When I was a child I often pulled out one of the volumes of our encyclopaedia -- the one that had the clear plastic pages that revealed the layers of the human body. Looking at the first page you saw the body with its skin on … but turning the pages revealed the hidden layers… the muscles, the organs , the bones. An MRI in a very primitive stage !
The bible is like that . We can look at the Word ‘with its skin’ on’ … seeing the obvious. But if we peal back the layers we see much more. The hidden layers reveal types, and shadows and prophecies – all making scripture infinitely fascinating.
I looked at one passage this week. The story of Abraham and Abimelech.
The ‘skin’ layer of the story we are all familiar with as it is told in Gen. 20.
Abraham, in obedience to God’s command to leave his homeland journeys to a far off land. He comes to Gerar and settles there. Gerar was a Philistine city ruled over by a king named Abimelech.
Abraham, not trusting this king, told Sarah to say that she was his sister. While Sarah was indeed Abraham’s half-sister, it was not the whole truth as Sarah was also Abraham’s wife.
Abraham’s fears were not unfounded, as we find out when Abimelech , taking one look at Sarah, desires her and takes her !
But God warnes Abimelech in a dream that if he touches Sarah he is a dead man…because Sarah belongs to Abraham.
Abimilech arises in the morning a very troubled man and immediately calls Abraham to inquire of him why he had deceived him. He blames Abraham for bringing upon him and his country a great sin !
Abraham finally tells the truth … and the story ends with Abimelech giving Abraham gifts and in return Abraham prays for Abimelech and God restores fertility to Abimelech’s household.
We can look at this story in another way - looking a little deeper and seeing another layer of meaning come into focus.
Abraham represents ‘faith’. In Gal. 3:7 we read “…know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
Abimelech is a Philistine. A Philistine represents carnal knowledge. A Philistine appears to be attractive, powerful and in authority , but a Philistine never thinks like God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7)
Faith …. is the only way to know God, to be related to God, to enjoy the things of God.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6)
Carnal knowledge cannot understand the things of God.. nor can it attain to Him, nor can it grasp at or take the things that belong to Faith.
Rom 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom.8:6)
Abraham feared Abimelech because he represented all that is appealing to the natural man as well as the human desire to please man.
Are we not often like Abraham in our view of the wisdom that is of this world?
How often do we compromise our faith by accepting the thinking of this world ?
However, we need to remember ! - the mind set of this world can never possess the things that belong to faith !
Even though Abimelech tried to take what belonged to Abraham , God prevented him.
God will never allow man , through his carnal intelligence, to find a way to possess the things that belong to ‘faith’, the things of God.
Mar 4:12 “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”
And yet…by preventing Abimelech from carnally taking Sarah… God was being gracious to him by reproving him through a dream.
Does that not reveal the tender heart of God ? God is always willing to seek those who are lost… and is ever willing to save.
He sends His Holy Spirit into the world to .. “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8) because it is the desire of His heart that none “should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
This sin of Abraham is a sad blotch on his record. Not only did it affect him, but his sin affected Abimelech and his people ( who represent the non-faith community) .
In verse 9 Abimelech accuses Abraham “What have you done to us? How have I offended you that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.”
Abimelech was right to accuse Abraham. We see this accusation echoed in Romans 2:24. “ For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”
When we do not live out our faith .. when we are not faith-ful in our expression of God's truth, we are held accountable for the unsaved not knowing the truth .. and in that we become responsible for their sin !
Abimelech was under God’s curse… there was only one way to be free !
Through faith !
Abraham prayed to God for Abimelech and God answered his prayer.
God has given the keys of His kingdom to Abraham’s children .. the children of faith.
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt.16:19)
It is also interesting to note that after Abraham spoke the truth … then Abimelech gave gifts to Abraham. Even though ‘knowledge’ itself can never possess the things of faith, when faith is true - then knowledge can strengthen and encourage faith.
Knowledge must always be submissive to the things of faith. How often do we see science have to bow its head because what it proclaimed as truth at one time is discovered to be in error.
God’s Truth and our Faith in Him will never fail us - let us be FAITHFUL !!