Genesis 20:1-7: Marriage matters.

“Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’ Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.  But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, ‘You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.’  Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, ‘Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, “She is my sister,” and didn’t she also say, “He is my brother”? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.’  Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.’” NIV UK

The great heroes of the Bible, as we have noted before, were flawed. They had feet of clay. Here we see Abraham repeating an earlier sin (Genesis 12). He had fallen off his horse at this fence before. Here he was again, chewing turf! He had displayed such godly, prayerful behaviour in recent times. Why should he once again resort to deceit, to scheming? Like all of us, Abraham was a ‘mixed bag.’ Of late, I’ve been re-visiting the history of early Pentecostalism. I have seen clearly that some of the great men who were used to bring many people to Christ; who performed notable miracles, were flawed and failing. They could say things which were not nice. They could quarrel and compete. They were not totally free of personal ambition. Yet God did use them. You see, a gift is a gift. It’s not a reward. It’s not necessarily a sign that someone is particularly godly, or that all their theology is correct. In spite of his sin, it is still the case that Abraham was a ‘’prophet’’ (7), and he was powerful in prayer. ‘The best of men are men at best.’

I also take heart from this story that God can reach anyone He chooses (3).He can call them up at any time. He has their private number. Both in Bible days and now, God speaks to people in dreams-especially in areas where people don’t have easy access to the Bible. When you try to talk to a person about Christ, you may find their line ‘engaged.’ But the Lord can get through. Don’t doubt it. To you they may be ‘ex-directory; but not to Him!

Once again, this story brings us face to face with the sanctity of marriage. It is a serious thing to violate it. Marriage matters. It is much more than a physical, biological coming together of two people: a man and a woman. It is a covenant. God is involved. To attack marriage is to declare war on God. He conducts the wedding, effectively, and He is deeply invested in these two people staying together through life. If you read what ‘Proverbs’ has to say about fidelity and infidelity in marriage, you are bound to see that adultery is a self-destruct mechanism. If you hide the book of ‘Proverbs’, alone, in your heart, you will not venture into that territory. It sets up a clear, strong fence at the top of the cliff. As someone said, a fence at the top is better than an ambulance at the bottom.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for your good gift of marriage. Graciously help us to guard our marriages, and walk in faithfulness before you and with each other.