Chapter Twelve Appendix: Prayer and Prophecy

Genesis 20 Events

After the great conflagration of the cities of the plain, Abraham moved south and west into the region of the Negev. Perhaps after a while, the smoke and stench from the fiery destruction tainted the air and affected the agricultural prospects in Hebron, forcing him to move. It was not beyond his view; as the Scripture reports, he saw the dense smoke rising from the land, like the smoke from a furnace, when he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Negev was within the boundaries of the land promised to him by the Lord, but its inhabitants were quite aggressive, for once again in Gerar, a town in the northern Negev, he said of his wife, “She is my sister.” (Gen 20:2) The king there took her into his household (a 90-year old woman!!); however, before he could touch her, God came to him in a dream and said, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” (ibid., vs 3)

Abimelech, the king, 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.” (ibid., vss 4, 5)
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 yours will die.” (ibid., vss 6, 7 NIV)

Once again, Abraham sinned by failing to claim Sarah as his wife in the critical moment, introducing her as only a sister, and this after the promise of the son! Nevertheless, the purpose of the Lord would be established, for when God has begun to do a great work, nothing can stop him. As it is written in Isaiah:

“I AM GOD AND THERE IS NO OTHER; I AM GOD, AND THERE IS NONE LIKE ME. I MAKE KNOWN THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, FROM ANCIENT TIMES, WHAT IS STILL TO COME. I SAY: MY PURPOSE WILL STAND, AND I WILL DO ALL THAT I PLEASE.” (Is 46:9, 10 NIV)

God made the episode into an object lesson in prayer. Graciously, he called on Abraham to pray for Abimelech, thus reminding him of the covenant promise in regard to Sarah, and assisting him to proceed as a man of God, despite his sin.

The first mention of the word “prophet” in the Bible is when God says to Abimelech, “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.” (Gen 20:7) Here also is the first mention of the word “pray.” This is a very significant Bible passage.

Through it we see the intercessor as God’s prophet, the one who speaks for the Lord, because God gives him what to pray. He will pray and his prayers will be granted for he has interceded according to the will of God.

We would rather that Abraham had said to Abimelech, “No, you can’t take her. She’s my wife and will soon be a mother!” Yet by his failure we see the Lord’s power more clearly. He would make the first descendant of his chosen people a sign of his greatness and a gift of his mercy. Thus, no one today can claim that the continuation of the Faith or of the Church depends on man. God designed and enabled their origin and he will make certain our perseverance. He will finish the work in the Church that he began in Abram.

Abraham was not a perfect man; he was God’s man, and Lot was rescued on his behalf. He was not always exemplary, but in the face of daily provocations he was enabled to do right, and when he fell, he was restored. That is the sign of a true man of God. It is also the sign of a woman who belongs to Him.

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Introduction

About

Chapter One

What About Lot?
Further Study

Chapter Two

A Type of Christian
Further Study

Chapter Three

Westward Ho!
Further Study

Chapter Four

Time for Worship
Further Study

Chapter Five

Severing Ties
Further Study

Chapter Six

The Rescue
Further Study

Chapter Seven

The Promise Sealed
Further Study

Chapter Eight

Nearer to God
Further Study

Chapter Nine

The Covenant
Further Study

Chapter Ten

To Whom Much Is Given
Further Study

Chapter Eleven

God Remembered Abraham
Further Study

Chapter Twelve

A Good Ending
Further Study

Afterword

He Draws the Unwilling