1 And Abraham [Avraham] journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
In Isaac shall thy seed be called - 21: 12
Abraham was ninety years old and nine, and Ishmael thirteen when they were circumcised (Gen. 17:24-25.). Isaac was born when he was one hundred. Between the circumcision of his household and the birth of Isaac, while he was yet living
"in the plain of Mamre which is Hebron,"
the Lord appeared to him, and again promised Sarah a son. At this crisis Sodom and Gormorrah were destroyed, and the dead sea formed.
After this catastrophy, Abraham journeyed from Hebron towards the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar of the Philistines (Gen. 20:1).
On his arrival there, he entered into an agreement with the king of the country, which they confirmed by an oath, by which he was permitted to dwell in any part of Philistia he pleased, and a certain well of water was restored to him, called Beer-sheba, which had been violently taken away by the king's servants (Gen. 20:15; Gen. 21:25,31)
After this arrangement Isaac was born according to promise. On the day he was weaned Abraham made a great feast. It was then Ishmael was detected mocking at Isaac which caused his and Hagar's expulsion from the family. These being cast out, Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and there "called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." Having thus settled himself,
"he sojourned in the Philistines' land many days" (Gen. 21:33, 34).
Elpis Israel ii.2.6.
2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
She was at his court for a considerable time (verse 18). He [Abimelech] supposed her to be an unmarried woman and free, and his desires were towards her.
Abimelech = Father of a King. Abraham 's wanderings in the wilderness of Gerar (= rolling, ref. to terrain), the great south country, dusty flat plains leading to the deserts of the Negev and Sinai, teach many lessons.
They remind us that we also are passing through a waste howling wilderness where nothing favourable to the Truth grows, and where perils lie at every turn (1 Cor 10). Gerar lay close to the Brook Besor (1 Sam.30. 9-21).
How easy it is to get ensnared in a situation, which only with great difficulty we can extricate ourselves, and then only with Yahweh's help. One crisis resolved leads on to another, and so we learn the hard way through the trials and experiences of life, looking to that eternal city, whose builder and maker is God, and true peace and harmony will prevaiI.
'By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God'.(Heb 11:9,10)
We get a glimpse into the perilous precarious existence of Abraham, and his company, but Yahweh delivered him out of all his troubles, (Pslm 34:6,7)
The Apocalyptic Messenger, March 2016
3 But Elohim 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.
Abraham's next trial (Gen. 20) is a repetition in the land of the Philistines of the circumstances that happened in Egypt. Once again he attempts to ensure his own safety by deception regarding his relation to Sarah, once again he creates for himself and others much greater danger than that he sought to avoid; and once again he is humiliatingly rebuked by the foreigner he has deceived.
It is not our position to judge Abraham. His place in God's purpose is a fixed and glorious one. He is one of the few great men of the race, towering far above us. But it IS our duty to be guided and warned by his mistakes, and their consequences. Abraham's conduct did not reflect glory to God in this matter.
With the best of intentions, in the exercise of his own judgment, Abraham followed a course of apparently harmless deception which instead of helping him, brought him and Sarah into very serious complications. "She is my sister." It was technically true, but it was said to create a false impression.
The Scriptures exalt Truth very highly. Like purity and holiness, it is a fundamental characteristic of eternity and incorruptibility. Truth, and Truth alone, is enduring and substantial. All deception contains the seeds of corruption and decay, however well-meaning its purpose and harmless its intentions.
It was not necessary for Abraham to descend to deception. God had proclaimed himself Abraham's "Shield and exceeding great Reward" (Gen. 15). Why need he cheapen himself with subterfuge?
But is it possible that the course Abraham followed was perfectly acceptable with God, and in harmony with God's eternal standards? It does not seem so, in light of the consequences both times. Abraham is rebuked and humiliated. It would set too low a value on dignity and integrity. It does not harmonize with utter and complete "Truth in the inward parts" which is the only satisfactory ideal (Psa. 51:6).
Truth must be absolute to have any value. Permit the smallest amount of falsehood to mingle with Truth, and Truth begins immediately to take the shape of mere expediency, and the colour of hypocrisy. We cannot believe that Abraham's conduct in these instances represents the ideal we are striving toward.
But it will be said that God Himself makes use of deception. Many instances will come to mind, such as when He causes armies to flee at the noise of an imaginary enemy (2 Kgs. 7:6). Even further, God has instructed man in the use of deception. The stratagem whereby the city of Ai was taken by ambush was at the direct command of God (Josh. 8:2). Abraham very likely used a similar device in defeating Chedorlaomer and rescuing Lot. Deception is one of the basic, universally recognized first principles of warfare, and God has in the past legitimized war.
Does this destroy our viewpoint? Must we then be content with something less than pure truth and perfection in our ideals? Still we hear the voice of the Psalmist,
"Thou desirest Truth in the inward parts". . . "Blessed is he that speaketh the Truth in his heart."
God Himself can with complete propriety use deception if it suits His all wise purpose. He is over and above all. He knows and controls all. Therefore, there is no injustice or incongruity in His using deception as a judicial measure. He would never deceive except to punish.
He creates evil, and uses it, yet evil is not holy, or pure, or eternal, and it is forbidden to His children, except at His direct instruction. We are told (2 Thess. 2:10-12) that because men receive not the love of Truth, God sends them "strong delusion" and causes them to "believe a lie." That is deception -- judicial deception, and a fitting retribution for rejecting the love of Truth.
Deception is part of the same fabric as evil and war, and is legitimate only in circumstances where they are legitimate. It has no place in the daily lives and contacts of those who are striving to conform themselves to eternal things, and to manifest God to man. It had no place here -- in the relationship between Abraham and Abimelech.
It may be said that as it was not wrong for Abraham to use war, it was also not wrong for him to use deception. But this does not follow. David's charge against Joab was that he deceitfully shed the blood of war in peace (1 Kgs. 2:5). Abraham, using deception, set in motion forces that well nigh brought about the death of many (naturally speaking) innocent people.
And more important than his relations with Abimelech were his relations with Sarah. All the dignity and beauty of marriage depends upon its conformity with the great antitype Christ and the Ecclesia. Could Christ, to avoid persecution, conceal his relationship to the Ecclesia, or she her's to him? Many Christians lost their lives because they would not permit the slightest obscuring of this relationship. We remember Daniel and his fearlessly opened window that brought him to the lions' den (Dan. 6:10). It is an inspiring testimony for all time.
The false church, on the other hand, not perceiving the deep significance of its bonds and communion with Christ, or treating them lightly, said, "He is only my brother, I am still free to marry the king of Egypt for present advantage," so they sought the world's companionship and citizenship, and persecution ceased.
Bro Growcott - Shall a child be born
6 And Elohim 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.
This had happened before (Gen.12.14-20). Yahweh intervened and prevented Sarah being defiled.
This instance bears two ways, first, with respect to Abraham; God invisibly protected his wife in the dangerous position in which she was placed through Abraham's own prudence. Secondly, with respect to Abimelech, who seems to have been a righteous man (verse 4).
He was withheld from doing a thing which, while legitimate from his own point of view, would have been a wrong against God. He would not be aware of the fact. From day to day, domestic events and his own mood would simply take that turn, apparently in the ordinary course, which would keep him from the course that seemed open and desirable to him. God was withholding him and he did not know it.
Why did he withhold him? Because he was animated by integrity of heart in the matter. This is the point of the case in its bearing in subsequent times; for it was intended for subsequent times. The Spirit in Paul informs us that these things were "written for our learning" (Rom. 15:4). They were not written as human records are written-merely for their historic interest. They were not even written for Abraham's sake alone, but for us also (Rom. 4:23-24). They were written for our instruction, guidance and comfort.
Consequently, if we set ourselves, with earnest purpose, to pursue the ways of righteousness, Abimelech's case shows us that we pray not a vain prayer when we pray "deliver us from evil." Nor is it an empty allusion when Jude ascribes glory-
"To Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (verse 24).
The lesson of the case is both comforting and purifying. It is the lesson embodied in the words of Peter:
"Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him IN WELL DOING as unto a faithful Creator."
The Ways of Providence Ch 3