Abraham moves to Gerar and claims that his wife is his sister. Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. God comes to Abimelech in a dream and tells him to return Sarah for she is a married woman, or he is as good as dead.
20:1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father's house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’”
14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
If you are new it’s good to have you. My name is Mark. I’m one of the pastor’s here at the church. And we are going right through the book of Genesis, and just sorted taking it in order. So, tonight we are in Genesis, Chapter 20. As you’re turning there, I’ve got just two quick announcements and two quick prayer requests.
One the announcements Easter is coming up and I think about in six weeks. We’re going to do two services. I know, James said this at the beginning but a lot of you weren’t here. So, we’ll repeat it. We’ll do two services on Good Friday, 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., the Friday before Easter. On Easter Sunday, what we’re having to do is add an additional service. We are growing. I used to say, “Again.” I’ll just say, “Still.” We, – a – probably have 3,800 people here today. A – Which means probably 4,000 people in the next few weeks. Which maybe, 6,000 people for Easter. And so, it’s wonderful. We’re totally grateful. The problem is where do, we put everyone on Easter. We’re going to be in real trouble. And, so, what we’re going to add is another service in addition to our 9:00 a.m., 11:15 a. m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:15 p.m., we’re adding one service at 7:30 a.m., for Easter only and the – a – the line is, “Jesus got up, you can too, so.” (Laughter)
So, you can do that. We’ll see all you holy people that love the Lord the most. We’ll see you at 7:30 a.m. Easter morning. So, we can free up a few seats for guest, and visitors and friends. I think especially the 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 5:00p.m. are gonna to get totally crushed. The 7:00 a.m. or the 7:15 p.m. has seats for you, and, a, if you have to go to one of the other services that’s okay, just know that you may get stuck in an overflow room because we can’t get everybody for those services in this room.
Two issues of prayer that you can be in prayer about; this last week we had about 145 leaders in, pastors that want to plant churches. We did an assessment, kind of like America Idol, with Simon, “You should. You shouldn’t, kinda that kind of week. So, they have gone home and maybe between 15 or 25 depending upon how things shake out, churches will be planted out of that. So, just be in prayer for them. And my first column comes out in the Seattle Times next Saturday. So, if you want you can take a look for that. We’ll see how that goes. [Applause] Don’t clap yet, you haven’t read it, so. We’ll see how that goes.
I’ll pray and we’ll launch right into Genesis, Chapter 20. We’ll look at the life of our dear Brother Abraham. And for those who are family and friends out for the baby dedication, good to have you, and congratulations for the wonderful gift that God has placed in your family. We rejoice with you in all sincerity, so.
“Father, God, as we study tonight we pray that you will help us to understand the Scriptures, that God that we would learn from the lives of Abraham and Sarah and the Abimelech, and that God, that we would learn something about you and something about us. And so God as we come to study I pray there will something here for each of us, something that is important, something that is from you, something that is helpful for our lives and helpful for our relationship with you. God please give us the wisdom to understand. Please give us the grace to receive your truth. So, that it might impact our lives in a very practical and meaningful way. We love you. We thank you for the Scriptures. And Holy Spirit we, thank you for writing the scriptures through your sermons. We ask that now you would come to us your servants and enlighten us so we might understand what it was you intended to communicate. And Jesus we ask that at the end of all things that you would be the hero of the story, the hero of our lives. And that we walk here with an important life to live, lessons having been learned so we could serve you more faithfully. We give our time to you. We give ourselves to you, Jesus. Amen.”
As we get into Genesis 20. What we have learned so far that the patriarchs in the Bible are not superheroes. How many of you thought that there were basically just like Superman, Batman and Robin. That’s like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And you’ve been woefully disappointed because, Adams sins against, God, kind of cusses out God. And then – Noah gets drunk, passes out naked in his tent, like a hillbilly, redneck, on vacation, troubling. Lot gets drunk with his teenage girls and then impregnates them. It doesn’t look good.
And when we come to Abraham, we’ve been dealing with Abraham now for a few weeks. We still have a little while to go in studying the life of Abraham. In studying the life of Abraham, he is one of the most important men in all of history, not just the Bible. Three religions trace their ancestry to Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims. He appears in our Bible more than 300 times. He is a man who is synonymous throughout the Bible with faith. Lot of people look at Abraham though and seem to have the impressions that he’s like Superman. He’s just a sinless guy who does no wrong and he’s a hero.
But what we’ve looked at is that he is a guy who is saved by grace and he’s just as sinful as we are. In fact Abraham is a wicked guy. This week what he’s going to do is pimp out his 90 year old wife. This is my Valentine’s Day Sermon, you’re welcome. (Laughter) Now if you remember, roughly 20 plus years prior to this occurrence in Genesis Chapter 20, back in Genesis 12, they went into Egypt and he was afraid that the Pharaoh would hurt him, so he told his wife to fake like she was his sister. And he pimped her out. And then God saved the day and brought her back. He’s going to do the same thing this week. At this point he’s about 100 and she’s about 90. They’ve been waiting almost 25 years for a promised son. God has said that in a year a baby’s going to come. We looked at all of that in Genesis. And just before he gets to see his wife get pregnant with his baby, he pimps her out. Very bizarre story and what it shows us is that we are all sinners saved by grace including Abraham. And he’s not a hero, in the way he’s a Superhero. He’s a hero in that he started just like a regular guy, like you, like me. He and his wife had their own issues and sins. But, God was good to them and God can be good to us, too.
So, we pick up the story in Genesis Chapter 20:1. “Now Abraham,” –“Here’s how it goes – moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. And for awhile he stayed Gerar.” This is Philistine country. Are the Philistine’s friends of God’s People? No, this would be like you if you were a Christian, saying, “I’m going to go live in Turkey or Iran.” They don’t like you, right. Keep your head down. Don’t put a fish on the back of your car. (Laughter) You know, this is hostile territory. So, he’s going into this place that could be very dangerous for he and for his lovely wife. And there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Okay, he’s already done this once in Egypt. Now he’s going to do it in the land of the Philistines. And here’s what he’s thinking, “They might hurt me. And I would hate to get hurt. So, I will fake that my sis – that my wife, my lovely wife is my sister.” Now at this point how old is Sarah, 90. And she is hot, in the Hebrew, very hot. She’s hot at 90. And I know a lot of you ladies, you’re like, “Man, I wish the Bible had more information; like how do, you stay hot at 90. Where’s, where’s the verses. What did she do?” (Laughter) Doesn’t say, doesn’t tell us, right.
There are always certain things that men wish were in the Bible, women wish. This one we just don’t know. At 90 though she was so hot, that Abraham was thinking, “Oh, my goodness, people are gonna want to take my hot 90 year old wife.” Not a lot of guys could say that. (Laughter) So he’s saying, “You fake like you’re my sister, ‘cause otherwise, they’re going to kill me and take you.” “Then Abimelech, King of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.” Now Abimelech is a family name. Just like Herod in the New Testament is a family name for a King in the days of Jesus.
And you’re going to see a little later in Genesis, there’s another Abimelech. It’s not the same guy. It’s a family name. It’s a family name. And so he sends for Sarah, and he takes her into his harem. Now she must have been all together lovely. I can’t think of a lot of Kings who they get to pick their harem, of any women on the planet earth, got for 90 year olds, right. But, this – here’s what the equivalent is, Father Abraham, Mother Sarah, all of a sudden she is getting set off kind of like, one of the gals in the hip, hop video, she’s just sort of the posse running around with the rapper.
That’s kind of how I see it. It’s like what’s Nana doing in the 50 Cent video. (Laughter) You know, what’s happened. What’s Granny doin’ there? Well, she’s shakin her thing for the King. That’s kinda, what’s going on? That’s kinda of what, this is a little, profoundly disturbing. Okay, these aren’t Superheroes. This is a cowardly old man handing off his wife to be part of the hip hop posses, one of the girls in the crew. So, now you know at this point Abraham, has not done a great job. But, you ladies say, “My husband’s a jerk he’s not a good man.” Well, look he’s pretty good, really. All of a sudden we look pretty good, don’t we, guys. That’s why we love Abraham. It’s like, “So, hey, I didn’t get you candy. At least I didn’t sell, yeah.” You know. (Laughter)
And so God’s, gonna get involved here, God’s, gonna intervene and interject himself, like, “Wait, a minute, that’s your wife. You guys have been together a lot of years. I told you, you were going to have a son. Don’t give away your wife just yet; we’re going to need her. She is part of the divine plan, where Jesus comes. So, but God came to Abimelech, in a dream one night. Okay, Abimelech, we’re gonna to see, he’s a moral guy, nice guy, decent fellow. But not a believer, not a Christian to use our vernacular, he doesn’t believe in God.
And here’s what happens, God comes to him in a dream. Let me say this about God. God is a super natural, God. God is a miraculous God. God can do anything. God can do anything. Abimelech was a King. Do you think it would be easy to get to the King for a meeting? It’s not. “You can’t get to the King. Nobody can get to the King. “Well, oh, my, gosh, he took Mother Sarah. He’s going to defile her. Oh, my gosh, you know, the promise of the Israel nation and the Jews and then the coming of Jesus, the whole divine plan for the cosmos is gonna to come to a screeching halt. Somebody’s got to go to Abimelech. Somebody’s got to talk to him. We can’t get to Abimelech. Oh, no how is gonna to work?” Well God can get to Abimelech. He doesn’t need to schedule an appointment, get a flight, go through the metal detector, take his shoes off. He has none of those limitations that we do. He can just show up miraculously in a dream to Abimelech.
And let me say this, people always ask, “What happens to all those people who never heard about Jesus? The missionary didn’t get there. They died in some village.” Look there’s a lot of people who have not heard about Jesus. But my question is always, “How do we know they haven’t heard about Jesus?” Just ‘cause we haven’t been there doesn’t mean we haven’t been there. Just, mean, just ‘cause we didn’t get to them doesn’t mean he can’t get to them. God can work through a dream. God can work through an angel. God can work through any number of things. He can just show up. He can work anyway he wants. He’s not limited by anything. Okay, myself I’ve had prophetic dreams come true. I don’t talk about them a lot. But, I do get prophetic dreams. God reveals the future and certain things to me, and decision making with the church and family. Praise God for that.
Some of you have had dreams that God has given you. Does every dream come from God? No. Sometimes it’s the Mexican food. Sometimes it was the wings. Sometimes it shouldn’t, you know, been, you know, drinkin’. Every dream doesn’t come from God but God can use dreams in a miraculous way. Give an example; today, in closed Muslims countries I think I told you this before. There are reports of a lot of Muslims becoming Christians ‘cause they go to bed and have a dream and die and stand before Jesus at the end of their life and give an account. They realize, “Oh, Jesus, is God I’ve been on the wrong team.” So, God can work. He does work through miraculous supernatural means including dreams. He can do that. Some of you have experienced this in your own life.
So, he comes to King of Abimelech in a dream. And here’s, here’s what he says. “You’re as good as dead.” Well, that’ll get, yeah. Well that’ll get you there, right? And here’s my thing. I see it like Tony Soprano. That’s how I see it. I see a big Italian guy with sort of disheveled hair, sweat suit, spaghetti stain, on the front of his white T shirt, a big chain, a little fur coming out of his chest, and, a gun in the waist band of his sweats, saying it like this, “You’re as good as dead.” [Imitating Tony Soprano] (Laughter) I see it like that. That’s how I see it. When I read, when I read it that‘s what I hear. “You’re a dead man. You’re gonna get wacked.” [Imitating Tony Soprano] That’s how I hear, okay, that’s how I see it God shows up and tells Abimelech, “You’re gonna get wacked.” Like if you’re a guy sleepin’ and this the first time god has showed up and that’s his introduction, no, “Hey How you’re doin?” You lost weight?” No chit chat, just “You’re dead.” Well, well that will get you right there, you know, note to self, “God, showed and said I’, dead. This seems important so, you’re as good as dead because the woman you’ve taken she’s a married woman.
Now does God care about marriage? Totally he does. God cares a lot about marriage. My wife and I were talking about this week. “Honey, I think they were kind of like divorced.” She said, “they weren’t divorced they were still married. He just gave her away.” I said, “Well, that kind of counts, though like divorce.” We’re dialogin this, count as a divorce, not count as a divorce. I don’t know. The key is that God had made them one flesh. They had been together a really long time. They don’t have any grounds for divorce. You know it’s all, “We had to get divorced. He was scared.” Well, she’s got to give me more than that, like a, like if he was a terrorist, we’ll talk about it, you know. He’s going to kill the family we’ll talk about it. Maybe there’s Biblical grounds for divorce. I believe there are some extreme cases where divorce is acceptable in God’s sight. But, just cause your husband’s a coward, that’s not very good, right. Like, “He was shaking he was very scared.” Well, you can’t, pimp out your wife; I mean you’ve got to give me more than that.
And so God is trying to preserve this marriage. And here’s what God’s trying to do. God’s trying to straighten out their marriage before their kid comes. In less, than a year their kid’s going to come. All you guys who want to get married. A lot of you married, I want to have kids. We’re all for it. Praise God. Make sure your marriage is solid before your kid shows up. See God’s going to be gracious here and straighten up some real marital issues before the kid shows up, which is good. Otherwise it’s like you know, Johnny get’s up every day and mom cooks him breakfast, and all of sudden Johnny’s like, “Hey, dad where’s mom. How come she’s not cookin breakfast?” Oh, I sold her to a strip club in Vegas, you’re going to have to learn to cook eggs for yourself.” “Really, well that’s troubling. That was my mother.” (Laughter) I mean, this would disturb you.
So, God’s trying to straighten out this family before the kid comes. For those of you that are married that don’t have kids. Make sure things are in order before he kid comes. Otherwise the poor kids going to come into your dysfunctional family system. Here’s what he say’s though, Abimelech, verse 4, “Had not gone near her.” He had not touched her yet. Okay, so, at this point God’s jumped in, before everything is messed up. Before the wife is defiled, she’s been intimate with another man, all kind of mess. So, he said, “Lord,” good way to start. “Will you destroy an innocent nation?” Okay, he’s not a believer, but here he is appealing to the justice, of God. “You’re a good God. You’re a just God. Are you going to kill me and all my people? We’re innocent. We didn’t do anything. We’re victims.
Now of course, he’s scared because what did god just do to the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah? Smoked ‘em, and if that God showed up at your hours (Knocking on the Door) “Who is it, the God who smoked Sodom and Gomorrah.” You’re as good as dead. Oh, gosh. (Laughter) Oh, no. Oh, man. Oh, boy this is going to be one of those days, right. Oh, my golly that God’s here. “Will you destroy the innocent nation?” That’s what he’s wondering. He’s saying, “God, I know those guys in Sodom and Gomorrah, “You had every right to get them. But I didn’t treat you like they treated you. I mean I didn’t try and harm your angels, wasn’t perverted. We didn’t do anything. Yeah, I took her into my harem, but I didn’t know she was married.” That’s what he’s going to argue. Did he not say to me? He blames it on Abraham. He’s like, “Hey, if you’re going to kill somebody, get that Christian guy.” Get that believer, that deacon, over there. Smoke him. It’s his fault. He said to me, “She’s my sister.” Is that true? That’s true. That’s true. And did we say, “Poor Sarah. Look at that husband she’s got what a jerk. What a failure. What an awful husband. Well, not really. Didn’t she also say, “He’s my brother, isn’t that curious.
The husband, sins and the wife sins with him. Isn’t that interesting how that often times works in marriage? One person sins and rather than the other person standing over here with God saying, “No, that’s wrong. Often times we sin with our spouse for the sake of unity in the marriage. And when we are stuck between God and our spouse, so often times, we turn our back on the Lord and side with our spouse.
Sarah did it. She’s not a total victim here. She was attractive. Apparently one of Abimelech’s men looks at Abraham and says, “Who’s that?” He says, “Oh, that’s my sister.” Really, well we would like to bring her to the King, make her part of the harem. “Are you sure that’s your brother?” “Oh, yes that’s my brother. I would be happy to go with you. Come on let’s go meet the King.” She’s not a total victim. They’re in on this con together, both sinning very, very greatly, deep problem, real problem. The thing that is holding this marriage together is a lie. Its sin, it’s not good.
“I have done this, he says, “with a clear conscious and clean hand.” What he’s saying is this. “I didn’t know. They lied to me. I didn’t know.” That’s true. Now if you just read this would you think that Abimelech or Abraham and Sarah were the believers? You’d think Abimelech was the believer because Abraham and Sarah they look terrible, don’t they? I mean they look really bad. And here’s the key, sometimes unbelievers are more moral then unbelievers. How many of you have learned this? You said, “Oh, I’m a Christian now, I’m going to get a Christian dentist, and Christian carpenter, and a Christian electrician, and a Christian plumber, and a Christian banker and they all rip me off. I need one of those honest non Christians. I am sick of people with a fish on their business card. Fish must be code word for we rip you off in Jesus’ name. Amen.” It’s okay, because we tied two percent off of all the money we steal, “right.
Right, how many of you have found just because somebody’s a Christian doesn’t mean their moral. How many of you are Christians and you’re not moral, right. You’re like – rhetorical question. Not you guys. I’m saying these other people in these other churches where they have all these hypocrites. (Laughter) Pray for them, they have so many problems, and their marriages too, just terrible marriages, and hypocritical people. Boy, good thing we got rid of them.
Where were we at? He says, “You know what, they’re the wicked guy. I’m the good guy. You can’t judge me. Judge them. This is true. Now here’s where we find out that we are saved by grace, not by works that we are saved by God’s goodness, now our goodness. If it was just based on morality Abraham and Sarah are going to hell. And Abimelech’s going to heaven. But, it’s not that way. It’s not good guys that go to heaven. It’s people God has forgiven their sin. So, the story goes on. Crazy story, isn’t it, troubling, deeply profoundly troubling. Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscious and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That’s why I did not let you touch her.” Now here’s what Abimelech, say, “I didn’t touch her.” God say’s, “I know, because I didn’t let you.” What he’s saying is, “You wanted to, but I gave her a headache.” Huh, you know. (Laughter) “I’m the God of the headache, so.”
And now what happens is this, some people, think, “I’m really good moral person.” I haven’t done anything wrong.” Perhaps, perhaps a lot of the things you haven’t done wrong are not because you didn’t want too, but because God spared you. God didn’t allow you too. You know, this is my story. I look at it; I was before I was a Christian. I was a guy like Abimelech. Most likely to succeed, Student Body President, Man of the Year, four year Letterman, was that guy. Tolo King, Homecoming King, head if the newspaper, captain of the baseball team, that guy. Very nice guy, that’s what I thought. I didn’t cuss out anyone who didn’t deserve it, didn’t hit anyone who didn’t have it comin. That was me. I was a really good guy. (Laughter)
And then I met Grace and she realized I was a very moral person, but I didn’t know God. Very moral but didn’t know God. And that confused her for a little bit because she thought people who knew God were moral. And people, who didn’t know God, were immoral. She and I were talking about this today. ‘Cause what we tend to do if were Christians is, put the black hat on the people who aren’t Christians and put the white hat on us. But here, Abraham’s got a black hat. He’s supposed to be a believer but he’s acting like an immoral guy. All that to say, be very careful not thinking that you are better than a non Christian, they in fact maybe morally superior to you, that we don’t have the moral high ground in all things. That sometimes God’s people are hypocritical and statistically I could show when it comes to divorce, sexual addiction, alcohol, drugs, whatever, people who claim to be Christians, people who claim to be non Christians, morally, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between them.
So the Church is filled with sinners and hypocrites and the world is filled with decent people who are pretty nice neighbors and pretty nice bosses, pretty good friends and pretty good employees, and they are nice people. The question comes is how doesn’t a guy like Abimelech, work? Well he tells us right here, “A clear conscious.” Abimelech tells us that he’s working off his conscious. See back in Genesis, “we’re all made in the likeness and image of God.” One thing that we have by virtue of being an image maker of God is a conscious. This is like a moral rudder it helps us no right and wrong. Doesn’t mean we’re saved, that we go to heaven automatically. But, if – we don’t break our conscious, we use it rightly; it can get us through trouble. We can have a decent marriage. We can raise some good kids. We can have a good company. We can pay our bills. We can be nice neighbors. People can like us. We could help serve the city, we’re in. Our conscious can get us through some hard times in life.
Some of you aren’t Christians but your conscious has gotten you through some major decisions in life. I was not a Christians until I was 19 and I was basically just living off my conscious. Not out of love for God, relationship with God, but conscious, trying to be a moral person, a decent person. Guys like Abimelech, they’re good neighbors. They’re good bosses. They’re good employees. They’re decent friends.
How many people know someone in their life that the Gospel doesn’t make any sense to them, cause they say, “Look, I’m a good person.” You say, “Actually, you are a pretty nice person. You’re a nicer person than me. You’re a better person than me. The Gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ, the essence of the Christian faith is not that God is trying to make us into really moral people, but he is trying to connect us to him, to change our like through relationship with him. And so the most important thing is to be connected to God, not just try to be a moral person. Conscious is good but it’s insufficient for relationship with God. And what God say’s is this, “You think you didn’t touch her ‘cause you didn’t touch her? You didn’t touch her ‘cause I didn’t let you touch her.” This shows the providential hand of God over our lives.
Some of you know there are things in your hear that you wanted to do but God spared you, saved from yourself, kept you from doing certain things, why? Because he loves you and he was involved. You can’t say, “God, I didn’t do it.” God’s, like, “You would have. Had I not stepped in? But, I saved you, right. So, recognize my involvement in your life even if you are not a Christian.” So, here’s what he says, “Now – gives an order – return the man’s wife – you haven’t done anything wrong yet – But do anything wrong.” And this, the goodness of God, he will talk to us about our sin. And then he will give us a way of escape. Paul says, “He always gives us a way of escape.”
Okay, “You’re right; you got lied to and set up. You brought her in; you didn’t know she was married. She is married. Marriage matters to me. So let her go. You have a choice now, either to do the right thing or the wrong thing. So, what are you going to do? Now if you do the wrong thing, here’s the problem, he’s a Prophet.” It’s the first time in the Bible that anyone’s called a Prophet. Father Abraham was called a Prophet. He’s called a Prophet. A Prophet is a servant of God, and a spokesman for God, and a mouthpiece for God, has a special relationship with God. First time in the Bible we’ve covered 2,000 years of history, from Creation to Abraham. This is the first time someone is called a Prophet. He says, “Don’t mess with my Prophet. And he will pray for you and you will live.” Abraham is going to pray for him. And will pick that up in a minute.
But it’s curious; do you think Abimelech is a little confused? “So, the guy who lied to me and pimped out his wife… He’s the servant of God and things will be okay because of his prayer life?” That’s exactly what God is saying. That’s exactly what God is saying. “But, you don’t have to return her, but if you do not return her, you can be sure that you and everyone is gonna die.” Don’t you love how God gives you options? (Laughter)
God’s like, “choice is up to you, it can go well, or you can all get killed, Plan A, Plan B. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? What do you think?”
And see it’s the same decisions that God gives us today. Repent of your sin, trust to me or you’re dead, right. It’s the same decision. You’re like, “Oh.” It seems fairly clear. Yeah, he’s good like that. Keeps it real simple not confusing? So, then we got to look and see what’s going to happen, early the next morning when, early he had the dream at night. He gets up in the morning, “Oh, boy I’d better get on that, right today.” (Laughter) Cancel all my appointments. God, said, “I’m a dead man.” I got things to do.
Now we saw with Lot, who supposedly the righteous man. He drug his feet. He was slow to leave Sodom and Gomorrah. Angles had to drag him out of town. Not Abimelech. He actually, he responds pretty quickly. “Oh, I’m gonna die, we’re gonna fix that.” “Early the next morning Abimelech, summoned all of the officials and when he told them all what had happened, they were very much afraid.” Now the fear here let me explain, this kind of fear to you. There’s two kinds of fear regarding God, in the Bible. One is the fear of believer and one is the fear of the unbeliever. The fear of the believer is someone who, honors, and loves, and respects and reveres God, like a Father. The fear of the unbeliever is someone who is terrified of God, like a child is of a stranger. See the difference? Christian’s fear God, reverentially, like a Dad, non Christians fear, God, like in a terrified way, as a child does a stranger.
These guys here don’t know God they’re not believers. They’re not Christians, whatever word you want to use, and their scared of God, in a terrified way, because they don’t know God. I’ll give you an example. My cousin died a few weeks ago, lived in the Seattle area. She did know the Lord. God has actually done an extraordinary thing in my family. Huge numbers of people in my family in the last years have become Christians. My extended family is filled with amazing conversion stories. God has done, really, quite a remarkable thing. I was part of that that work of God in my family. And she did come to know the Lord later in life. She was married and had two kids and she died unexpectedly and suddenly. So, I went to her funeral a few weeks ago, in the south end of the Puget Sound area.And it was interesting, at the funeral, even dealing with my extended family. Those who knew God and those who didn’t know God both face death and God in very different ways. Those who knew God said, “Man, we miss her. We love her. We’re sad to here, that she, to know now that she won’t be able to be here to raise her children. But, we love God. We know that God is a just God. We know the wage for sin is death. We know that she is with the Lord now. That will see her, one day. You know, death is a frightening thing but we trust the Lord.”
Those who didn’t know God had a completely different reaction. It was very curious. They were terrified, literally. You could see it on their face, scared. I had a few relatives say things like, “I hope when I die, the Big Guy is not angry with me, the Big Guy.” That’s not real, intimate language, right. My kids never call me, that, “Hi, Big Guy.”Well, I’m dad,” – right, like we have a little more intimacy the, “Big Guy.” They don’t know god and they’re scared of God in a very terrifying way, very afraid of God, unnecessarily.
Paul says, in the New Testament, “The people who know God grieve, but they grieve differently, then people who don’t know God.” There’s a difference there. It’s interesting because the view my relatives had that didn’t know God was; heaven is a nice place and God is like a drunk border patrol agent. That’s kind of the impression I got. Like man, “I hope, when I die when I’m looking into heaven he’s napping so I can make a run for it and get into heaven.” That was kind of their perspective. It’s like, no God, is not a drunk border patrol agent. And when you die you don’t get to wait for him to take a nap so you can sneak into heaven. It doesn’t quite work like that. But, seriously that’s what they thought. They seemed to think that I’m really scared of God and I’ll run into heaven before he catches me. That is an unbelieving fear of God. That’s someone who doesn’t know God. Doesn’t understand God, is really scared of God, is running from God, just hoping that God isn’t angry with them, in the end.
These guys are very much afraid of God. As if a child was meeting a dangerous stranger. “Then Abimelech called, “Abraham in,” – Here’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to light Abraham up. He’s going to go full on fundamentalist, “You need to repent, you wicked sinner.” Abimelech’s gonna preach at the Prophet. This is, this is comic genius, that’s what this is. Here is the unbeliever preaching at the Prophet, on his sickness, how immoral and disgusting he is.
“Then Abimelech called Abraham and said, “What have you done to us?” He does this in front of his leaders, his men his people. I’m sure Sarah’s present, right. There is a big crowd of people. “What have you done?” Abraham’s like, “I’m a Christian”, you know like – (Laughter) Sorry, I’m” – “How have I wronged you that you’ve brought such great guilt upon me and my Kingdom.” He’s like, “what did I ever do to you?” “You pulled into town and we were nice to you. We helped you out. We asked you and her. You both said, “You we’re not married.” What have you – why did you do this to me? You’ve have done things to me that should not have been done. You’re a sinner. You’re wicked. This is terrible. I can’t believe you did this?”
How many of you had this conversation with unbelieving family member or friend or neighbor? And they start just ripping your morality. Like maybe, “You’re such a hypocrite, you’re such a jerk, you know, you should have never done that. You should have never said that. You’re goin, “Oh, man.” Ah, here’s where you have to be careful Mars Hill. Don’t think that just because an unbeliever is rippin yeah, that you have the right, to walk away and not listen. Not only did God speak to Abimelech, the unbeliever, but now he is speaking through Abimelech the unbeliever. Say why would God let the unbeliever, rebuke the Prophet, to humble the Prophet, and teach him a lesson?
How many of you have had this where your boss, your parents, your family members, friends they point out real sickness, sin in your life. And you say, “Ah, you can’t talk to me. You know, I’m a Christian man. I read the Bible. I go to church. You’re going to fry in hell. You got George Foreman Grill, ever throw bacon in it. That’s what’s comin’ down for you, baby.” (Laughter) “Don’t tell me what to do. I got the Ghost. I don’t need you” You know – and we kind of get this little pretension – you know – like we’re the good guys and you’re the bad guys. “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m hooked up to Jesus. I got a fish on my car. I sing and worship in my car. Yeah, sometimes I hit the horn and give the finger, but, you know what God’s, workin on me.” You know. You know, and we kinda, – It’s so easy for Christians, to just say, “Well, we don’t listen to them. They’re not Christians, forget about them.
The question is not, is it a believer or unbeliever, but what is being said about you, true or untrue. That’s really the issue. You can’t just go, “You’re not a Christian. I don’t listen to non Christians. You say, “You know what, sometimes God speaks through unbelievers.” Let me listen. It doesn’t mean I listen to everyday. It doesn’t mean I take every criticism that comes but, God could speak to us through people who don’t know him, to point out sin in our life, and to humble us. Because at this point Abraham is losing a lot, he lost his wife, that’s the possibility of losing his son. He’s lost his witness and his reputation. See at this point he should have pulled into town as an Evangelist, thinkin, “I got to lead people to God. I got to start churches. I got to love people. I’m so to be a blessing to the nations of the earth. Honey, we have to be real careful how we conduct ourselves,” none of that.
You think he’s lost the moral high ground here, totally, totally lost the moral high ground. We need to be so careful that we don’t find cultural and moral wars. I’m not saying as believers that we shouldn’t address sin. But before we address it in others we have to address it in ourselves. So, that we’re not hypocrites. I’ll give you an example. Before we started this church, I met with a Pastor, he’s pretty well known. I won’t give you his name. But, he prayed for me. He was like, “God, take this young man and protect him from the devil and all the wickedness in Seattle, it’s like Babylon and all the perverts, and the homos and the abortion doctors and the weirdos, the chain smokers the tattoo artists and God, please protect him from all the sickos, and the weirdos and keep him safe in the heart of darkness. Amen.” Then a little while later he got fired for being a pedophile. It’s like, well dude; you kind of lost the moral high ground, there.
You know, you can’t really, do what Jesus called plank/speck, where’s its like, “Hey you have a tooth pick in your eye.” And there like, yeah, “You have a telephone pole.” (Laughter) so, maybe you should deal with that first, hypothetically. You know, it’s, it’s that kind of witness that kills us. A lot of people say, “I don’t want to be a Christian, they’re no better than I am. They’re all hypocrites, often true, beginning with the example of Father Abraham. What you and I don’t need to do is defend everything that Christians have ever done. We need to defend the honor of God and upon occasions Christians do things that are contrary to the character of God and the Scriptures. And at that point we need to just do like Abimelech, said, and say, “That was sin, shouldn’t have been done, agreed, agreed.”
I don’t feel compelled to defend everything in the history of Christianity. I don’t. People are like, “what about this? What about this?” Yeah, it’s against the Bible. It’s wrong. What about you?
And Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is your reason for doing this? Why, you’re 100, she’s 90? We didn’t do anything. Why would you pimp out your wife?” How come? Good question. Abraham replied, “I said, to myself, you know, she wasn’t praying this through.” “Well, you know, I was doing a word study, in the Hebrew Old Testament. “You know, it wasn’t I prayed. It wasn’t I brought together all my believing friends and sought counselors. I thought, to myself, you know, “I’m the smartest guy I know. I was thinking about it, and here’s what I came up with, – and don’t you love this – I thought there is surely know fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my life.” What I thought was, “You guys are all sicko’s and weirdo’s and perverts, so I pimped out my wife.” (Laughter) Really, well that’s curious. That’s curious. Here’s what he did though. He pulled into town, thinkin, “I’m going to get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. I’ll protect myself. My wife can lean over the plate and take one for our team.” There we go. There’s a good Biblical answer.
You know what though, was he wrong in his judgment of the land of the Philistines? Did he completely misjudge these people? They pull in and go, “Oh, they are nasty, nasty, people. These people are just really vile. They are all dirty, and violent and evil. Man, there sick. I need to protect myself from them. I’ll sin against them preemptively. But that’s okay because they were going to sin against me so I will sin against them first, to protect myself against their sin.” That’s his reasoning.
Do you think a lot of Seattle feels about Christianity the way that Abimelech feels about Father Abraham? You show up. You don’t know us. You don’t get to know us. You judge us. You say terrible things about us. You sin against us. And then you defend yourself because, you think it was our problem, because we were potentially going to hurt you. We need to be very careful friends. We need to be very careful with how we conduct ourselves, because Seattle is a lot like the land of the Philistines. The land of the Philistines didn’t have a lot of churches. Bible, it was not a Christian place. Seattle is among the least church cities in the United States of America.
When you leave here, you go here from this place as a missionary into the cultural as a representative of Jesus and Mars Hill. And so when you get there, with a lot of people in the city, you may be the only Christian in the city that they work with, or live next too, or know. So, how you act is really important. You can’t just look at people and judge them. We have to be so careful not to do this. This still happens in this church. It happens in every church. Jesus, said, “The people judge outward and he judges the heart.” We need to get to know people well enough to get to look at their heart.
Where I still get it, when people come to Mars Hill, they’re like, “Well, I really like the church, but I notice before hand a lot of people were out smoking.” Yeah, that’s Luke’s band. That’s Luke’s band, right. I’ve had people walk in and say, “Boy, it’s really nice that those kind of people are comin to church because they sure need the Lord.” Well, their – those people are deacons, you know. Just because they have tattoos and smoke and play guitar and are cool and Vespa scooters, that doesn’t mean they’re not filled with the Ghost. They probably are. Right, that people look at the outward and they judge. And that’s what Abraham’s doing here. He’s pulling in say, “Well, look at them all. Just look at them. Look how messed up they are. They’re not like us, sweetheart, are they?”
And I mean, who’s really messed up?
But, I believe the vast majority of Seattle, is a lot like Abimelech. Nice people, decent neighbors, working off their conscious, don’t know God. And maybe they could be decent friends, decent co-workers, decent neighbors. And maybe if we don’t judge them unnecessarily, if we don’t jump in and automatically do good cop bad cop. You’re the wicked guys. We’re the good guys. We’re going to protect ourselves from the bad guys. If we walk in and love people and get to know them. We might actually find out that there’s a lot of people in Seattle like, Abimelech, just decent, hard workin, nice folk. Honestly that’s what we’re finding in the middle of the city.
When we get to this size church everybody’s like, “Load the gun, go get ‘em, go get ‘em, go get ‘em.” Go get who? “Go get those people. Go yell at them.” Go – well you know – maybe if we loved our neighbors like Jesus said, and we didn’t declare war on people we don’t even know yet. And we got to know them. And realize that they are actually pretty nice people. Maybe we could talk to them about Jesus. And maybe they would get saved.
Abraham totally missed that. He didn’t walk into town, think, “There’s a bunch of people here. “I’m supposed to be a blessing to the nations of the earth.” That’s what is says in Genesis 12 and 15. That’s what God said. I’m in another nation. How can I bless it? I can I love these people, serve these people, understand these people. How can I share God’s love with these people? How can I be the kind of guy that when they show up they say, “Really you worship that God, well really tell me about him. If he’s anything like you, I’m intrigued.” He doesn’t think that way. He’s not thinking like a missionary. He’s not thinking like an evangelist. He’s thinking like a moralist, which is a far cry from a relationship with God.
He judged all these people. But how many of us do the same thing. There are certain cities, certain states, certain races, certain generations, certain styles, certain tribes. You go, “Look how messed up they are. They’re nothing like us.” They say, “Look at you. You are worse than me.” Yeah, that’s true, that’s true. There is a humility that needs to come in the understanding of our faith. We’re not saved because we’re good. We’re saved because God is good. That should keep us from pride and push us to humility. Not to separate ourselves from our neighbor as superior, but, to come alongside of our neighbor as understanding and empathetic.
Abraham’s going to learn a real hard lesson here. Besides, now he gives some weasely excuse. How many of you do this. You get caught in sin and you’re like, “Well, I’ve got a reason, bla, bla, bla. My kids do this all the time. “Why’d you whack him in the head with a sword?” Well, he called me a fart. (Laughter) “So, you almost killed him?” ”Yeah, but you know. He shouldn’t have done that.” Well, yeah but you can’t kill ‘em. You can’t kill ‘em for that. That’s not a capital offense.” Nobody get’s the electric chair, for that. That’s too, a server a response.” “Yeah, but they said it and laughed.” We’re like little kids. We get angry. We do something we get caught in our sin. And rather than just saying, “I’m wicked, sorry.” We give our excuse.
How many of you, your excuse is usually worse than just your plain old sin? You start going, and you’re half way, you’re like, “you know, I should have never started down this line of reasoning. But I’m half way in it. I’m going to keep going just for posterity sake.” You’re like gosh, “This is just going bad. This is just going so bad. Well officer I was just drinking and driving because the alien told me too. (Laughter)
You know – you’re like, “man, I shouldn’t have said that.” I know – “I’m gonna go with it though, what the heck. I’m half way in.” Besides he says, “She really is my sister.”
Okay, if that’s true, does that make it better? (Laughter) Right – Like if my wife was my sister. And I said, “That’s my sister.” And you said, “That’s not your sister. That’s your wife.” “Oh, not it really is. This is my little sister.” You’d be like, “Dude, that doesn’t fix anything.” (Laughter) “You’re still sick. You’re nasty. There’s something wrong.” Right – that was so nice you didn’t have to change your last name. (Laughter) there’s something twisted about that.
So, I don’t – you know, if it is true, this isn’t a helpful excuse. This is like Adam. “The daughter of my father, daughter though not of my mother, and she became my wife.” This is like the legal stuff that comes at the end of a commercial in fine print, just rolling along. Whatever, dude, like you pimped her out. That’s the point. If it’s your sister, your mother, you sell her to a strip club, that’s wrong. We don’t need all the details. “And what God had me wonder.” He kind of blames it on God. “From my father’s house, I said to her, “This is how you can show your love to me.” Oh, well isn’t that the point, Happy Valentine’s Day. Well, “Sweetheart, if you really do love me, let me sell you to the brothel.
But see this is what happens when a guys in marriage and all he’s thinking of, “What are so more ways my wife could demonstrate her love for me?” And he’s not thinkin, “How can I love my wife?” Abraham is totally upside down in his marriage. “Everywhere we go, save me he’s my brother. Just tell everybody, “He’s my brother.” She goes along with the plan. Here’s how it goes. “Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, he returned his wife Sarah to him. And he said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” What? Here’s a bunch of money, servants, house, car – how many of you goin, “I’ve got to sin more.” Get a car?
That’s not the point of the story Mars Hill. Again, do you see here that Abimelech is really a decent fellow, a nice guy, a moral guy? Don’t you think it should have been Abraham and Sarah bringing gifts? “I’ve hear God’s was going to call. We’re so sorry. Sarah made cookies. Do you like cookies? Sarah made cookies. And a card and we made it ourselves. And we’re so sorry about you and your whole nation almost getting destroyed, our bad.” (Laughter) You would think that Abraham and Sarah would show up, “Hey, thanks for giving my wife back.” There are no gifts from Abraham and Sarah, to Abimelech. Abimelech is acting like the nice guy.
Now here’s the deal; just because someone isn’t a Christian doesn’t mean they can’t be nice. And doesn’t mean they can’t bless you. And doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful. At Mars Hill, here’s what we have found. The city has been really good to us, which is shocking because of what we believe. Okay, we go through the Bible we don’t avoid anything hard. But, you know what we found. If you don’t judge people and declare war on them often times they’re really nice. I mean it’s shocking.When we went to get this building; non Christian architects, loan, people working for banks, zoning people, they helped us. They said, “We really like you guys. We like your church. How can we be of help?” “Really thanks.” We’re looking for another building a block away, for our growth, same thing non Christians coming in. Willing to help us with environmental studies and clean up. There is a panel locally of business leaders that are looking to give us a $25, 000.00 grant to help with environmental clean up as a gift. “Cause the love you guys, great. Business’s in the area stay up a little be later, ‘cause they want to accommodate our business. We’ve had a lot of business owners, who aren’t Christian, say, “We really love your church. You’re bringing a lot of people into the area. What can we do to serve you? How can we better take care of you? People what are their needs.” All the way to the development of housing, “How can we provide housing for your people?” Pastor Jamie is up to be the President of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce next year.
You know, it’s wonderful. Just because somebody is not a Christian doesn’t mean you got to walk in with a gun and say, “You’re wicked and evil not like me, boom, boom, boom.” They’re like, “What you mean, not – you’re worse than me being mean. You don’t even know me. You judge me, declaring war on me. I’m actually not a bad person. I may not know God, like you know God. And maybe I’m not going to heaven, like you’re going to heaven. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice to me. “
Abimelech comes off as a really nice guy, doesn’t he? How many of you, if somebody did this to you – if God showed up at your house, “You’re dead.” You wouldn’t go, “Well, okay, I got to give him a car, a house, a lot of forgiveness a piece of land. I want him to live near me. Welcome him into our town. I’m gonna be their friend. Be really nice to them.” I mean he’s really going over the top. To Sarah he said, “I’m giving you’re – what’s he say? Isn’t that cute, don’t you love that? “I’m giving you a brother,” –wink, wink, wink, wink, right. It’s a little jab. Abimelech has a little sense of humor about him. “Oh, your brother, I’ll give your brother a little somethin too. “I’m giving you brother a 1,000 shekels of silver.” That’s about 25 pounds, that’s a 167 years of wages for a common laborer in that day. That’s a few million bucks. House a car and servants and a few million bucks, for sinning, by a guy who forgives you and still wants to be your friend.
He’s not a believer, but his conscious is working. If you’re nice to him he could be of help to you. “This is to cover the offense against you, before all who are with you; you are completed vindicated.” He’s vindicating Sarah. “Sarah, I know your husband concocted a lie, pimped you out, you went for it. You joined my harem. Now everybody’s going to see you. And they’re going to think you are some kind of perverted disgusting woman. Nobody knows the truth. Sarah I love woman. I care about you. Let me vindicate your reputation. Here’s a few million dollars, go shoe shopping. You’ll feel better. (Laughter)
I got to wonder if Sarah didn’t look over at Abraham and go, “I’m staying with Abimelech, you know. He’s not a crazy old homeless guy in a tent.” You know. And he, he gives me money for shopping. He’s a good guy.” Right, he here is honoring Sarah in a way that he didn’t honor Sarah. He’s respecting her in a way that her own husband didn’t. Do you see the point sometimes the unbelievers are moral decent people and we feel convicted being around them because they show us our own hypocrisy. But it’s an important lesson for us to learn, like Abraham.
And so it concludes here, then Abraham did what Mars Hill, prayed to God. Praise to God. You know this had to be humbling. He just got ripped apart by an unbeliever. “Forgiveness and grace, and friendship showered upon him.” Do you think God’s taught him a lesson? “Abraham, you are not the most moral guy. You’ve been a believer for 25 years. There are still a lot of defects in your character. You need to get your marriage in order before your kid comes next year. There’s still a lot of work to do with you. You are a believer. I do love you. But, you’re not there yet.” Abraham then prays to God.
This is a guy who is restoring his relationship with God, coming back to God. He’s doing the one thing that Abimelech didn’t. Abimelech doesn’t pray to God. “Then Abraham prays to God.” Now it’s interesting because prior God told us that Abraham was going to pray for Abimelech. And here Abraham prays for Abimelech. And then he’s going to answer Abraham’s prayer for Abimelech. And there’s a big question like, “I thought God was sovereign. He does whatever he wants? He does, and “God and sovereign over the ends and the means.” He’s going to bring Sarah back. He’s going to restore the family and give him a son. And he’s going to do it through answering the prayer of Abraham.
“God is sovereign over the ends. God is sovereign over the means.” A lot of people were like, “Well, if God always gets his way, why pray, why evangelize, why study, why love, why serve because you’re part of the work and will of God. You are part of the sovereign plan of God. God works out things through us. We’re part of his plan. Abraham’s learning that his prayer life is part of this plan.
How many of you pray for unbelievers? Some of you get frustrated with them. You don’t want to talk with them anymore. You don’t want to talk to them anymore. Abraham prays for the unbeliever. He prays for the unbeliever. If you have family, friends, coworkers, people you love, don’t disconnect from them. Don’t get angry with them. Don’t do morality with them. Don’t even continue to pester them if you’re just frustrating them. Pray for them. Just intercede. Bring them before God. “Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again. For the Lord had closed up every womb in the household of Abimelech because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.”
Now a lot of you are like, “Abimelech, you’re here and you’re not Christians. You don’t love Jesus and you’re saying, “See this is my favor sermon. You said, “All the Christians are jerks. And that we’re better than they are. Good, this was a good sermon. I love Mars Hill. Never coming back, but that was a good sermon.” Okay, now if you’re going to buy the line which I am giving you. That sometimes Christians are jerks, we sin and we’re hypocrites, and we shouldn’t do things to you that we’ve done. If you’re going to buy that part of the story, buy the part of the story here too, where Abimelech, who is just like you an unbeliever, is still though a very moral and decent guy who does the right thing. He is still under condemnation. He’s still under condemnation, because he is not in loving relationship with God.
“So, he is under condemnation, and it’s not until Abraham prays, that his condemnation is lifted. His family is under condemnation. It’s not until Abraham prays that, that condemnation is lifted. And all of the wombs in his nation have been closed by God who is sovereign over the womb, until Abrahams prays and their condemnation collectively is lifted.” What does that show us? That you can be a good, moral, upright decent person, better than most Christians you know. But still if you don’t love Jesus, you are under condemnation. And you’re as good as dead.
And here he is giving them the opportunity to repent or not repent, to do the right thing or not do the right thing. To rust him or not trust him, and if they don’t the race will come to an end because there won’t be a next generation. Some of you ladies hear that. Some of you struggle with infertility, miscarriage. My wife had a miscarriage. And in our extended family infertility has been a big issue. Some of you are heartbroken on days when we dedicate children because you want to be a momma. I want you to see here. Does prayer work for a woman’s womb? It does. You’re going to see this repeatedly throughout Genesis. If you ladies are struggling with infertility or miscarriage, let people know who are Christians and have them pray for you, intercede for you. God does hear and answer prayer, to open the wombs of woman.
Here’s the story, I want to wrap it up for you. A sip of water, I’ve got a cold. I want to learn, study with you what we’ve learned about God. What we’ve learned about Abimelech. And what we learned from Abraham and Sarah. I’ll wrap, it up for you in just a few minutes. First thing we learned about God. Is God a faithful God in this story? Unbelievably faithful, isn’t he. He’s been putting up with this crazy couple for 25 years. They keep sinning. He’s still faithful. Paul says in the New Testament, “Even when Gods, – when we’re faithless, God’s faithful.” So we see the faithfulness of God.
Is God a supernatural God, dreams, opening and closing wombs, supernatural miraculous God? Is God a just God who deals justly with sin? Yes. He deals with Abimelech. “You were tricked, the sinned against you. I understand. I’m not going to crush you. But don’t touch that woman or otherwise you will be in sin and then I will deal with you harshly.” God’s totally just. Abraham get’s rebuked. Sarah get’s rebuked. Abimelech get’s an opportunity to do the right thing and come to the Lord. Everything is dealt with justly.
What also we learned about God is that is he sovereign. Does he get his way in the end, totally? This doesn’t mean that God ordains sin. That God doesn’t want any of us to pimp out our wives. Okay, you can’t say, “Well Abraham did it.” And it was wrong. What it means to be the sovereign is this. In the end you win. You get your way, in the middle people sin. But God is bigger than we are. He works out everything just the way he wants, Romans 8, “God, works out all things for good.” Genesis 50:20, “What is meant for evil, God will still use for good.” So, God is sovereign. What that means friends is you have made sinful mistakes and tragic errors in your life, but that need not be the end of it. The sovereign God could still work all that out for something good and beautiful.
Doesn’t mean he wanted you to sin but it means that he is bigger than your sin. And when he decides to get something done, like love or save or bless someone or give them a child and a family. He get’s that done no matter what.
Also we learned that God is the living God. That he opens and closes wombs, and gives children as a blessing. We’ll see that next week with Isaac. That God is a god that hears and answers prayer. Isn’t that amazing with all the things going on in world. And all the people that are on the earth. Abraham prays for a guy named Abimelech. And God immediately hears and responds. Prayer is powerful. It’s effective. God is a living god. He hears. I can’t encourage you enough to pray, to pray, not only for yourself but for others that you know and love.
And god is a God who knows everything. It’s his monitions, his all knowingness. He knows the heart of Abimelech, his intentions, his motives. He knows exactly why he did and didn’t do certain things. And the last thing that we learn about God is he is a God who forgives, Christians. He restores them in the right relationship with him. This should be encouraging.
We’ve all had moments like Abraham where we’ve done terrible things. We claim to be Christians we know better. God will forgive us. God will restore us. What we learn as well through Abimelech. Is that some of you here are like Abimelech. Nice, decent, moral, hard workin good folk. Like I believe I was, generally speaking, before I was a Christian. You say well, “But I’m a good person.” Well, good people don’t go to heaven. Perfect people do. You say “Well it’s too late then I have sinned.” Right, we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And we don’t compare ourselves to other sinners. We compare ourselves to a holy and just perfect God. And we see that we fall short of his standard for perfection to enter into his Kingdom. So our only hope is that God will give us his righteousness, take away our sin. He does that through the Lord Jesus. God made him, when we knew no sin to become sin so in him we might become the righteousness of God.
You and I are all sinners like Abimelech. And a part from God saving us, forgiving us, condemnation is still on our head because we’re sinners. Even though we are good people compared to other people. Some of you will identify in the story with Abraham and Sarah. You’re a man or a woman who claims to know God. Maybe you’ve sinned. You’ve fallen away. You’ve been rebellious or there’s things in your life that you are totally embarrassed by that really need work in the spirit of God is this time convicting you, pointing out those things in your life. And what we learn there is God saves us from ourselves. God saves us from ourselves. That Abraham and Sarah are not victims. They are fools. It’s not like people are destroying their life. They are destroying their own life and God intervenes, intersects in our life to save us from ourselves.
And so what we need and what we get pictured here is an intercessor. Abraham serves as an intercessor between Abimelech the unbeliever and God. And he intercedes and his intercession works. But the problem with Abraham is this. He is not a perfect intercessor. And eventually he died. He is not alive today. And he can’t intercede for us. So what God has chosen to do is have an intercessor, between you and me and God. And it doesn’t mean if – it doesn’t mean if you’re an unbeliever like Abimelech or a believer like Abraham and Sarah. We all need an intercessor. We can’t seek God. We can’t find God. We don’t know God. We’re not as good as we think we are. We are certainly not as good as God. We’re not good enough to be with him. So what happens then is God has to stoop and humble himself to come down to connect us to himself because we can’t connect ourselves to him.
This is a concept of an intercessor, which we see with Abraham, here praying for Abimelech and it’s fulfilled in Jesus. God becomes a man so he can connect people to God. And he’s able to do both because he is God and man. That’s the ministry of Jesus. He’s tempted as we are yet he doesn’t sin. He doesn’t do any of these things that Abraham and Sarah do. He dies as a substitute for our sin. He rises three days later to take away our sin and now he intercedes for us connecting us back to God the Father.
I’ll read three verse and close. Isaiah 53:12, 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Another Prophet named Isaiah writes, “Therefore I will give him – that’s Jesus – a portion among the great and he will divide the spoils among the strong, because he poured out his life on to death, and was numbered with the transgressors and the sinners” – Jesus died for the sinners, not as a sinner- For he bore the sins of many and made intercessions for the transgressors.” Jesus Christ came to live and die as an intercessor between us and God to take away our sins so we could be reconnected with God.
Romans 8:34, says, “Who is he who condemned’s Christ Jesus who died, more than that he was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us.” The Good News is that Jesus is alive today. Unlike Abraham who died. Jesus rose from death. He is the only one to every conquer sin and death. He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He’s the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and promises and he is alive today and his ministry today is intercession.
If you would like to talk to God the Father today, you can. You can. In the days of Abimelech, we couldn’t get to that King. Today we can’t get to the heavenly King but through Jesus we can. We can pray. Jesus will take our prayers to the Father. We can take our hurts, dreams, our failures, our concerns, we can bring them to Jesus and he intercedes for us.
He was God and become a man. He took away our sin through his death, burial and resurrection. Now he has given us this wonderful opportunity to turn from sin, trust in him. Be reconciled to God the Father our great heavenly King. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with anything that happens in your life you can bring it to Jesus and he will intercede. He will involve himself in your life, as he did with Abraham and Sarah. He will save you from yourself. He will save you from your sin. He will straighten out what you have made crooked. He will bring good out of bad. He will fix the mess you’ve made; he’s that kind of God. He lives to intercede.
He was there for Abraham. He’s there for us. He’ll be there for our children’s children. This is one God that we can always depend on, no matter what. And when we sin we don’t need to be afraid of this God like unbelievers. We know that he already knows our heart. He is not shocked by what we’ve done. He died for those things. We just need to come to him and be forgiven and healed.
And then it closes in Hebrew 7:25, “Therefore he – that’s Jesus – “is able to save completely.” Completely, you say, “What about that thing I did. What about that failure I had. What about the days like Abraham and Sarah where I just did a deplorable thing? “He can save completely. Those who come to God through him, he connects us back to God.” Because he always live to intercede for them, always lives to intercede, for them.
Jesus Christ is available right now. If you’re like Abimelech, a nice person that doesn’t know God and condemnation is on you. You’d like to be reconnected to God and have Jesus intercede for you. Right, in your seat you can talk to the Lord Jesus in your mind quietly, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’m a good person. I’m not a perfect person. Please forgive me of my sins. Please intercede for me right now. Please connect me back to God who is my Father.”
If you’re a Christian same thing, “Jesus, thank you that you are interceding for me right now. Thank you that you are alive and well and that you hear me and you listen. Do you listen to my prayers? You listen to my prayers just like Abraham’s prayers were answered.
For those of you, who are like Abimelech, don’t make the issue you and non Christians. Make the issue you and God. Maybe you are better than non, – many Christians. Maybe you’re better than me. But do you know God? Do you know God in Christ?
And for those of you, who are Christians deal with your own stuff, learn your lessons. But live to intercede for others, you friends, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers. When you leave here, leave here with a commitment to love this city as God love s this city. Not to judge it as Abraham did the Philistines. Leave the judging to God. Go here so when other’s here of Jesus and Mars Hill, it’s something good that they think that we love them and we’re here to serve them, that we want to be good friends and neighbors, workers, fellow servants in the city that we love. That we are not here to judge and condemn the city, that’s God’s business. We’re here to love the city on behalf of God.
We’re here to take and try and encourage those people who are decent and moral people and have been a great help to our city and even to our church or even to us personally. And to earn the right through our love and our witness that they will listen to us about Jesus. And in the meantime we intercede for them. We pray for them. And when the occasions provide for themselves we tell them, “I’m praying for you.” “Your wife’s pregnant and you work at my job I don’t want to be corny about it, but I’m praying for you and your wife. I heard your kid is sick, is there anything that I can be prayin for?”
Because one of things that we can do is to intercede, and people know that we love them and we’re friends with them when we intercede because we’re wanting our good God to do good things for our friends.
When you’re ready now you can get your time with Jesus in prayer, confession of sin. Become a Christian or clean up some of the junk in your life and learn your hard lessons like Abraham and Sarah. When you’re ready you come forward for communion, which is remembering Jesus body and blood, shed for our sin. You can partake of that. Give of your tithes and offerings. If you’re a visitor and not a Christian, don’t give you’re a guest, good to have yeah. And then we’re going to sing and celebrate. Why, because you know what this isn’t the last part of the Bible. They get their little boy. They get their grandson. They get the nation of Israel. They get their land, in Joshua. They get to be a blessing to the nations of the earth. Ultimately, another Jesus boy is born. His name is Jesus. He’s God. He dies for sin. He rises. He fixes the human problem. God does work it all out and he will in your life as well. And so we celebrate and worship God in faith. That he is not done. And neither are we.
“And so Lord Jesus, we come to you tonight, by faith. We thank you for the honesty of the Scripture. We thank you that you do not portray Abraham and Sarah as superheroes that we can’t relate to because they never sinned or did anything wrong. But their just frail, mortal, sinful people like us. Thank you that we see them was they are. Jesus I pray for those in the room that are like Abimelech, decent, moral, hardworkin, good folk, actually good neighbors, good bosses, good employees, good friends, God, thank you that they’re good nice people. Pray also that they would love you and get the condemnation that is over them lifted. They may be good but they’re not perfect and without sin. And they need Jesus desperately.
And Jesus, thank you so much that you are the hero. That ultimately the whole point of this family was to get to you so you could die and rise to take away sin. And thank you Jesus that you intercede for us, that you are alive right now. That you’re actually here—