“Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech.” Genesis 20:17
Abraham, a patriarch, prophet and prayer warrior was not immune from the fear of man. This form of fear was a particular weakness of his life. Fear of God is the only cure for it. Praying for a man he had wronged, restored health to Abimelech, but it strengthened faith in Abraham.
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the capacity to stand in the presence of fear and overcome it. Prayer invites The Presence of God to into any fearful crisis or confrontation. Abraham was a man of God who was in need of prayer. When he prayed, he stood firm. When he did not pray, he strayed.
Fear of man was not a sudden fright that came upon Abraham like a bump in the night. This kind of fear occupied his thoughts day and night. He was always planning and scheming to find a painless path through life to avoid any messy confrontations.
When it came to his “sister” Sarah, Abraham had convinced himself that a half-truth was not a lie. Full of the fear of man, Abraham tried to avoid a bump in the road, by kicking his wife off the bus. Like a moth to a flame, Abraham’s prayerless fear invited The Lord to step in to put the fear of God in him.
Passing his wife off as his sister, and handing her over to become Abimelech’s bride invited God’s intervention. Sin always does. Abraham’s fear blinded him to his sinful behavior, but sin is never hidden from God’s eyes. The innocent Abimelech appealed to God for mercy. He received it.
“Lord, will you slay a nation, even though blameless?...In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Genesis 20:4-5
Abraham’s private, personal fear became a public scandal. All sin eventually does. God required Abimelech to restore Sarah back to her husband, and He called Abraham to intercede for the healing of Abimelech’s family.Private sin always leads to public humiliation, and some form of restitution. Sin has a price.
“Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.” Genesis 20:7
By calling Abraham to intercede for a man he had wronged, God called Abraham back to Himself. Abraham’s fear of God increased when was standing in The Presence of God. When he stood face to face with an intimidating man, Abraham’s thoughts blinded him to Almighty God standing with him. This only happens EVERY TIME.
“I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she actually is my sister, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife…when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you will show to me…say of me, ‘He is my brother.” Genesis 20:11-13
Fear of man intimidated a God-ordained prophet like Abraham into a major lapse of discernment. Two words were at the heart of Abraham’s problem. “I thought.” Abraham’s thoughts had a way of racing through his mind and filling his heart with fear. Can I get a witness?
Prayerless thoughts always do this. Thinking about man is a poor substitute for praying to God. One leads to intimidation by man. The other leads to intimacy with God.
Another glimpse into Abraham’s fear is found in his powers of rationalization. Even though he was forced to admit he was wrong publicly, Abraham couldn’t resist defending himself on a technicality. In making a fine point. Abraham missed the point. Rationalization isn’t repentance. It is flirting with a flame.
“Besides, she actually is my sister…” v. 12
It is this kind of stinking thinking that got Abraham in trouble in the first place. He may have been sorry for getting caught, but he hadn’t repented of what he had done. Abraham remained a work in progress. So are we all.
NOTE TO SELF: Your faith will be strengthened by praying your way through crises and confrontations, real or imagined. Your fear increases by thinking your way through them. Stop thinking and start praying. Thinking focuses on what man can do to you. Praying magnifies God who is with you. Prayer magnifies your faith, and shrinks your fear. Place your fear in God’s hands. He transforms it into faith. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
“A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.” Leonard Ravenhill