**  ABRAHAM AND ABIMELECH (20:1-18; 21:22-34)

Who was Abimelech and how did Abraham lie to him?

Abimelech was king of Gerar.  He told the king that Sarah was his sister.

When had he previously done something like this? (12:10-20)

He made the same plan before he went down to Egypt.  In Egypt he told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister.

What does this reveal about his weakness?

Abraham had a bad habit of lying.  This was from fear.  When he moved to Gerar, the old fear of powerful worldly rulers arose in his heart.  He didn't think of himself as a servant of God, nor did he think the king was a man like himself.  He regarded the king as a man with power of life and death over small people like himself.  He assumed that the king was a godless man without a conscience.  So Abraham lied.  Some things in our past lives remain unsolved when we live by faith.  God will train us through different circumstances so we can repent.  Fear makes us do strange things.

a)  What happened?  

King Abimelech took Sarah.

How did God rebuke him? 

In a dream.  Read verse 3.

What excuse did he make?

He said that he was an innocent man and that he did it with a clear conscience because Abraham had said that she was his sister.  See verses 4-5.

What did God tell him to do? 

To return the man's wife for he is a prophet.  He also told him that Abraham would pray for him and he would live.  If he did not return Sarah, the king and all he had would die.

What did he do?

He returned Sarah and rebuked Abraham.  See verses 8-10.

How had Abraham misjudged him?

It turned out that Abimelech was not a godless man.  He and his officials feared God.  See verses 3-4.  When God warned Abimelech, he acted.  Even though Abraham was clearly in the wrong and Abimelech seemed to be much better, God stood on Abraham's side and he honored Abraham as his servant.  Abraham had greatly misjudged Abimelech.

a)  How was this matter finally resolved (14-18)?  

Abimelech brought sheep, cattle, male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham and he returned  Sarah.  Abimelech was very generous and cordial, "My land is before you; live wherever you like."  King Abimelech gave Sarah 1,000 shekels of silver to cover the offenses against him.

What does this event show us about God's character?

God is patient with Abraham's weaknesses.  God is the good shepherd who watches over his people and protects them from danger and from careless mistakes.

About Abraham's need for spiritual growth?

Abraham's mistake caused suffering.  He must grow in faith to believe that God is with him wherever he goes and will protect him because God is Sovereign.

** ISAAC AND ISHMAEL (21:1-21)

a)  What does Isaac's birth teach us about God?

God's faithfulness.  God keeps his promises.  How was he gracious?  He didn't ignore an old woman and gave her a beautiful son.  God keeps his promises and works on his time schedule.  He is always on time.  In this changeable world, God is unchanging.  God is gracious and will do whatever he promises.  We will never be disappointed when we trust in him and wait on him.  "Exactly one year later." See 17;21; 18:10; 10:14.  God has his own time.  God never forgot what he had promised Abraham.  God gave him Isaac when Abraham was ready in faith.  God wants to teach us faith and hope by training us in patience.  God would send Jesus on his time.  See Galatians 4:4.  God will send Jesus a second time as he promised on his time.

a)  What did Abraham name his son?  Why?

He named him Isaac. This was the name God told him.  See 17:19.  Abraham was obedient, humble and thankful.  He was a man of obedient faith.

How else did he show his obedience to God?  

He circumcised HIM.  See verse 8.

In what way does this baby's birth testify to the almighty power of God? (3-5)

Sarah was old and barren.  Abraham was 100 years old.  Physically speaking, this was impossible.  But nothing is impossible with God.

a)  What was Sarah's testimony at Isaac's birth?  

Read verse 6.  

Why was she so joyful?

Isaac was God's blessing in midst of an impossible situation.  She responded to God's grace with laughter.  God's grace gives us laughter and joy.  Isaac was God's gift.  He brought joy and happiness.  The laughter of unbelief (18:12) became the laughter of joy and gratitude.

Compare the blessings God gives with the things for which men strive.

The things that man strive for often give them a lot of headaches, heartaches and ulcers.  They seem like blessings but often they become burdens.  They are not true blessings because real blessings can only come from God.  See James 1:17.  Abraham had thought that he was happy with Ishmael --- and indeed, he had enjoyed some human happiness.  But Isaac "laughter", was more than just a happy little baby boy who brought human happiness to Abraham and Sarah.  He represented God's love and faithfulness.  He was God's gift of love.  He brought spiritual joy that only comes when we have peace with God and we realize that God loves us personally and deeply.

a)  What happened on the day Isaac was weaned?

Abraham held a great feast.  But Ishmael was found to be mocking Isaac.

What might be the problem between Isaac and Ishmael?

Ishmael was jealous of little Isaac.  The compromise and the promise can't live together.  There is tension.

What did Sarah tell Abraham to do?  

To get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son would never share in the inheritance with her son Isaac.

What were her mixed motives?

She knew how Abraham might have felt about Ishmael.  She wanted favor for her son, Isaac.

a)  How did Abraham react?

The matter distressed Abraham because it concerned his son.  See verse 11.

How did God council him?

Read verses 12-13.

What promises did God give Abraham?

"It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."

What did Abraham do?

He sent off Hagar and Ishmael early the next morning.

How could he do this?

He believed God's word and blessing for Isaac.

Why was it necessary?

Ishmael was the product of his compromised life.  It reminded him of his sin.  It came from unbelief.  God wants us to deny ourselves and walk before him and be blameless.  We must learn sacrifice because God's blessings are always the best.  Ishmael was the son of Abraham's compromised life.  He was the fruit of his impatience and unfaithfulness to God.  God also wanted Abraham to deeply accept his way of working, denying his own.  Abraham's obedience came from faith not feeling.  We must find out Ishmael and get rid of it because it is compromise that hinders our spiritual growth and can't please God.

How was this a turning point in his life of faith?

He got rid of his compromised life.  He could now focus on raising up Isaac as a man of God.

a)  Describe Hagar's second encounter with the Lord.  (See chapter 16)  What does this event teach us about God (15-21)?

God was with them and took care of them.  See verses 17-20.  This event teaches us that God does not ignore those who cry for help.  God takes care of our Ishmael better than we can.  Abraham head worried about Hagar and Ishmael, but God took care of them.  God took care of them because of Abraham's faith.


a)  Why did Abimelech come to Abraham?  

Because he saw that God was with him in everything he did.  He revered Abraham.

What did he recognize about him?

That Abraham was a man of God.

What request did Abimelech make?

That he would promise that he wouldn't deal falsely with him and his children or his descendants.  To show him kindness.  He took the commander of his armed forces with him also to make this request.

a)  What complaint did Abraham make to Abimelech?

Abimelech's servants had seized one of Abraham's wells.

How does this reveal Abraham's changed attitude?

He was bold about it, not scared.  He met Abimelech as an equal.

How did Abraham take the initiative to be clear with Abimelech?

He made a treaty and brought sheep.  Then, they swore an oath.  See verses 30-31.

What did he do after this event?

He planted a Tamarisk tree and called on the name of the Lord, the eternal God. 


It shows he accepted God as Sovereign and eternal; unlimited.  He believed that God was with him wherever he was.

How might we account far Abraham's changed attitide?

He had seen God's help and protection and personally experienced it.  His spiritual victory over Abimelech didn't make him proud; it made him more humble depend on God.  His real victory was victory over himself through absolute obedience to God.  He got rid of his Ishmael.

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