God Protects His Own Promises
(Genesis 19:30 – 21)
King Abimelech Restores Sarah to Her Husband Abraham
By Frans Geubels
Even patriarchs can slip up sometimes.
Do you recall our reading on January 5th? While living in Egypt, Abram worried for his own safety, so he told the Egyptians that his beautiful wife, Sarai, was his sister. In truth, Sarai was his half-sister.Abram and Sarai shared the same father, Terah (the son of Nahor). Still, Abram’s claim was deceitful.
Based on Abram’s claim, the Pharaoh took Sarai into his household, intending to make her part of his collection of women.
However, the Lord prevented Sarai from becoming dishonored in this strange circumstance. God protected Sarai, her purity and her dignity. (You can review this account in Genesis 12:11-20.)
In today’s reading, Abraham (previously Abram) behaved in like manner, some twenty years later. Fearing King Abimelech and the people of Gerar, Abraham again lied and introduced Sarah (previously Sarai) as his sister. Perhaps Abraham again feared potential harm from men more than he trusted God for protection.
Believing Sarah to be Abraham’s sister, King Abimelech sent for her, planning to add Sarah to his own household.
Amazingly, God appeared to King Abimelech in a dream to confront him with the truth about Abraham’s wife, Sarah.
“Then God said to him in the dream,
‘Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience,
and so I have kept you from sinning against Me.
That is why I did not let you touch her.
Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet,
and he will pray for you, and you will live.
But if you do not return her,
you may be sure that you and all yours will die.’”
How often do we act just as Abraham did, though perhaps in various situations? We make New Year’s resolutions. We create commitments, covenants and vows. And then we break them.
Often, our gracious God protects those around us from our errors, even as He guarded Sarah. God can work His purpose through our failures, as well as our honest efforts.
“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His purpose.”
The Lord may prevent unintentional sins.
What a remarkable story. Although King Abimelech made no pretense of believing or serving the Lord, God still spoke to him. And the Almighty prevented this unbelieving king from committing unknowing adultery with Sarah. Clearly, it suited God’s purpose to protect this individual from unintentional sin.
Why would God take such interest in this situation?
Abraham and Sarah still awaited the arrival of Isaac, their long-ago promised son. Five more years would pass before the child’s birth. Still, God revealed to them that their offspring would become a whole nation.
“I will surely bless you
and make your descendants as numerous
as the stars in the sky
and as the sand on the seashore.”
Unlike the family line of Abraham’s cousin Lot, which was furthered by deceit and even incest (see Genesis 21:1-7), Abraham’s offspring had to be conceived in fully legitimate manner. God protected the lineage of this patriarch, as His own Son would one day be begotten through his line.
Had Sarah been besmirched by either the Egyptian Pharaoh or King Abimelech, then the seed through which the Savior would come might have been spoiled as well.
God chose to build His holy nation through the family of Abraham, so that one day all of God’s children might belong to this patriarch’s clan, either by birth or by adoption.
God protects those who love Him.
Certainly, this was not one of Abraham’s shining moments. Placing his own wife’s purity and even safety in peril brought shame to this patriarch.
Yet God guarded Sarah, even when her own husband did not. Surely, Sarah prayed from the king’s palace, as she worried when she might be summoned to be with the king. God loved Sarah dearly. After all, He chose her to be the mother of the promised son, the first fruits of His holy nation.
What a wonderful encouragement this is to any of us. Consider wives of unbelieving or faithless husbands. How much comfort might women derive from knowing that God hears the prayers of those in distress. He knows the agonies of worry and rejection. He understands the sorrow and disappointment a wife may feel when her husband, who ought to be the priest of the home, makes poor and selfish choices.
And God steps in.
As today’s reading ends, Abraham and Sarah are indeed blessed with a son. Isaac brings joy and laughter to his parents, as they see the fulfillment of God’s 25-year promise.
"God has brought me laughter,
and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me."
Will you pray with me?
Most Holy God,
We confess that we have made commitments to You
And broken them.
We have made promises
And cast them aside.
Change our hearts.
Build us into Your holy people.
Thank You for Your guidance
And Your protection,
When we make unwise or even sinful choices
And when others make poor decisions
That affect us.
Hold us in Your loving hands,
Close to Your gracious heart.
We praise You.