Daily Word

Seriousness of sin | Genesis 20:8-18

8 Abimelech got up early the next morning and quickly called all his servants together. When he told them what had happened, his men were terrified. 9 Then Abimelech called for Abraham. “What have you done to us?” he demanded. “What crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you have done! 10 Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?”

11 Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’ 12 And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her. 13 When God called me to leave my father’s home and to travel from place to place, I told her, ‘Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.’”

14 Then Abimelech took some of his sheep and goats, cattle, and male and female servants, and he presented them to Abraham. He also returned his wife, Sarah, to him. 15 Then Abimelech said, “Look over my land and choose any place where you would like to live.” 16 And he said to Sarah, “Look, I am giving your ‘brother’ 1,000 pieces of silver in the presence of all these witnesses. This is to compensate you for any wrong I may have done to you. This will settle any claim against me, and your reputation is cleared.”

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, so they could have children. 18 For the Lord had caused all the women to be infertile because of what happened with Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

Genesis 20:8-18 (NLT)

Immediate obedience

Interesting that the immediate obedience Abraham is praised for, Abimelech the pagan king of the land demonstrates. The situation had to be going on for at least 3 months to maybe a year since it would take that time to notice their women could not become pregnant. They were probably wondering what was causing this.

During this time, as we saw in verse 6, God kept Abimelech from violating Sarah. As soon as he is called out by the Lord, he takes immediate action to address the situation. He believed in and feared the Word of the Lord.

Seriousness of sin

Sin is sin – regardless of our understanding. Just like we can break laws that we are not aware of and still be punished (like speeding and not seeing the speed limit sign), so ignorance is not an excuse for sin. God sets the rules (for our good) and we follow them. If we don’t, there are consequences and judgment. Any sin is a violation of God’s law and His holiness.

So Abimelech and his people suffered barrenness among the women. And God was prepared to take out Abimelech (“you are a dead man”, verse 3). God gave him a warning and Abimilech obeyed since he understood the seriousness of the sin. He also went above and beyond to repent. He not only gave Sarah back, he heaped blessing on Abraham and paid compensation to settle any claim and to clear Sarah.

Abraham’s response

What is almost comical is that this pagan king reams out righteous Abraham for the way he treated him. And in the midst of being”caught red-handed”, Abraham still offers excuses! And worse, he seems to blame God. The NASB of verse 13 reads, “when God caused me to wander from my father’s house”. “This was an indirect way of blaming God for the problem.” (enduringword.com) Wesley adds, “It may be that God denied Abraham and Sarah the blessing of children so long to punish them for this sinful compact they had made to deny one another [verse 13]: if they will not own their marriage, why should God own it?” (Wesley commentary)

Eventually Abraham prayed for Abimelech and his people and God listened to his prayer. He is such a merciful God!


  • We must be encouraged to take sin seriously. And when we confess, we need to be thorough and accept all the consequences and responsibility. We often, as Abraham did, indirectly blame others to excuse our behavior. God sees through this. Be honest.
  • Consider the impact that our sin can have on our testimony before others. Imagine how Abimelech viewed Abraham after this incident.
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