What Good is a Lying Prophet?

Genesis 20:7 “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you” (NIV).

Observation: Twice, Abraham had lied about his relationship with Sarah, this time to Abimelech, the pagan king of Gerar. Sarah was technically Abraham’s half-sister, having been sired by Abraham’s father, but the full truth is, she was Abraham’s wife. Fearing he would be killed so the widowed Sarah could then be claimed by Abimelech, Abraham had told Sarah years earlier, “Say you are my sister” (Gen. 12:13). God, however, revealed the deception to Abimelech in a dream and told Abimelech that he should return Sarah to Abraham for he is a prophet, and Abraham would then pray for Abimelech.

Application: Here lies Abraham, the lying prophet. Wouldn’t that look great on a tombstone? I find myself face to face with the troubling reality that a pagan king has acted with greater integrity than a prophet of God. In fact, Abimelech was so appalled at the wrong he had been led into by Abraham’s lies that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, male and female slaves, one thousand shekels of silver and the freedom to settle anywhere in the land that he might choose. Does it seem odd that a pagan king should want forgiveness from a lying prophet? Is it troubling that Abimelech should want prayer from a deceiver? 

What about my own situation? A lay leader in church, believing in a God whose power and authority over illness are unlimited, yet with a wife whose illness inexorably advanced until she was overwhelmed and died? Should any who know my feeling of helplessness now be glad to see me approach with a flask of healing oil? Run while you are still able! But let me ask, where shall you run? To another whose success rate is higher, or whose following is larger? To one whose human frailty has not yet been so exposed? Where can you hope to find a human vessel better equipped to pray for you than a lying prophet or a man with a dead wife? 

When I am finally desperate enough to know that only God can help me, then I must run to Him! There are only two, critical components for my answer. The first is to abjectly recognize my need, which Abimelech did; and the second is to trust in God’s sovereignty, nothing and no one else. He alone can deliver me. If He should choose human vessels to convey His help, it will not be because the vessels are perfect; none are. Rather, they have yielded to the Master Potter, to the One whose business it is to break every vessel, then to make them anew.

Prayer: Father, it is You in whom all power, all righteousness, all glory reside. Make me a vessel of Your sovereignty.

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