Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 20. Let us begin by reading Genesis 20:1-7:
And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 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 God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
I will stop reading there. The Lord began this chapter by telling us that Abraham “journeyed from thence toward the south country.” Abraham journeyed from the location where he had set up his tent. It said in Genesis 18:1:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
God appeared to him and told him of His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and it was there that Abraham interceded on behalf of Lot, the righteous in the city Sodom. We read in Genesis 19:27-28:
And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before JEHOVAH: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
It was after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that Abraham began to journey. God does not give us all the details concerning the reason why he journeyed or the situation after Sodom’s destruction. Did Abraham seek out Lot? I am sure he would have because he had several servants working for him, so he could have sent servants to search the land once the fire had gone out and the smoke had dissipated. Out of love and concern for his nephew Lot and his family, he would want to know what had happened to them. After all, he had diligently interceded on Lot’s behalf and for the sake of any righteous within the city of Sodom. So, certainly, it would have been in Abraham’s mind: “What happened to my nephew Lot?”
But, again, God does not give us the details. We wonder about it and I am sure Abraham would have searched for him. This is speculation, but he probably found Lot dwelling in the mountains. Or, perhaps, Lot looked down and saw some of Abraham’s servants searching the area that had been destroyed. Again, this is speculation, but it is reasonable speculation to think that Abraham would have done his best to find his nephew. Then, once assured that Lot had lived, and that God had answered his prayer, Abraham would have taken his journey. We do not know why he moved on. A major part of that area had been destroyed. For whatever reason, Abraham began to journey.
We should not think that this chapter is a continuation of the same spiritual picture of the time after Judgment Day. Once the fire and brimstone had fallen, God was teaching us of events that would take place after May 21, 2011 regarding the two daughters’ plan to preserve seed to their father, but the history of the Old Testament and the saints of God must continue at some point, so we cannot say that everything we read later in Genesis and Exodus represents the time after Judgment Day has begun. God begins new spiritual pictures or He uses other historical parables that will instruct us in spiritual truth. This is what is happening in Genesis, chapter 20.
So, again, it says in Genesis 20:1:
And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
He has pulled up stakes to move. His tent was mobile, and he had many servants to do the work of packing everything on pack animals and carriages and they began to move, once again. What a life for an old man. Abraham was about to turn 100 years old and Sarah was probably expecting a child because God had said in the prior chapter that she would have the promised son at the set time in the next year. Time had passed and there had been the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We know that Sodom was destroyed in the year 2068 B.C. and Isaac would be born in 2067 B.C., so this journey is being undertaken somewhere in that time range; we do not know the exact date, but we know it was in the period of 2068 or 2067 B.C. Sarah was about to be 90 years old and she was expecting a child. It may have been only a month or two since she became pregnant, so maybe that was a good time to take their journey. They were journeying, once again, and this had been the lifestyle of Abraham since he entered the land of Canaan. Remember, he was 75 years old when he came out of the land of the Chaldees. He entered the land of Canaan as God had commanded him to do and he faithfully obeyed. Ever since that time, he had been sojourning, going from one place to the another. It said in Genesis 12:1-6:
Now JEHVOAH had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as JEHOVAH had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
At this point, he was known as Abram because he had not received his new name of Abraham yet. He took his journey out of his home land and he went into the land of Canaan at age 75. Remember what God said about all the traveling Abraham did. It says in the New Testament in Hebrews 11:8-10:
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 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: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Then it says in Hebrews 11:13-16:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Here, God is telling us about the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their lifetimes span quite a long period in history. God is telling us they all dwelled in tabernacles or tents. We wonder why. They were rich men. God blessed them. Abraham was rich at the time of Genesis 20. He did not have to pull up stakes and move on; he could have purchased a large piece of land and set down roots. He could have stayed there and built a large farm or ranch, as many other rich men of his time. But God never told him to do so and, therefore, he followed the leading of God from the beginning after coming out his birth land of Haran and entering the land of Canaan. It was the Lord’s plan for him not to “settle down” in an established residence or build something in this world. It was God’s plan that Abraham would go from once place to another; he went from the land of Mamre to Gerar in the land of the Philistines, and so forth. It was God’s plan for Isaac to do the same thing and for Jacob to follow that pattern. They would set up their tents and stay a little while, and their animals would graze upon the land and, yet, there would come a time when God would have them move, once again.
God caused Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to continue sojourning because they are an historical picture of God’s people that live in this world only for a time. Our citizenship and true home is not here. When God saves us and takes us out of the kingdom of darkness and translates us into His kingdom of light, we are no longer a citizen of this world. We are not of the world any longer, but we become a stranger and pilgrim. Our entire life on this earth after the point of salvation is one in which we are sojourning or “passing through” this world. We are not going to make this world our home.
The unsaved people of the world try to make this world their home and put down stakes in this world to establish deep roots that they think are immovable, but their lives are only temporal. Whatever they build will end up being destroyed or seeing corruption. There is nothing lasting or enduring in the things man occupies himself with in this world. They do not understand why the children of God do not love the things of this world, but God has given us a heart to love Him rather than the things of the world. Of course, the unsaved love this world deeply and all they would wish for is in this world and, yet, the world itself will soon be taken away from them. So, they can only give a false appearance that one can have any lasting inheritance in this life and “live happily ever after.” Has there ever been a bigger lie than that phrase of “living happily ever after”? It comes right out of the deceitful heart of man and no one has done it, because they have all died. How do you live happily ever after if you have died and your life has come to an end? There is no “happily ever after” for them. There was a short, temporal season of physical existence in which there were all kinds of trouble. We read in the Book of Job, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” They have heartaches and their bodies end up seeing physical corruption; there are diseases and loss of hearing or loss of sight and, finally, they die. Where is the “happily ever after”? It is not just poor people this happens to, but it is also the rich people and all the people in between. There are no winners, and none are triumphant in the end, regarding the unsaved people of the earth. They are all going to lose in the end. It also says in Job, “that the triumphing of the wicked is short,” and it appears for a short time that they have won, because they seem to have everything a person could want – they have a beautiful home, family and money in the bank. They have beautiful cars and maybe a yacht.
But check back with them in a few decades (more or less), and you are going to find that the happy home is happy no more. Tragedy has come. Death has come to the house. Misery has come. You know, the world does not handle these things too well – they try to brush it aside as quickly as possible and get back to the smiles and self- deception that everything is wonderful and there may be a “happily ever after” for their children, but the children will not live “happily ever after” either in this world. It is impossible. This life is full of tears and misery and there are all kinds of sorrows of one sort or another for rebels and sinners against God.
God knows this full well, and He warns His people about becoming attached to the things of this life: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Why? “…the world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” If you are attached to it and love it so dearly, when the things of this world pass away, your heart is crushed and broken. Again, there is just sorrow here in this world. It is only in eternal salvation in the new heaven and new earth that there will be no more death, sorrow or tears, and where we can “live happily ever after.” That phrase really belongs to God’s elect. Only an elect child of God will “live happily ever after.”
I do not know how I came to be talking about “happily ever after,” because it is not a phrase we find in the Bible, but God does speak of abundant, eternal blessings for evermore, so I guess that would qualify as “happily ever after.”
But, again, God is using Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a picture of all His people as they are passing through this world. It says in 1Peter 1:17:
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
That is, if God has saved you and He is now your spiritual Father, then you are to “pass the time of your sojourning” in fear. It is a little period of time that we are sojourning in this world. It is a short, temporal period of time. Remember how God speaks of our lives in this world in 2Corinthians 4:16-18:
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
To be “temporal” means that it is just a little while in time. When something is temporal, it means there is a time limit attached to it. Of course, for people of the world, their only way of comparison is to compare themselves among themselves, which God warns about. So the people of the world compares themselves at 30, 40 or 50 with other people that are 80, 90 or 100 and they say, “I am going to live to be 90 or 100.” It is one tiny, finite creature of time comparing himself to another tiny, finite creature of time. They think that a time span going for 50 or 60 years is enormous, but it is not. It is just one tiny speck.
The whole time of earth’s history, which is over 13,000 years, is not even a little speck when compared to the eternity to come, so what is 50, 60 or 70 years as people compare their ages to the ages of others? It is absolutely nothing! It is a temporal, short moment in time.
Lord willing, when we get together in our next Bible study, we are going to continue to look at Genesis, chapter 20.