Please consider for a moment the trouble a King named Abimelech (King of the nation Gerar) got himself into while behaving in a genuinely upright and moral fashion. And not just trouble, but trouble and condemnation from the Lord, to the point that he almost lost his life. The incident takes place as Abraham is traveling through Gerar, and King Abimelech notices not only Abraham, but also his wife Sarah. Let us read:
Genesis 20:2-7; 17; 18 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.”.…. 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.
Usually this passage is read with the actions of Abraham being the focus. Today, let us take a long hard look at the exchange between the Lord and the king. By all accepted standards, King Abimelech was doing nothing wrong! He did not realize Sarah was a married woman. Abimelech was of the understanding that Sarah was a beautiful, young, available woman, and the sister of Abraham. When he took her to be his wife, he conducted himself with all morality and kept his conscience clean. But what was the result? The Lord told him that he was as good as dead! The Lord knew of Abraham’s lie, He knew of Abimelech’s morality, and yet still he held Abimelech accountable. This is an extremely important truth that must be realized. It is quite possible to sin against God while behaving in a moral fashion and being completely unaware that your actions are wrong. Abimelech had taken another man’s wife, and this was wrong. Period. His good intentions and self-declared innocence meant nothing. According to verse 18, the king and his household were already suffering the effects of his sin.
So of what value was King Abimelech’s morality? It kept his conscience clean and I am sure this allowed him to sleep well at night, but sound sleep was its’ only value. Indeed, those nights of restful slumber were nothing to be envied, for the Lord of Hosts had judged him to be worthy of death and the King had no clue. The trust he placed in his morality actually hindered his reconciling with God, until the Lord confronted him directly.
Let us now turn our eye to local areas and the present day, keeping this lesson in mind….
The current Christian sub-culture in the Bible Belt area of the U.S. has promoted morality to a highly vaulted position. We protest if “Happy Holidays” replaces “Merry Christmas” on the posters at the local stores at Christmas time. We march in protest whenever the subject of abortion is addressed at the courts, we listen to Christian radio focusing on the family, and don’t forget the Read more…