Abraham the scam artist?

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Genesis 20:1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the region of the Negeb, and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While residing in Gerar as an alien, Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” And King Abimelech of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a married woman.”… So Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants and told them all these things; and the men were very much afraid. …14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham, and restored his wife Sarah to him. 15 Abimelech said, “My land is before you; settle where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; it is your exoneration before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

Abraham and Sarah are up to their old tricks telling people they are siblings instead of spouses. And as happened in Egypt, rather than being punished for their deception they are rewarded with property and riches. In modern jurisprudence I’m pretty sure this sort of deception would constitute a form of fraud. I’m not gonna sugar-coat it –  this is a scam! And in Abraham’s case it absolutely paid off. It stuns me how God chooses to be faithful to a shady character like Abraham. Just doesn’t seem right.

But then I start to think about my own shortcomings, which are many, and the truth hits me like a 2×4. The mercy God shows to Abraham is the same mercy he shows to me. It’s not right that I should be called child of the holy, living God. But that’s who I am because of Christ Jesus. And so I find my outrage turns to gratitude very quickly. Who am I to judge God for being merciful? If God were not so, I would stand condemned before him and have no hope in this life or the next.

Lord you are truly gracious and merciful. Give me grace to reflect your mercy to others. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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