Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
It is striking evidence of the spiritual life of this man of God that he could pray for children to be granted to others while his prayers for his own wife were still unanswered. He interceded for Abimelech, and God answered.
It is difficult to understand Abraham’s reversion to that half-lie about Sarah being his sister, especially in view of the deep fellowship with God which had just preceded it. But this time he discloses that the arrangement made between them dated right back to Mesopotamia. Some hidden root of unbelief and fear had lingered through all these years, and now at length it had come to light. At the start of his wandering Abraham seems to have feared Sarah might be separated from him. Yet surely by now he should have known God would take full responsibility to see that this did not happen.
At last, here in Gerar, the lurking fear was dragged out into the light of day, and slain, leaving Abraham free to pray for others. He did not pray for Sarah. Now he had no need to. Immediately after this, Isaac was born.
The work of God in us is often far beyond our comprehension. This story of Abraham reminds us that there is nothing that escapes the attention of God. In due season He carefully brings to light those things which we may have carefully hidden away. During the meanwhile we, as Abraham did, can be walking with God and appearing to do so successfully. God in His grace then brings us into places where those inward things are brought to the surface. They may appear to be trials or temptations and we might even think that the devil or some scheming person is trying to trap us and bring us to the brink of failure. In Abraham’s case, he and Sarah were traveling and passed through the land ruled by King Abimelech. Sarah, who apparently was a beautiful woman, attracted the kings attention and he decided to make her his wife. On the surface, we might attribute Abraham’s actions to saving his own life. I’m sure that was true but what the scriptures reveal is that this was the moment God uncovered the root of Abraham and his relationship with Sarah. To better understand we must know that Abraham and Sarah’s marriage was an arranged marriage. Their parents had made the choice and perhaps as babies or small children the arrangements had been made. The challenge of arranged marriages was that nobody asked whether the two parties loved each other. Abraham no doubt thought that Sarah had followed him out of duty rather than love. Added to this question was the fact that they, at this point, had no children and in the culture of that day, that was considered a sign of being under a curse. All of this doubt and unbelief was working under the surface in Abraham and before God could use him to bring about His plans, it had to be rooted out. Like us, when God brings us to Himself, Abraham had to go through a process of being made into someone new. God who loves us digs deep to bring to surface and deliver us from anything that stymies our spiritual growth or hinders us in our work for Him. Theologically this is called sanctification- the act of separating us unto God for His purpose. For Abraham and Sarah to become the parents Isaac would need, God had to take them through a time of preparation. In this place, God allowed Abraham to face his fear and unbelief. Once God has delivered Abraham from his unbelief, Abraham was then capable to believe for others. And as Abraham prayed for another, he released the blessings of God over his own life. In the story of Abraham we read that it was a long time between the promise of God and its fulfillment. Most of the time we think that God is delaying because for some reason- and we don’t know what. Abraham’s story reveals that it just might be that there are things that need to be brought to the surface and worked out of us. We often quote Romans 8:28 without realizing that God uses every situation, even the painful ones to bring us into His complete plan for us. Until Abraham could fully trust Sarah’s love, he wasn’t ready to be the father of her child. Once God worked that in Abraham the promise came to pass. Maybe you have some unfulfilled promises still in you. Perhaps we might should ask God to bring to light those hidden things that need to change in us so we become ready to receive the promise and where in the confidence that God can be trusted, we can pray for others in faith.
Remember that God molds us like a gentle potter, never crushing us or discarding us. Instead, He lovingly shapes us into vessels of honor for His glory. Almost everybody in the world knows about Abraham because he pressed through what was hidden and through the transformation became known as “the Father of faith.” I doubt whether we would ever have even known his name had he not submitted to the process of sanctification and became a vessel God could use. This is true for us too.
Dr. John Thompson