Lecture Notes BSF Lesson 17 Genesis 20-21

Following the destruction of Sodom, Abraham moves again. 
There is no record that says God instructed him to move or that he consulted God about it.

This new region they settled in is the land of the Philistines – the place that eventually produces Goliath. 

Some detractors say this passage about Abraham’s ruse (saying Sarah is his sister) proves the Bible just repeats the same story again.  But this isn’t the same old story. This is a different time, place, and ruler. Abraham didn’t deal with his sin the first time around and repeats it. 

This is hard to understand – why, after Abraham’s encounters with God, did the unbelieving King Abimelech, behave more uprightly than Abraham? Abraham risked Sarah’s safety, honor, and well-being for his own protection. 

He lied. 
Premeditated sin.

We compartmentalize our sin – thinking it won’t affect the rest of our lives. In truth, it affects every part …

  • He obviously doubted God’s ability to protect him. His view of God was diminished.
  • He believed he was better able than God, so his view of himself was elevated.
  • He was fearful – fear for his life. Fear is the opposite of faith.
  • Fear becomes consuming in our minds.

God gives us His word to encourage us. “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” Romans 12:2 AMP (Abraham didn’t have the written word of God, however he did have the physical encounters with angels and the son of God.)

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal…” 2 Cor. 10:6
“…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Cor. 10:5
“…let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:5

Even when we are faithless, He is faithful. He restores us so that He can work through us. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful;” 2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV
Although Abimelech behaved more correctly out of fear of God, Abraham was under grace. Abimelech was under condemnation. It must have been quite humbling to be rebuked and disciplined by an unbeliever.

Yet God did not reject Abraham. He restored Abraham to right relationship with Himself. So we can assume that Abraham was repentant. God brought him back and used him in the healing and restoration of Abimelech and his household.

Am I holding on to some sin in my past? Seek forgiveness, repent because God wants to restore us.

No one can hang out a sign that says, “Nothing is the matter here.” All families have ups and downs. God has always been faithful to His word.

One year later, Sarah’s laughter (of doubt) turned into the joy of suckling her own baby.

We have a choice between good and God’s best.

  • Job you love – God’s call to do something else
  • Home or area you love – called to move somewhere else
  • Friends – called to leave one or more behind
  • Pass times – called to abandon the distraction and focus elsewhere

Ishmael was not God’s best. He was a product of man’s effort and striving. Age was not an obstacle. God knew what was best.

God said to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but not away from Himself, His love, His care, or His promise. From their perspective, it doesn’t seem fair.

We face circumstances that don’t seem fair. We may have lost someone through death or otherwise. We may not understand.

Contrast between faith vs. works of the flesh:
Ishmael = work of the flesh.
Isaac = work of God. 

We had an earthly father and mother. But we must be born again. All of us were born enemies of God.

God calls believers to give up their own plans. 

God calls us to follow and obey Him. It may not be easy, but it will go well.

Every time Abraham followed his own ways, trouble for himself, his family, and others ensued. Following God means choosing between good and God’s plan.

The closing verses of Chapter 21 relays a treaty between a prophet and a prince. Abraham demonstrated humility. It appears they had an amicable relationship. They saw that God’s was with Abraham in all he did. 

  • Do others notice that of us?
  • Do we trust God as easily as we fall back on trusting ourselves?

Some scholars say the name “Abimelech” may have been a title rather than a name. However, verse 23 shows it was likely the same guy Abraham originally deceived. Abimelech says, “promise you will not deal falsely with me or my descendants.”

The chapter ends with worship. New name of God revealed in Genesis 21:33 – The Everlasting God.

Ministry of Reconciliation

Obeying God prepares the way for reconciliation with God and others. Reconciliation means brought back into right relationship. It is not God who changes in order to get back into relationship with us. It is a work of God. A former sinner, transformed by grace, in right relationship with a Holy God! 

(She said, “Me, a sinner, in right relationship with a Holy God.” I changed it because I don’t believe I can still call myself a sinner since I have been born again. I may still commit a sin, but I am no longer born of the flesh. My name is no longer “sinner”. It is “redeemed.”)

God gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (See 2 Corinthians 5:11-21)

He is committed to us.  His appeal to us is to be reconciled with God. We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors – to get out and share the good news. 

We must be reconciled first.  Then allow God to use you to bring reconciliation.

  • Stick to the truth, even if it is initially more difficult. 
  • No matter who started it, what can you do to bring restoration?
  • Confess thoughts, actions, or accept blame even where none exists.
  • Do all you can do. Then pray.


I read an appropriate quote the other day: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” Robert Brault

Comments are welcomed and appreciated.

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