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“She’s My Sister . . . Sort of” (Genesis 20:1-18)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Well, we’re starting a new series called “Weird Stories from the Bible.”

It’s not often that I ask you to tell me what you’d like for me to preach, but I did this time. A few of you responded, and I’ll be covering some of the weird stories that you requested.

Throughout history, there have been some famous people who have married their relatives. That’s right, we’re getting weird right away. Several famous people married their cousins, sometimes their first cousin, including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, and Jesse James. It’s weird to marry a relative, right? Well, we had some of this in the Bible, also.

Today, we’re going to cover a story from Genesis 20:1-18. We’re going to talk about a situation with Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Today’s sermon is entitled, “She’s my sister . . . sort of.” If you think this sounds weird already, you’re right.

Before we go any further, let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to speak to us.


Let’s look at the passage and then talk some about it.

Look at Genesis 20:1-18:

1 From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was staying in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman.”

4 Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “Lord, would you destroy a nation even though it is innocent? 5 Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience. I have also kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I have not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”

8 Early in the morning Abimelech got up, called all his servants together, and personally told them all these things, and the men were terrified.

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said to him, “What have you done to us? How did I sin against you that you have brought such enormous guilt on me and on my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 Abimelech also asked Abraham, “What made you do this?”

11 Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 So when God had me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: Show your loyalty to me wherever we go and say about me, ‘He’s my brother.’ ”

14 Then Abimelech took flocks and herds and male and female slaves, gave them to Abraham, and returned his wife Sarah to him. 15 Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you. Settle wherever you want.” 16 And he said to Sarah, “Look, I am giving your brother one thousand pieces of silver. It is a verification of your honor to all who are with you. You are fully vindicated.”

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female slaves so that they could bear children, 18 for the Lord had completely closed all the wombs in Abimelech’s household on account of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Ok, there’s some weird stuff happening here, so let’s point out some weird stuff from this weird story:

First, . . .

‌I. It’s weird that Abraham deceived the king.

It’s weird that Abraham would do this, but what’s weirder is that Abraham would do this twice.

Back in Genesis 12:10-20, Abraham lied to the Egyptian Pharoah about Sarah being his sister.

One would think that Abraham would learn his lesson. Pharoah was angry and sent Abraham and Sarah out of the land. It could have gone must worse for them, but God smoothed it out for them.

Then, Abraham wants to try the weirdness all over again with a different king.

Why would Abraham not trust God to take care of him against the pagan king?

Abraham’s excuse is that he feared the king because the king was godless. However, Abraham acted godless himself by not trusting God.

God promised that he would do something great through Abraham and Sarah, but Abraham clearly did not always trust God.

What’s even weirder is that Abraham willingly gave his wife to the godless king. Abraham was afraid that he might be killed, so he gave up his wife.

Let me just say, if a man wants to take my wife, he’d have to kill me before he can take her. Once I’m dead, she’s available if she wants to be available. However, as long as I’m living, there’s gonna be some scrapping if you want to take my wife. Not so with Abraham; he willingly gave her up.

Not to mention, we’re not even sure that Abimelech would have killed Abraham if he did know that Sarah was his wife.

It’s just weird that Abraham deceived the king by giving up Sarah, as if she was his sister.

Second, . . .

‌II. It’s weird that Abraham married his sister.

Now, you may remember verse 12, where Abraham says, “Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.”

So, Sarah really was Abraham’s sister, sort of. She was his half-sister, meaning that she had a different mother than Abraham did.

Can we just stop here for a minute and say that this is weird? If you come to me as your pastor and ask me to perform a wedding for you where you marry your brother or your sister, just be aware that I am not going to do that. I do not marry sisters and brothers to one another, because IT’S WEIRD!

By the way, Abraham was not off the hook for deceiving King Abimelech.

Even though Sarah technically was Abraham’s half-sister, Abraham’s intention all along was to deceive the king.

Abraham’s story to the king was not only rooted in deception, it also put his wife at risk.

So, the fact that Sarah really was his half-sister was weird. It didn’t make the story better; it made it weirder.

Finally, . . .

‌III. It’s weird that God worked through this situation.

If we were to pick a couple God would use to be the mother and father of His people, I’m not sure these would be the two we would pick.

They were originally godless people whom God chose simply because He wanted to.

Abraham married his sister, then gave her to other men (at least twice).

Sarah did some weird stuff, also. She gave her servant, Hagar, to Abraham to be with so he could have a child with her. Let’s read about this in Genesis 16:1-6:

1 Abram’s wife, Sarai, had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So Abram’s wife, Sarai, took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband, Abram, as a wife for him. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan ten years. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became contemptible to her. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and when she saw that she was pregnant, I became contemptible to her. May the Lord judge between me and you.”

6 Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your power; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.

Folks, this is weird.

Sarah suggested that Abraham take her servant to try and have a child. Abraham basically says, “Sure, why not?” Then, once it works, Sarah gets upset and then blames Abraham for it. This is messed up.

Abraham and Sarah were messed up . . . just like we are. They were weird . . . just like we are at times. Yet, God used them anyways.

That takes us to our bottom line:

‌Bottom Line: God uses the weird to accomplish the wonderful.

How many of you feel like you don’t have it all together sometimes?

I mean, maybe you didn’t marry your sister, but we’ve got issues, right?

Did you know that God didn’t call you to be His child because you had everything figured out? Did you know that God didn’t say that he would do great things through you because you were special?

God made this promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: “Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God would bless the world through Abraham. You see, Hagar’s son was not the son whom God promised. Abraham and Sarah would have a son named Isaac. Isaac would have a son named Jacob, also known as Israel. It was through the line of Israel that later a Messiah would come, and His name is Jesus.

God used the weird to do something wonderful.

God can also do something wonderful with the weird in your life.

God can work through the weird, the messed up, and the imperfect.

God does this by His grace, not because we’ve earned it in any way.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says,

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”

We may be weird, but God is full of grace!

Ephesians 3:20-21 says,

“Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God can do something wonderful through you, even when you are weird at times. He can do above and beyond all that we ask or think, and it’s all for His glory, because He is truly wonderful.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Commit to trust God’s design.

God has a design for your life.

That design does not include giving your spouse to someone else. That design does not include marrying your sibling.

In fact, after Abraham, would come a guy named Moses. It was during the time of Moses that God would put a lot of laws in place to prevent shenanigans like what happened with Abraham and Sarah.

God has a way for your life. God has a way for His church. We need to trust God’s design. We need to keep being faithful.

That takes us to our second weekly challenge.

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Commit to trust God’s promises.

God promised Abraham that He would bless him and bless the world through him. You better believe that God kept His promise to Abraham.

When Jesus promised He will save you, you better believe that promise.

When Jesus said we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we better believe that promise.

When Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against His church, we better believe that.

When the Bible says that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love, we better believe that.

When God says He will never leave or forsake His people, we better believe that.

When Jesus said He’s returning to make all things right, we better believe that promise.

Challenge yourself this week, this first day of 2023, to trust in the promises of God.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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