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Are you a good neighbor? Genesis 20 | RIOT Podcast

April 25, 2024

In last week’s show, we discussed in detail the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, and compared the difference between how Lot lived according to worldly ways and how Abraham made choices based on spiritual guidance. It was a very powerful show, and I highly encourage you to go back and listen to it.

This week’s show, we will read Genesis 20. Here, we will see that Abraham and Sarah are moving, and as with all moves, when you come into a new area, you meet new neighbors. Today, we will be introduced to Abraham’s new neighbor, the King of Gerar, named Abimelech.

In a complete shift from the last week’s show, this week we see Abraham acting out of fear of his new neighbor and operating in a way influenced by his flesh, rather than his spirit. He takes control of his life by telling Abimelech that his wife Sarah is his sister. Abimelech then takes Sarah to be his wife, and God has to intervene once again to protect Abraham.

Neighbors can be a great source of blessings and can sometimes become even closer to us than some of our own relatives. Proverbs 27:10 states, “Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” However, neighbors can also be a source of problems, whether they are believers or unbelievers. In fact, at times we ourselves can be a difficult neighbor. In today’s show, we see Abraham dealing with his neighbor as a troublemaker.

Let’s read Genesis 20

If you did not know who Abraham was and you read this chapter for the first time, which of the two men would you say was the believer? Surely not Abraham, the liar! It was not Abraham who showed integrity, and it was not Abraham whom God kept from sinning. What Abraham did was selfish, but Abimelech responded with generosity.

If this chapter was talking about our lives, it would be an embarrassment to us. But the Bible tells the truth about all people, and that includes God’s people. For example, it did not hide the fact that Noah got drunk and exposed himself in Gen 9. Or that Moses lost his temper and killed someone in Num 20. It definitely didn’t hold back in exposing David with his affair and murder cover up. Nor Peter in his denial of Jesus. Why do you think the bible allows these shortcomings to be written down?

So why do you think Abraham sinned?

This leads me to a second question. Why did Abraham move in the first place? Perhaps it was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that caused Abraham to want to move, but whatever his motive was, we now know the decision was not a wise one.

It is almost like Abraham forgot that God was the “Almighty God” that we studied back in Gen 17 and that God gave Abraham a covenant to bless him and Sarah.

A lighthearted admission of sin is not the same as a brokenhearted confession of sin. If our attitude is right, we will hate our sins, loathe ourselves for having sinned, and despise the very memory of our sins.

Abimelech was a man of integrity, and when God spoke to him, he obeyed. He had many fine qualities, but he was not a believer, and therefore he was a dead man according to Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”

When believers sin, they suffer. Charles Spurgeon said, “God does not allow His children to sin successfully. When we deliberately disobey God, we suffer both from the consequences of our sins and from the chastening hand of God, unless we repent and submit.”

Heb 12:5-11 says “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

It took only a few seconds for Abraham to tell a lie, but that lie was more than just words. That lie became a seed that was planted and grew and brought forth bitter fruit.

So, what did this one lie cost Abraham?

I can only imagine how humiliated Abraham must have felt when Abimelech called him in, confronted him, and rebuked him. It is hard enough to submit to the rebuke of a Christian brother or sister, but to accept rebuke from an unsaved person demands a great deal of honesty and humility.

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