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The Ungodly Knew it was Sin

Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 20

Two times, while travelling, Abraham tried to pass off his wife Sarah as his sister. What I find interesting is that at least the second time, he and Sarah would have been old. Ishmael was already born and God had promised that the son of the promise would be born in the coming year. Sarah would have been close to ninety years old and still Abraham was worried that Abimelech, the king of where they were staying, would want her for his wife and kill Abraham to get her. She must have been a beauty, even at that age!

Abimelech did want Sarah and brought her into his harem. One question is, why in the world did Abraham allow this to happen? Was Sarah so unimportant to him that he didn’t fight for her?

What surprises me, though, is that when Abimelech realizes that Sarah is a married woman, he is horrified and chastises Abraham severely:
“What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done.” Genesis 20:9 NIV
When he returns Sarah to her husband, he gives Abraham 25 pounds (11.5 kg) of silver and says to Sarah, “This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.” Genesis 20:16b NIV

He wasn’t considered a righteous man, he was not a follower of Yahweh, but he knew that sleeping with another man’s wife was wrong. This puzzles me. How did he know? Earlier, when Pharaoh had done the same thing, he also knew it was wrong. Both kings seem to have been committed to avoid such sin. This was long before God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, one of which is, “Do not commit adultery.”

Paul in Romans 1 writes:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 NIV
Paul goes on to clarify that though all men knew the truth of what is right and wrong, they ignored God and became enthralled with sexual impurity.

That describes me at more than one period of my life. I knew it was wrong because I had grown up immersed in God’s Word and lived most of my adult life so immersed and yet it seemed so right, so natural, so filling. I have chosen to obey God and live a life of sexual purity, but I confess that I find it hard to understand why it’s so important. Yet these ancient kings KNEW. They had no doubt. God’s truth was planted in their hearts, though they were not his followers. How far our culture has gone from God in this age!


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