God's Creative Call

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Political & Family Crises: Consequences of Unbelief

God's Creative Call

Political & Family Crises: Consequences of Unbelief

Genesis 20-21

GROUP DISCUSSION. Consider a time when you spoke only a part of the truth when a full answer was called for.

Two older, senior adults (both are Catholic) in my life are living together without being married. Each have children from their deceased spouses. I got up the courage to ask if the children of the man approved of his moving in with the woman. What I SHOULD have done was ask the woman whether or not she thinks God approves of their living situation!! It's a tough thing to do because she became quite angry with me just for asking whether or not the children approve! I was afraid of causing a fight and neglected to even mention the part about God's approval!

PERSONAL REFLECTION. Recall a situation when it appeared that a "non-Christian" was acting more ethically than a believer.

When a tele-evangelist called for the "assassination of Hugo Chavez" on air and stirred up a firestorm of controversy. The non-Christians on several news broadcasts and analyst shows had a field day with that one! The problem with the secular news media is that they then go too far and equate one man's rhetoric to be the views of ALL evangelical Christians!

1. Describe Abraham's action and how God deals with it in 20:1-7.

Abraham didn't learn his lesson the first time he tried this deception. (12:11-13) But God was watching out for him, even in Abraham's sin.

2. How does God's conversation with Abimelech show his concern even for those who are outside his covenant relationship?

Although Abimelech wasn't a believer, God held him back from sinning (even though it could be said unknowingly sinning) by touching Sarah.

3. From 20:8-10 what are your impressions of Abimelech in his encounter with Abraham?

Apparently, Abimelech had the fear of God placed in his midst and even all of his officials were afraid! Abimelech asked Abraham several questions to find out Abraham's reasons for doing this. Abimelech didn't just attack Abraham for deceiving him.

4. As Abraham tries to explain his way out of his difficulty (20:11-13), what potential consequences does his action have for Sarah, their promised son and Abimelech's family?

Abraham assumed that Abimelech was ungodly and might harm him if he knew that Sarah was his wife. Abraham decided to deceive Abimelech rather than trust God for the outcome. Sarah could have become pregnant if she slept with Abimelech and would have potentially ruined the conception of the promised son of Abraham and Sarah. Abimelech's family would have suffered by the death of Abimelech if he had touched Sarah. But God intervened and wouldn't allow any of that to happen.

5. Think of a situation when your stretching of the truth had serious consequences. What did you learn?

I discovered that any time I lied, it often was found out anyway so why put myself into that kind of situation with people? God is not pleased with lies or even half-truths, so they must be avoided. Once a lie or half-truth is told, we usually end up telling more lies to cover the first one up! Not worth it!

6. As this episode ends, how is Abraham's stature restored (20:14-18)?

Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham and also gave him sheep, cattle and slaves. He allowed Abraham to live where he chooses on his land. Abraham then prayed to God for Abimelech's wife and women in his household to be able to have children. The "closing up of wombs" was meant to change the situation, not to harm Abimelech.

7. Seeing the effects of Abraham's fear and lack of trust, what can we learn from this account to help us deal with the ongoing fears whe have?

Anything is possible with God as long as we do not fear and trust Him! Trusting Him completely means just that; even if we do not understand the situation. God can intervene even when we don't expect it!

8. Read Genesis 21. Describe how Sarah fells in 21:1-7 after waiting so long to bear a child.

Sarah laughed and proclaimed that everyone who hears will laugh with her. Even though she had repeated promises, a visit by two angels and the appearance of the Lord himself, Sarah was surprised and filled with joy at the birth of her son! This is an abject lesson in why we should not worry or have fear about things in this life! Sarah could have been at peace all this time if only she had trusted God's promise to her!

9. How can Sarah and Abraham's experience encourage us to be more patient while we wait for prayers to be answered?

Trusting God in the midst of our problems, worries, fears and doubts teaches us to be patient while waiting for prayers to be answered. This is how we can have peace in our heart...the peace that surpasses all understanding because no matter what we are going through, God is ultimately in control! We can trust in HIs promises!

10. In 21:8-14 what problem does Abraham face and how is it solved?

The son that Abraham had with Hagar was mocking toward Isaac. Sarah wanted Abraham to send them away.

11. How does God help and encourage Hagar in her hour of crisis (21:15-21)?

God heard both the boy and Hagar crying. He told Hagar that He would make Ishmael's decendants into a great nation. God opened her eyes to a well of water and Hagar filled the empty skin with water and gave Ishmael a drink.

12. What does Abimelech's request show about his attitude toward Abraham (21:22-34)?

Abimelech realized that God was with Abraham in everything that he does, so he respected him. They swore an oath at Beersheba and made a treaty there.
The phrase, "from Dan to Beersheba" was often used to describe the traditional boundaries of the promised land (2 Samuel 17:11). Beersheba was also the home of Isaac, Abraham's son.

13. How can God's grace and faithfulness to the main characters in this account motivate you to trust him the next time you are filled with fear or doubt?

I think that fear and doubt is often used by the enemy of our souls (Satan) in order to undermine our confidence and trust in God. He did this to Eve in the Garden of Eden and deceived her into thinking that God was "holding out on her." Knowing the consequences of evil, sin and death shows us that God wanted to protect us from the consequences of living with the knowledge of evil on this earth! He wanted us to only know good and to trust Him completely for our well being. Now, God wants us restored to Him and the Gospel of Christ is the ONLY WAY to be reconciled to Him!! When we repent, ask for forgiveness of our sin, trust that Jesus Christ is our promised Messiah and invite him into our hearts to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are then His for all eternity. We are sealed for the day of redemption through the power of the Holy Spirit and NOTHING can snatch us out of His hands! That's eternal security...no matter what happens here on earth!


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