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Déjà vu All Over Again

Mosaic Boston

Religion & Spirituality

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This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston in our neighborhood churches or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com.

Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan. We're the pastors here at Mosaic along with Pastor Shane and Pastor Andy. And if you're new or visiting we'd love to connect with you. We do that through the connection card in the worship guide. The physical one or you can also get the digital version in our app or on our website. And if you fill it out we'll be sure to get in touch with you over the course of the week. Happy summer. And happy bring an iced beverage to church day. If you see my last station back there I've got 18 water bottles back there. Stay hydrated my friends. Stay hydrated. Oh, that said would you please pray with me with the preaching of God's Holy Word. Heavenly Father we thank you that you are good God and you are a great God. Although our sins, our rebellion, our transgressions deserve punishment. Instead, you poured out that punishment upon your Son Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God, the Son of God. Jesus on the cross, you got what we deserved so that you could offer to us what you earned.

We thank you for the gift of salvation. We thank you for the gift of grace that just doesn't make any sense. Why would you do that? You did that because you are God who is love. We thank you for the Holy Scriptures. We thank you for the story and the example of Abraham that often he was not a hero, he was actually an anti hero. And yet you came in and you worked with him and he poured out your love upon him and you kept sculpting him, kept molding him, kept shaping and sanctifying him and I pray that you do the same with us.

If there are habitual sins in our lives. If there is recidivism in our lives where we fall back into patterns of sin I pray today pull us out by your grace and give us a vision for our lives to be people who are a blessing to many. Bless our time the holy word. Holy Spirit we welcome you into the space. We love you and we love your presence. We pray that you today convict us and encourage us where we need to be encouraged. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

We are in a sermon series. Going through parts of the book of Genesis. We're calling it Jesus in Genesis. And we're in particular looking at the story of Abraham and how our story relates to his story and more importantly how his story and our story points to the story of Jesus Christ and our need for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The title of the sermon today is Déjà vu All Over Again. And we see Abraham committing his greatest sin that he's ever committed. And he does it again. In chapter 19 we saw the story of God's punishment coming down on Sodom and Gomorrah. God pulls through the angels Lot out and ends the story in a very hopeless situation. So now we're done with Lot and we'll hear nothing more of him. And after the promise that God made in chapter 18, where Jesus Christ as a Kristoff and he shows up.

He's flanked with angels. And he comes to Abraham and Sarah and promises that in a year you will have the promised son. You've been waiting for over two decades. Probably 25 years but next year he's coming. And what we're expecting after chapter 19, is that in chapter 20 Isaac is born. Why do we expect that? We expect that because Abraham has been winning. He's been growing in his faith. God called him in chapter 12. He said I'm going to bless you, I'm going to make your name great, I'm going to bless those who bless you. And I'm going to bless the nation's through you Abraham. He follows God and we see him early on his walk with the Lord was serpentine. It was wandering. Kind of like Storrow Drive. Just wavering back and forth. And what we see with Abraham is now he's beginning to string wins together.

We see that beginning with Lot and goes to his nephew Lot and he gives him a pic of the land generously. And then after Lot is taken into captivity by a coalition of kings, Abraham the great warrior gets his 318 trained men and they together go to war to save Lot and he comes out victorious. He's recognized by Melchizedek as a man of God. He resists temptation. When the king of Sodom offers him financial profit, the Lord appeared to him twice to reaffirm and elaborate the covenant. And God said here's a sign of the covenant. You need to circumcise yourself. And Abraham in his '90s probably his greatest act of faith promptly obeys, circumcised himself with a flint knife and does the same to 318 trained men. You see just his faith guides everything that he does. Win after win after win after win and apparently he got tired of all that winning. So after Abraham wins, now Abraham sins.

And in chapter 20, Abraham takes his 90-year old wife. He's 100. He takes his 90-year old wife and passes her off to King Abimelech. And she's taken into his harem. He pimps off his 90-year old wife. Apparent grandma was really good looking. I don't know what it was. A different oxygen, different food levels, no GMO, Pilates. I have no idea. But apparently at 90 she was still smoking hot and King Abimelech takes her into his hands. So we'll get into that.

The worst part is. The worst part that as I sat down and I'm like chapter 20. I'm writing this sermon. I'm crestfallen. I'm like, "Oh, no. Not again." The worst part of this whole situation is he's done this before. He pimped off his wife who was a little younger to the king of Egypt back in chapter 12. And God intervened and God saved him. And now he does the same thing again. Big lesson for us is dear Christian sin clings so closely. And time with the Lord does not make you impervious to sin. It doesn't make you impervious to falling back into old patterns of sin. Into tragic recidivism where you relapse. The point of the whole text is Abraham's a sinner saved by grace. Still remains a sinner. He's a saint, he was a sinner and a sinner who's a saint. So never lose sight dear Christian. That we have to be aware of sin and that we are to fight the good fight of faith.

We'll do the same thing we've done in the past weeks. We're going to walk through the text verse by verse. But three big sections. Three points to frame up our time. Point one is Abimelech restrained. Second is Abraham rebuked and third is Abimelech restored. First Abimelech restrained. Genesis 20:1. And from there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur. And he sojourned into Gerar. So Abraham was called by God to go to the land of Canaan. That's the promised land. The first time he sinned against his wife and against God, he went from the promised land to Egypt. Now he goes from the promised land to Kadesh and Shur into Gerar. He's traveling from the extremely southern point of Palestine. Shur was on the border of Egypt. And he visits the royal city of Gerar which is just above the Gulf of Suez on the way to Egypt. Suez we've heard recently in the news. The Suez Canal. That's where the container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. This is the general vicinity where Abraham goes. It's hostile territory.

We're not told why he goes. Perhaps he went because there was famine in the land or perhaps he went because he was afraid of God who judged Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham watched him judge Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps he was afraid of retaliation from the neighbors of Sodom and Gomorrah, that they will retaliate against Abraham in order to retaliate against God or perhaps he was bitter. Later on the text he says God made me go from my hometown to land of Canaan. There's a bitterness. Perhaps it's because he expected that when he interceded for Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah that God would answer him.

And he didn't get what he wanted from God. Perhaps he's... But we're not sure. So now we see him going into hostile territory with his flocks, with his herds, with the people he has with him. He's a chieftain. There's over 300 people with him. So it's a huge caravan. And he's going into hostile territory as a believer. These are different people, they worship different gods. It's kind of moving to Boston from somewhere where it's acceptable to be a Christian. You move up to Boston and you keep your bumper stickers on your car.

You keep the little fish on your car. Why do you keep the fish on your car? Because you're a Christian. That's why. Why'd you put the fish in your car in the first place? Because back in Mississippi when Christian police officers pull you over, they're going to let you go. You're a Christian. Up here no one cares. I remember when Pastor Shane moved up here, he had a little Toyota Camry. And he had a little Jesus fish on the back of his car. And after an evening service, we show up this car and the back windshield was just mis shattered. Someone threw a brick through the back of his car. Why? I don't know. Jesus fish maybe. So if you've got Jesus fish on your car, man congratulations. You are a very bold Christian. And now you have to drive like a hostile territory. He goes there. He knows that he is not like these people. That he believes unlike these people. These are enemies of Israel.

We'll learn later on. The Philistines come from this general land. So what happens? Well, Genesis 20:2. Abraham said of Sarah his wife. So now people are asking, "Hey Abraham. Who's that woman next to you? She's apparently very good looking." And the tradition of that land was the king could take any unmarried woman into his harem or the king could kill any husband of the married woman to take her into his harem. So that's why Abraham said of his wife Sarah. She is my sister. And Abimelech King of Gerar sent and took Sarah. He takes Sarah the wife of Abraham.

First thing Abraham does is exactly the same thing he did 30 years ago. Why? What's he motivated by? Motivated by fear. Fear for his life. And he gives up his dear wife Sarah. Decades they've been married. Gives her up to a King Abimelech into his harem. Now I've been married by God's grace and my wife Tanya. It's going to be 15 years this week. Someone came up to me. Praise... Yea, clap for her. Good job. Thanks, Edgar. And I've made some faux pas. Some mea culpa. Some my bads in my life in my marriage. I have some bad ones. The first one I think is first year married. I forgot it was her birthday. I just forgot her birthday. Show up at home, she's dressed up, makeup on. It's dinner on the table. Beautiful. And I'm like, "What's the occasion? Of course I know. Well, I forgot your present in the car."

So I run down. And I go to the nearest store that was next our apartment building. It was TJ Maxx or Marshalls. And I went to the first thing I could find. And it was a little wooden bucket with soap stuff. And some country CDs. So that's what I grabbed for. I was like, "You're from Ukraine. You like country music." No, she did not. That was a... So still to this day I'm recovering. I've made some bad mistakes in my marriage. But I've never pimped off my wife. Praise God. And the lesson here gentlemen is don't pimp off your wife. That's number one. Number two, is Abraham the great father of the faith does this. And he does it twice. And what's the lesson here? The lesson here is under pressure, under stress, under anxiety. When motivated by fear, it's so easy to relapse the former sins. It's so easy to go back to old patterns of life. So the question for us today is what sins from your past are you prone to return to? Especially when under stress. And when are you prone to return to them?

And you need to know that. You need to reverse engineer your walk with the Lord and you need to know yourself and when you're tempted so that you do not make provision for the flesh. Don't put yourself in positions where your flesh takes over. And instead of walking by the spear you walk by flesh. Speaking of harems. The custom of the land. You have power, you have money, you can make yourself a harem. A harem is just a group of women that you sleep with. Your concubines. Perhaps you don't have the money and the power and the opportunity to build yourself a harem. But we live in a day and age when people are building not physical harems but definitely digital ones. And Jesus spoke right into that. And he said whoever looks upon a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Abimelech committed the sin of adultery when he just looked at another man's wife. And so we see Abraham sinned and we see Abimelech sins and there's a lesson for us that we are to fight our sin and protect in particular sexual sin. So the question is what's going to happen? Who will protect Sarah from being defiled? Because God promised that Sarah is going to have a child with Abraham.

God promised a unilateral covenant that he's not going to break his word. That's exactly what we see God coming to the rescue. This is verse three. But God. I love that phrase because that's the same phrase that's used in Ephesians when it says that you are dead in your sins and your trespasses. All of us are on our way to hell but God intervenes but God sent his Son. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you've taken for she is a man's wife. Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me she is my sister and she herself said he is my brother. In the integrity of my heart. And the innocence of my hands I have done this.

God speaks, God intervenes. Speaks to him in a dream. Does God still speak in dreams? Yeah, he does. And sometimes to you, sometimes to your loved ones. This week I was sitting at home in my basement. It was 11:00 PM and I smell something burning. And I run around. I ran upstairs and make sure it's nothing upstairs. And then I ran back downstairs and one of my outlets was on fire. I had to pull out a plug and sparks were flying. I was like, "Whoa, that was weird." The next day my daughter Elizabeth wakes up and says to my wife, "Hey, Mom. I had a dream that our basement set on fire." Sounds trippy. She had no idea.

And I was like, "Did we make it on alive?" She said yeah. I was like, "All right. Praise God." It's just once a month. So sometimes God speaks in prophetic dreams. Sometimes it's just to reaffirm yes, I'm with you. Yes, I'm here to protect you. Sometimes it encourage, sometimes is to sanctify. So God speaks to an unbeliever through a dream. Can God speak to unbelievers? Yeah. God can do whatever he want with whomever he wants. He sovereign speaks to this guy in a dream and says you're a dead man. The same God who set Sodom and Gomorrah on fire, judgment, fire, brimstone comes to King Abimelech who's definitely heard about what went on Sodom and Gomorrah. And he says you are a dead man. I'm going to kill you. Does God have the authority to take our life? Yeah. The God of the universe who gives us life can take it at any single moment. And God says that you're dead. Maybe you've taken another man's wife. Why? Because God cares about marriage. He cares about marriage a lot. Abimelech says I haven't approached her yet. And Abimelech says Lord, that's a great start. Lord, he knows that this is God and he speaks of innocence. He's like, "God, I'm innocent." Actually a relative term. He's sinful in other ways. But from this perspective, he's innocent. He did what he did without knowing the full story.

And Abimelech makes the same argument to God that Abraham made to God as He was interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah. He says will not the just God of the universe do what is right. And he's got a case. What he's really saying is, God I didn't deserve this. If anyone does deserve it, who is it? If anyone does deserve to get whacked for the situation that they're in, who deserves to get whacked? Abraham. God why aren't you coming after Abraham? Why are you coming after Sarah? Who also isn't a total victim. Apparently they played this con whenever they've when because that's what Abraham says later on the text.

I asked my wife. I was still talking about this text. And she's like, "You know what? I bet Sarah wanted to leave." I was like, "Why did you say that?" She's like, "Just imagine you have the option of being a princess. You were living in a tent. Now you get to live in a mansion. She's not completely innocent either. You get a black American Express Card. You get your hair's done and your nails done, your hair done and all that done like everyone's pampering. Who knows. But she went along with this plan." And what's fascinating about this text is Abimelech the pagan king is more righteous. Presented as more righteous in this text than the man of God.

In chapter 18, God said about Abraham. I've called him. He's mine. I've chosen him to be righteous, teach righteousness to his children. And we see the unbeliever behaving more moral than the believer. And that's often the case. Unbelievers are sometimes some of the most moral people just really, really good people. Generous people, caring people, loving people. And then on the flip side, it's the believers that are sometimes the most mischievous and the most sinful. You ever do business with a Christian? With an unbeliever, you got to sign one contract. With believers, two. At least two. Because of the Christian, when they became a Christian, they understand how wicked they are. That's what makes them a Christian. What makes you a Christian is I have sinned against God, I need to repent. It's really bad. Every Christian that you see is a really bad person. But the difference is they know they're a bad person.

Sometimes the moral people are very moral people to get away from God. Abimelech is the moral person in this text. At the end of the text, he's very generous but he never becomes a Christian. He never loves God. You can do a lot of good things. And you can be a very moral person and not be a believer not go to heaven because you are doing all the great things not for God but for self. Back to Abraham. What was motivating him? What motivated him to sin again? It might have been bitterness against God. It might have been just time has elapsed. It's been 30 years since chapter 12 and chapter 20. It might have been that he knows just how lavish God's grace is. Did Abraham deserve to be called by God? No. Did Abraham deserve to get a word from God? No. Did Abraham deserve for God to speak to him and show him the covenant? No, no, no, no. Did Abraham deserve for God to tell him I'm making a unilateral covenant with you even if you break your end of the bargain, I'm still going to hold up mine? He didn't deserve that.

Abraham also knew that God saved him once. I sinned you save me again. You also promised me that within a year I'm going to have a son. So clearly, you are going to work out your plan. And you might not need me in the process. This whole idea of I can sin because God will come to the rescue. This idea is called cheap grace. Where you say Jesus died on the cross for all my sins past, present and future. So why not continue to sin? God will forgive me. It's his job. I think part of that is going on in this idea of cheap grace. And yet God will forgive. Dear Christian, if you are in your sins. If you sin, God will forgive you if you repent of that sin. But it doesn't mean you won't bear the consequences of that sin. And it definitely doesn't mean that God won't discipline you like a loving father. Does God discipline Abraham in this text for this sin? Oh, yeah.

He publicly shames Abraham through Abimelech. And he publicly shames Abraham for 1,000s of years by including this text in the Bible. So we look at this guy like, "You're a loser. You're a loser twice." God does discipline. Look at Hebrews 12:5-11. Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline. If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the father of spirits and live.

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them. But he disciplines us for our good. That we may share his holiness. For he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant. But later, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Shows us that we're saved not by a morality. This is what the text shows us. But just by sheer grace. We're saved by sheer grace not because we're better. We're not Christians because we're better. We're Christians because we're saved, forgiven. And we're not saved because we're good. We're not forgiven because we're good. We're saved because God is good. That's really what this chapter is highlighting. That despite Abraham's sin, how great God's grace is to intervene and help him. God intervenes just like in chapter 12 showing you that God is the only hero of the story and of the book of Genesis of the whole Bible.

And God intervenes his work in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, right? And that's what God is doing. He's exposing sin in their marriage. He's exposing deception in their marriage. A lack of faith prior to the child coming. And this is important lesson that before you have a child, you need to know that whatever sin there is, you got to work through and repent of it and do the hard work because when children come, everything just gets magnified. It's just exponentially harder. Not only does your wife see your sin but the kids see your sin and oh, your sin then impacts your kids. And imagine Isaac wakes up and he says, "Abraham. Dad. Daddy, where's mommy?" And then Abraham's like, "Oh, long story. Hear I pimped her out to King Abimelech. You want cereal for breakfast." That would scar the kid for life.

So God is working on their marriage exposing the sin. So there's repentance prior to when the child comes. Verse six. God speaking to Abimelech. Then God said to him in the dream. Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart. And it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not let you touch her. Now then return the man's wife for he is a prophet so that he will pray for you. And you shall live but if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die. You and all who are hers. So I didn't touch her. You wanted to obviously. That's why you married her.

I don't let you consummate the marriage. So God here is sovereign even over sin. He's the one that keeps Abimelech from sinning and the part of the Lord's Prayer is Lord, lead us not into temptation. God I beg you please keep me from sin. Prevent me from sin. And God does that with Abimelech. And then God gives Abimelech a choice. You can either return her and live or if you don't, you'll die. And that's the same choice that God gives every single human being. Either repent and that's turning from sin and you will live. Repent and believe in Jesus Christ. You will live if not, you shall surely die. The decision is yours. If Sarah had stayed even one night with Abimelech, there would have always been a question of is Abraham Isaac's dad? And the other thing I want to point out is this is the first use of the word prophet in scripture. And which is very ironical though.

We're prophets messenger for God. And the first time the word prophet is used is in the context of the Prophet's sin. Showing that every single human prophet is fallible and sinful and it points to our need for a greater profit who's never sinned. And Abraham will pray for you. And at this point, Abimelech is got to be thinking what in the world? The guy sinned against me, lied to me. And now it turns out he's a prophet. And it turns out he needs to pray for me so that I can get saved. It doesn't make any sense. Just from a human perspective from a societal justice perspective. It doesn't make any sense. We'll leave that hanging until point three. Point two. Abraham rebuked. We see this in verse eight. So Abimelech rose early in the morning which is contrast to Lot when God warned him through the angels. Hey, get out of Sodom and Gomorrah because fire and brimstone coming. Lot slept on it woke up had breakfast. Finally, the angels had to drag him out.

Here Abimelech wakes up first thing in the morning. This what he does. Called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Abimelech fears God. His servants fear God. And yet they don't become believers at the end. They fear God like children fear a stranger. Please I don't know what you're going to do with me. I'm afraid of you. Abraham fears God as a child. There's a difference. There's a loving relationship. Here Abimelech never becomes a Christian. His father's never become Christian. They're just afraid of punishment. Whereas a real child of God fears disappointing God which obviously Abraham did in this situation. So he too needs to grow in fear of God. Verse nine. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you?" That's interesting. Because the very first time that the word sin is used in this chapter is from God talking to Abimelech. I kept you from sinning. So now Abimelech has an understanding of sin. That sin is transgressing God's law.

How have I sinned against you that you brought on me and my kingdom of great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done. And here what's fascinating is Abimelech preaches a sermon to Abraham. Abimelech gets everyone to get the whole court together. Puts Abraham in front. It just lights them up with the words that God gave them. So this is God speaking through Abimelech that you Abraham are a hypocrite. Your witness is terrible. Your witness to God. If God didn't intervene, all of us would have perished. You would have brought great sin on me and the kingdom. You did what ought not to have been done. And that's a fascinating term.

Abimelech how did you know what ought to be done? How do you know? God told him. Abraham, did you know what ought to be done? Yeah. So you sinned against me. And this is a fascinating idea. And every single person you ask that's alive and a christian or non Christian. You ask them is the world as it ought to be? And every single person says no, the world is not as ought to be. There's a lot of crime and there's a lot of evil and there's a lot of terrible things in the world. Corruption in the world. The world is not as it ought to be. Are you as you ought to be? No, I'm not. Well, how do you know? Because there's a moral law written on your heart. A moral compass. Is it calibrated perfectly? No, it takes God's word brought in to recalibrate Abimelech's moral compass here. Abimelech's concern isn't just for himself but for his kingdom. Which shows that he's a good ruler and again shows that he's a good person despite the norms of the day. Verse 10, Abimelech said to Abraham. What did you see that you did this thing? Abraham said I did it because I thought there is no fear of God at all in this place and they will kill me because of my wife. So Abimelech is like, "Why do you do this?" And Abraham says I did this because you guys don't fear God.

And here Abraham is the hypocrite of Matthew seven where Jesus says before you pull out the speck in your brother's eye, make sure there's not a log in your own eye. So Abraham to Abimelech. He's like, "I did this because you don't love God. You don't fear God. I did this because you have a toothpick in your eye." As Abraham has a two by four in one eye and a telephone pole in the other. He's just the biggest hypocrite of this whole text. You guys don't fear God. I just knew all of you guys are perverts and sickos and weirdos. You kill me to take my wife. So I decided to pimp her out before you did that. Just the logic is so warped. I knew you were so sinful. So I'm going to sin to prevent you sinning against me. And this just shows a lack of faith. He didn't go into the place on mission to share the gospel. He went to the place selfishly to preserve his wealth, kind of like Lot did when he went to Sodom. And apparently there was more fear of God in Abimelech than there was in Abraham. That's the contrast.

Verse 12. Besides. So now Abraham is... He knows he's caught. But he lawyers up and he just... Oh, what a text. Besides, he pathetically tries to make excuses. He's caught in sin and he's like, "Besides." He's like, "I knew you don't fear God. And besides she is indeed my sister. Cue the country music. She is indeed my sister." Like a pro. Why are you even...? Don't even bring that up. Why did you marry your sister? Oh, because it was easier. We didn't have to change last names. You're a pervert. Don't do that. This is pathetic. It's like you get caught in a sin and then you try to excuse it and the excuse is even worse than the sin. You get pulled over by a cop and the cop is like, "Why are you speeding? Why are you speeding?" And you say, "I swear to drunk. I'm not God. I'm not God." The first service nobody got it. Here, a couple...

The excuses are worse than the sin itself. Kids do this all the time. Where you get caught in a sin and then you just try to excuse it. That's what Abraham is doing. He knows he's caught. He's caught by daddy, he's caught by Abimelech. And then he starts saying this is my sister that I married her. My father though not the daughter of my mother and she became that way. And when God caused me to wander from my father's place that's it. That's the verse. God caused me to wander. When God forced me to wander. Remember last week I was talking about Lot. He got saved but he wasn't happy about it. It's like a high schooler getting saved before they start freshman year in college. And like, "Don't save me yet I want frat parties." That was Lot. That's Abraham. He wants to sin right now. And he's just caught in the sin. And then who does he blame for this whole situation? Oh, God caused it. Same thing Adam did. Adam sins, eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God comes looking for him. Adam where are you? And what does Adam say? The wife whom you gave me. She forced me. You see the past 70. You see he's trying to shirk his responsibility. Pass it off. There's bitterness toward God. And I said to her this is the kindness you must do to me at every place to which we come. Say of me he is my brother. And he's saying this is the kindness you got to do me. This is how you need to love me. That's what we're doing. Instead of saying how can I love my wife and sacrifice myself to protect her, he goes to his wife and says this is how you must love me and sacrifice yourself to protect me. He's just got everything back. And remember last week I was talking about Abraham was a great patriarch and Lot was a soytriarch. Where here Abraham, he's back to soytriarch land. He loses his spine. His faith spine and he goes to his wife and he says I want you to sacrifice yourself for me anti gospel.

What is the gospel? The gospel is Jesus Christ sacrificing himself for his bride. And then Jesus says to husbands. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Abraham is doing the opposite here and technically was Sarah his sister. Yes, technically yes. But it's not the full truth. She was also his wife. His sister wife. A half truth masquerading as the full truth is a full lie. And we need to know this. If you are going to grow in discernment and understanding of reality, you need to understand that this is the thing. People lie with facts. Just like Abraham lies with facts. People lie with statistics all the time. Your head could be in the oven and your feet in the freezer and on average, very comfortable temperature. You're not comfortable. Statistic lie all the time.

If you want to understand politics and you understand the news. You need to understand that people all the time spin one fact and present one fact which is half truth as the full truth. And they do it for click bait and they do it for eyeballs and they do it to persuade us with a narrative et cetera. So we as believers need to grow in discernment knowing that people lie all the time with facts. And this is what Abraham was doing. Abraham's behavior is pathetic, it's an excusable, it's deeply disappointing. He's here no different than Lot was in last chapter. Last chapter Lot takes the angels into his house, shows them hospitality and then an order protect himself and the angels, he passes off his daughters to the gang rapers. And he says, "Hey, take my virgin daughters instead of the angels." He's sacrificing his beloved ones for himself. Abraham's doing the same exact thing here. The worst part he's in the middle of his Christian life. It should be expected that he would do better but he suffers from what something that all of us suffer from is thing called spiritual amnesia.

And once again he falls on his face, fails in his faith. We see cowardice, selfishness, indifference. He stumbles badly. So will his son Isaac. Who will do the same thing. And then his great, great grandsons will sin as well Judah in particular. Abraham stumbled, so have I. And so have you. And this just shows the fallibility of the saints. And when you become a Christian, you're still a sinner. You're a sinner saint and a saint sinner. And the privileged position doesn't preclude him from failure. It doesn't preclude him from floundering. Genesis 20:14. Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen and male servants and female servants and gave them to Abraham and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, behold my land is before you, dwell where it pleases you. To Sarah he said, behold I've given your brother... Tremendous Abimelech. Tremendous little jab. Behold I've given your brother 1,000 pieces of silver. It's a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you before everyone you were vindicated.

What in the world just happened? Abraham sins against Abimelech. Abimelech is the one giving gifts to Abraham. This makes no sense. It should have been Abraham saying here Abimelech. I'm sorry. My bad man. Here's some animals. Here's some silver. Instead, Abimelech is the guy. He's like, "Take the animals, take any real estate you want. Here's 1,000 pieces of silver. Half a piece of silver was a monthly wage of an average worker. Half. So that means 1,000 pieces is working 167 years. That's like if our average salary is 40 grand. He's given him $7 million. Just incredible wealth. On top of that, this is what Abimelech is doing. This why I think he's a funny guy.

When you get married, the price of a bride was 50 shekels and he's like Abraham I'm not just going to give you 50 shekels. I'm going to give you the price of 20 brides. 1,000 shekels. It's boss right here. And part of what he's doing is, he's vindicating the honor of Sarah. He cares more about her reputation than Abraham did himself. So Abraham was a complete anti hero here. Abimelech takes God's warning seriously. Abraham doesn't. Story continues. These are point three. Abimelech restore. Genesis 20:17. Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. Apparently part of what happened with Abimelech was there was a curse put on all the people for Abraham's sin. And the wombs of the people were closed. And what's ironic is... Oh, and this is verse 18. For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

The irony is that in order to open Sarah's womb for the promised son, God closed the wombs of many other women. Here the Lord is Lord of Abraham's sin. He's the Lord of Abimelech's non sin and he's the lord of childbirth. And he's the Lord over everything. A question here that I want to wrestle with at the end in closing is why is this text here? Why is this here? It teaches the lesson that we all stumble, that we all fall. We have a proclivity to relapse into sin. But is that all it's teaching us? I think it is teaching us more. Because by the end of the chapter, despite Abraham's sin. Abraham is a better man for it. He's learned from this sin. In a sense he's been sanctified by his sin and he's been blessed through the process of the sin. So there's a deeper lesson going on here. And I think there's a doctrine here. A doctrine that's taught by theologians in their books not often taught out loud. Because of the danger of this doctrine being twisted to justify sin.

The doctrine's called O felix culpa in the Latin. O happy fault. And the phrase goes back to Gregory the Great in the end of the sixth century. And he got it from Augustine. And who got it from St. Paul in Romans seven. That yes, we wrestle with sin undeniably. But at the end, it brings glory to God because our sin... It turns our attention to Christ like nothing else does. Sin is undeniably ugly is disreputable, inexcusable, it's harmful. It's an abomination before God. But sin is also an occasion often to learn the absolute deepest lessons of our lives. Life changing discoveries. Now sometimes you know what true. You know a truth. I'm a sinner saved by grace. You know a truth. And then you sin.

You commit a sin that scares you. Why I did that. And you walk out of that sin by God's grace pulls you out. And you have such a deep awareness of sin like you never have a deeper fear of God. A deeper love for God and more zeal to fight the good fight of faith without the fall, without the sin of Adam and Eve, we would have never had the incarnation. We would have never had the death of Christ on the cross. The resurrection. We wouldn't have had some of the most incredible victories in the spiritual warfare. One theologian says there would certainly have been no display of some of the divine attributes of God had sin not been. They would have been conserved forever and the depth of the Godhead. So in a sense, we get to know more of God, the depth of God, the greatness of God because sin entered the world. And obviously, we can't use that as an excuse to excuse our sin, to justify our sin. God hates sin. Sin is wickedness.

But there is this undeniable reality. As John Owen says the greatest evil in the world is sin. And the greatest sin was the first. And yet Gregory feared not to cry O happy fault which found such a redeemer. And I think we can't deny that. Some of the greatest lesson we've ever learned in our lives about God, about the truth, the reality of good and of evil, of God and of Satan, we've done through the sin. Romans 7:14-25. This is the text that Augustine points to. For we know that the law is spiritual but I am of the flesh sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out.

For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies closer and for I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from the body of death. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The logic is irresistible. I'm wrestling with sin. St. Paul says he struggled with sin. If he was always finding himself flat on his face even near the end of his life mourning his great moral weakness then there's hope for me and there's hope for you. His sin pointed him to the glory of the Savior Christ. And Christ gets glory from saving us from sin. And then God uses our sin in the process of sanctification because we realize what it took for Jesus to turn my sin into sanctification. What did it take? It took the cross of Jesus Christ. There on the cross of Jesus Christ, Jesus got what we deserved. Punishment for our sin to extend to us where he earned. Kind of like Abraham and Abimelech.

Abraham sins, God goes to Abimelech and says you're a dead man. Abraham gets what he didn't deserve. And then Abimelech gives to Abraham... So Abimelech gets what he didn't deserve. Abimelech gives to Abraham what Abraham didn't deserve. It's a double imputation. This is what happens when we believe in Jesus Christ. That our sins get counted to him. His righteousness gets counted to us. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. Obviously the danger here is that we can sin as a way to get more grace and Romans six deals with that. And obviously that's false. In Romans two, St. Paul sternly condemns that idea that doing evil may bring about good.

Does God want us to be complacent with sin? Does God want us to sin? Of course not. But this chapter's showing that God is greater than our sin. Whatever the things in your path, God is greater than our sins and God can use those sins as a sculptor. We're all block of marble and Jesus is sitting here with a hammer and chisel and just chiseling away the sinful parts of who we are so that we can be more faithful to him. And the final analysis Abraham is a better man. He's prepared for the rest of his life to live a life of faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13. If we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. Did Abraham betray the covenant? Yes, he did. But God did not. Abraham gave God reason to withdraw the promise but God would not. Abraham dishonored the Lord's name, dishonored his word but the Lord not only forgave him not only rescued him but blessed him abundantly with land, with animals, restored his marriage and gave him $7 million. God used Abraham's misbehavior then to create peace and harmony with the people in the land. Now back to the question. Is this fair? Was this text fair?

Was it fair that Abimelech almost gets whacked for doing something that he didn't know he was doing? Oh, it's not fair. Is it fair that Abraham who commits the sin is called a prophet and has to intercede for the guy that didn't do anything wrong? Is that fair? No. Is it fair that Abimelech then gives the sinner Abraham $7 million, land and vehicles? Is that fair? No, it's not fair. Is it fair that Jesus Christ dies on the cross for my sin? That's not fair. It's not fair. God is greater than fair. That's not fair. But that's grace. And that's why grace makes us so... Makes God so great. Look, you might be a great person. Good person. You might be much better person than I am. You might recycle much better than I do. Sometimes a plastic bottle goes in the garbage in my house. It's terrible. You might drive an electric vehicle. You're much better than I am. You might waive the right flags and you might go the right parades and be an activist for the right things. You might be a great moral person.

Being a good person doesn't get you into heaven. It doesn't. That's the point with Abimelech. It's not about being a good person. It's about being a perfect person. And there's only one perfect person and that's Jesus Christ. And the only way we can be reconciled with God and have our sins forgiven is to believe in Jesus Christ and ask for his righteousness to be counted on to us. And that's the beauty of the gospel. That through faith in Jesus Christ, God sees Christ's righteousness in you. It's as if Jesus Christ is interceding for us. Abimelech needed Abraham to intercede for him but Abraham died. So who can intercede for us? There's one who can intercede for us who is not dead. He's sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. Isaiah 53:12. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the many and he shall divide the spoil with a strong because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors yet he bore the sin of many. It makes intercession for whom transgressors.

This one means to be a Christian you say God I am a transgressor. I have sinned. God I need you to intercede for me. Jesus intercede for me. And Hebrews 7:25. Consequently, he is able to save the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. If you are not a Christian we welcome you to become a Christian today by repenting of sin and believing in Jesus Christ. If you do that you are welcome and partake in communion. Today for homeless communion it's for repentant Christians. How do you become a Christian? You repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ is for repenting Christian. So if you're Christian, if you have repented of sin but are currently living in habitual sin, you know that our sins in your life that you have not repented of them you have not turned from then right now is the opportunity to repent of those sins and partake in Holy Communion. If you don't repent today, if you don't become a Christian today, we ask that you refrain from this part of the service per 1 Corinthians 11.

Right now we're going to pray for Holy Communion. If you haven't received a cup and you'd like to partake in communion, raise your hand and the ushers will pass them out as I'm praying. Let's pray. Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of grace. What a gift it is. We thank you that you are more than fair. That you are also a loving God, a gracious God, a merciful God, a God that's long suffering. A God that longs to bless us not just in our lives but to the third, the fourth, the 10th, the 10,000s generation that comes from us. Lord we thank you for the story of Abraham. We thank you that you didn't give up on him when he was faithless but you remained faithful. In our own lives Lord, we repent of sin and we ask you to forgive us for all those times we've been faithless. And fill us with the spirit to fight the good fight of faith. Continue to sanctify us Lord and make us people who not only wage war against sin but our daily victories over.

Lord Jesus we thank you for pouring out your blood and we thank you for your broken body. And I pray that you cleanse us through your blood and that you heal us through the brokenness of your body. I pray this in Christ's name. Amen. Take off the first piece of plastic, take the bread and then peel off the second piece of plastic which opens up the cup. And the night Jesus Christ was betrayed he took the bread and after breaking he said this is my body broken for you. Take eat and do this remembrance of me. Then proceeded to take the cup. And he said this cup is the cup of new covenant of my blood was poured out for the sins of many. Take drink and do this in remembrance of me. Lord Jesus we thank you for your intercession on our behalf as you sit the right hand of the throne of God the Father. We thank you not just for forgiveness of sin but that you use even our past sins to shape us and sanctify us and to sculpt us into the people that you have created us to be.

I pray Lord Jesus that you send us the Holy Spirit and fill us and empower us. Give us the wisdom and the power and the strength to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ and use us here in the city to share the gospel with many so that many are saved. Draw the elect into your kingdom. And please use us in the process. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


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