain, overlooking Sodom, and jourmeyed south. I wonder if he was moving away to distance himself from Lot and his daughters? Gerar is in the land of the Philistines, in south west Palestine. Abraham had just finished a time of intercession and meeting with God; an intimacy which many Christians aspire to have. Some claim to have reached such a high place. We sing the hymn "Higher Ground", I want to scale the utmost height, And catch a gleam of glory bright, and some full of pride say that they never sin. Self righteousness will always fail.
Gen 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
The Bible shows it's heroes as they were, with their weaknesses and their strengths. This was not a moment of strength for Abraham. He repeated what he did thirty years earlier in Egypt; out of fear for his own life he called Sarah his sister. Now Sarah must have been a beauty at 90 years of age, for the king to take her for his harem. One commentator said of this, was Abraham any better than Lot here? Lot offered his virgin daughters to protect two strangers; whereas Abraham offered his wife to protect himself. The natural man is prone to stumble. We must renew our minds, putting away sinful habits and patterns and conform ourselves after Jesus Christ, and walk in the Spirit. Beware of stumbling, following a spiritual high. Jesus himself shows us this pattern. For in a high point in his ministry, immediately he faced a time of testing.
Mark 1:11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Mark 1:12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
Mark 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
Jesus never failed, but we sometimes fail.
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.
This was terrible sin in God's eyes and also in this pagan King's eyes. Yet, on the Internet some speak of swapping of partners for social pleasure. These same people regard the Christian witness as intolerant. What does God think of this? You are a dead man, unless you repent.
Gen 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
Gen 20:5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
Gen 20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
God protected Sarah, from whom the Messiah would come. If another had taken her, the promised seed of Abraham would be in doubt. Abimelech did this thing innocently, but God spoke to him in a very serious manner, " thou art a dead man." Talk about a nightmare! Who would not fear God with such a warning. Abimelech had been deceived by Abraham, who told the truth, she is his (half sister), but withheld that she was also his wife. God is just and would spare a repentant innocent king and his nation. God had already taken measures to protect Sarah, perhaps in making the men impotent.
God restrains sin.
2 Thes 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
Gen 20:7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
God can speak truth directly into peoples hearts, even in dreams. This is the first recorded dream in the Bible. Can we reject such truth? Even though Abraham is in sin, he is still a prophet and a man of prayer. God's mercy has not left Abraham, even though Abraham wasn't trusting God the way he should. It is reassuring to know that God does not abandon us when we fail, if we are truly saved.
Gen 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.
Gen 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.
Gen 20:10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?
This was as in Egypt 30 years before.
Gen 12:17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
Gen 12:18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
A heathen king is correcting Abraham, man of faith and the chosen man of God, and he was right to do so. We may think that because we are Christians that the world does not see our sins. They do see them, but they are not our judges, we must answer to God.
Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
We may be protected and loved, but what does our bad behavior do to the image of our LORD?
Rom 2:21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Rom 2:22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Rom 2:23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Rom 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Rom 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Gen 20:11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
The fear of God and faith in him was at this time lacking in Abraham. He was doing what was right in his own eyes. The flesh can be self righteous.
This old Adamic nature with which we are born, which is perverted and twisted so that it never operates as God intended it to, is totally depraved. That does not mean that it cannot do what appear to be nice things in the eyes of others and even of ourselves. There is something about the old self, the flesh, which is able to simulate righteousness. In the flesh's pursuit after pseudo-righteousness, even if it succeeds in an outward demonstration of a sweet and lovely nature, it has never achieved anything but self-righteousness. Self-righteousness always demands self-praise, a longing to be admired and to win the attention of others. (Stedman)
Gen 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
Gen 20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
Abraham repeats the early failed plan of his trying to protect himself.
"There is a terrible meaning in this verb wander which Abraham uses. The Hebrew word occurs exactly fifty times in Scripture and never in a good sense. It is used of animals going astray, of a drunken man reeling, or staggering, of sinful seduction, of a prophet's lies causing the people to err, of the path of a lying heart. Six other words are translated wander, any one of which Abraham might have used, but he used the worst word available." (Barnhouse)
Gen 20:14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.
Gen 20:15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.
Gen 20:16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.
Abimelech gives Abraham wealth to atone for his transgression.
Gen 20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
Gen 20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.
Abraham was still connected to God, for he prayed for Abimelech and all were healed. It is by God's grace, not man's righteousness. We are not to exalt man, but learn who we are in Christ. We do nothing apart from God, but with God we can do his will.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.