THE LORD VISITED SARAH
Genesis 20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. 18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.
Genesis 21:1 ¶ And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
The uncircumcised Philistine, Abimelech, (a picture of the worldly, religious mind), is determined to enter into Sarah, (a picture of the new covenant of grace), like so many religionists, unwilling to mortify the fleshly nature, think to enter into salvation by their own merit. Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Salvation most definitely is unto good works, but it is never of good works! Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Therefore the Lord had closed up every womb within the household of Abimelech to make this point: Salvation – being born again – is of the Lord! Then the next verses state that it was God’s visiting of Sarah that made her 90 year old barren, and now dead womb, to bring forth the promised seed – Isaac.
Not one single soul has ever become a Christian, except by the will and power of the Lord God! John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
The sinner, being dead in trespasses and sin, (Ephesians 2:1), cannot will to do anything. No dead man can produce action or appetite! Neither can the sinner will to do anything until God gives him life! Psalm 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,.. For the resurrected, formerly dead sinner, can only work out of himself that which the Lord God has worked in him! Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Abimelech, the uncircumcised Philistine king, prayed to God. And he told the Lord that he had a heart of integrity. For he had been granted no repentance, and therefore had no consciousness of sin! So he thought there was no cause for punishment for him! Genesis 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
And how many religious persons in this age believe themselves to be without cause for punishment, as they imagine their heart to be pure due to some ‘good work’ that they think to have done? Those religious works that they imagine to be “wonderful,” are to God, works of iniquity! Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. A lot of souls shall drop off the benches and pews of America’s churches into everlasting destruction!
And one farther evidence that this praying Philistine had not a godly repentance was that he put all blame upon Abraham and Sarah! But in his doing so we are allowed to hear the explanation from the mouth and heart of Abraham as to why he tells that Sarah is his sister. He had done so to Pharaoh in Genesis chapter twelve. And Isaac would do so in Genesis chapter twenty six.
Here is Abraham’s explanation to Abimelech: Genesis 20:11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. 12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
What we must keep in mind is that Elijah only thought himself to be the last believer on earth, but the Lord said that he had seven thousand more believers at that time. (See 1 Kings 19:18). But Abraham really was the only one! Hebrews 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
Down through the centuries unkind, legalistic and judgmental writers have criticized Abraham for having sinful fear in stating that Sarah was his sister. But these scoffers are then more in league with Abimelech than with Abraham! For Abraham clearly states that this truth of being Sarah’s brother was set forth because no one else had the fear of the Lord in their hearts! And he was right! Therefore it was not sinful fear in his heart, but the lack of a proper fear of God in Abimelech’s heart which was the issue!
And we should especially take notice that Abraham states this understanding between himself and Sarah took place within the effectual call of God to his heart at the time of God commanding him to wander from his father’s house. Therefore since we know that it was by faith that Abraham left Haran to follow God, it was just as much God’s will for them to come to this agreement! It was God’s way of protection for his ‘friend’ Abraham, in a world of darkness and danger!
And in both recorded instances the Lord God delivered Abraham and Sarah, without rebuke, and with showering upon them lavish gifts and great riches! See Genesis 12:16, and 20:14-16. (Take note that in that 20:15 verse, Abraham obtains ‘legal’ citizenship for the first time in the land the Lord promised him and his seed!)
We are still, in our day, commanded not to cast that which is holy to the dogs, nor give pearls to swine! (Matthew 7:6) Dogs and swine cannot hear the sounds given only for the sheep! John 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
We must notice the phrase in Genesis 21:1, … and the LORD did. For it was just as much the Lord who opened Sarah’s womb as it was He who closed all the wombs of Abimelech’s household! Of course the conception of Sarah was not without the sanctified means God chose to use! This was God’s way to “preform” it. And not at the exclusion of either Abraham’s faith or body! Romans 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
For there are no births, either physical or spiritual without the Lord’s granting the time of life. Genesis 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. (See also 2 Kings 4:16.)
For there are the set times when the Lord’s presence brings forth the births of mankind! Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Psalm 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
He alone has determined, not only that each should be born, but also what time and place, so that everyone is born in the best place and at the best time to seek the Lord. Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
And of course, all this is to reveal somewhat of the mystery of the Incarnation – God manifest in the flesh! 1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, ..
We have a glimpse of how the Lord God made the first man as he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7), as we read of both Elijah and Elisha raising a dead child. 1 Kings 17:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. 22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
2 Kings 4:34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
This was very intimate! It was very personal! And that God who stretched himself ver Adam structured his disciples as to the priorities of spiritual life. Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Religionists get excited about the gifts of the Spirit. They all want power to accomplish supernatural matters. But the Lord said that the more precious thing to God, and therefore should be to them, is the intimacy in the quickening of a soul into spiritual life by the Spirit!
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. That Hebrew word, moved is the same word fluttereth in Deuteronomy 32:11. And as the eagle fluttereth over her young in the nest, stirring up air currents, so the Holy Spirit, like the wind, brings the breath of life into the dead sinner! John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
And as the Spirit is always resent to effect life within the believer, resurrecting him from the death in trespasses and sin, so the Lord instructed Abraham and Sarah that he would be present at Isaac’s time of life! Genesis 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. … 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
For it is only by his life that we have life! John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; John 14:19 …because I live, ye shall live also. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Pastor Gene Breed
January 16, 2016