In today’s reading we learn of a second meeting between Abraham and God, and conclude with Abimelech attempting to take Abraham’s wife Sarah for his own.
Most people would be thankful to have one personal encounter with God; discussing life and God’s plan for them. Abraham over the course of just a year has two. In this second encounter with God regarding the opening of Sarah’s womb to Isaac, God concludes His visit with Abraham discussing the fact the He is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their exceeding wickedness. Oftentimes, the sin of Sodom is limited to one, but in reality, Sodom and Gomorrah in addition to the sin that is most often identified with the cities, is completely devoid of any morality whatsoever. It wasn’t for a single sin that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
What’s interesting about this interaction between God and Abraham is that God tells Abraham of what he is about to do, and instead of simply listening to God, affirming what He says, and then cheering him on; Abraham pleads the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is a very caring man and his argument before God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah is based on the number of righteous people who may live in the cities. Would God destroy the cities if 50 righteous people were found, sweeping them away into oblivion? How about 45 or 40 or 30 or 20? What if there were 10 righteous people who lived in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah? Would God destroy 10 righteous people to clean up the absolutely depraved landscape of these two wicked cities? The answer we see is ‘No’. For the sake of 10 righteous people, God would spare the lives of thousands.
Oftentimes, people feel like there is a disconnect between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. God as pictured in the Old Testament is cruel and vengeful. Looking for every opportunity to strike down those who sin against His righteous commandments. It’s interesting to note that God promises that he will forego destroying two completely morally depraved cities for the sake of 10 righteous people living in them. This should dispel the notion that God is looking to rain down judgment and destruction upon the wicked cities of the world today. For the sake of 10 only would God hold back from exercising righteous judgment on the most wicked places on earth.
In a brief episode from this reading, the story of Lot and his daughters is told. Although brief, this side story gives insight into the relationship that the children of Israel will have with two people groups who originated from the family of their father, Abraham. The Moabites and the Ammonites are essentially cousins of the children of Israel, born as a result of voluntary incest between Lot and his daughters. A very twisted story, but the Bible doesn’t shy away from telling it.
In the final vignette of today’s reading, we see the second example of Abraham’s cowardice and his propensity to lie. While Abraham passes through his territory, Abimelech notices Sarah. Abraham is afraid of being killed by Abimelech and tells Sarah to tell Abimelech and his servants that she is Abraham’s sister. Abimelech thinks Sarah is beautiful and attempts to take her as his wife. If I may take a moment to state, the years must have been quite kind to Sarah. At this point in Genesis, Sarah is approximately 90 years old, but Abimelech still attempts to take her as his wife. God is gracious to Abimelech and before Abimelech attempts to have relations with Sarah, He comes to him in a dream and tells him to not take Sarah for his own because she is someone else’s wife. Instead of allowing Abimelech to fall into sin by taking another man’s wife, God is gracious and intercedes to protect Abimelech from committing sin.
Abimelech’s response to Abraham and Sarah is remarkable. Not only does he not chase them out of his territory, he gives them livestock and money and allows them to stay and dwell in his land. In return for this kindness, Abraham prays and asks God to heal Abimelech and his wives in order that they may bear children. In spite of the fact that Abraham has yet to have a child of his own, he is compelled to ask for the blessing of children for Abimelech. Although he had not yet received the promise of his own child from God, Abraham prayed for the blessing for someone else. Abraham most certainly has his shortcomings as a human being but from two of the accounts witnessed in today’s reading it’s quite obvious that he was a caring and loving man.