„From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife." Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this." Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours." 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. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done." And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What did you see, that you did this thing?" Abraham said, "I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God caused me to wander from my father's house, I said to her, 'This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.'" Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you." To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated." Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. ”
This is a rather interesting but meaningful story from the word of God. A huge part of todays' believers can not even imagine how could something, that they are unaware of doing would be considered as a sin. Due to this is, many people lock themselves in complete ignorance, and measure with their own measures, to decide what is right or wrong in the eyes of the Lord. But the lack of knowledge is not an excuse, it does not save us from the damning consequences of the judgement. If we don’t know that something provokes God, yet we commit it, it will still provoke Him, and indeliberate sin will weight upon us. Sin is when we intentionally act against God, while indeliberate sin is committing something against God without knowing it is a sin. Sin has a more serious consequence, but the consequence of indeliberate sin is not small either! As we could see in our starting verses, Abimelech (meaning: my father is king) took Sarah with integrity in his heart, as he didn’t know that what he did was not right in the eyes of God. Yet God still struck his household (diseases, barrenness), but He did not let out His entire judgement upon them. Only after God informed Abimelech about the seriousness of his act, meaning he realized what he did was a sin, the verdict became far more serious, which would have brought death upon him and his household. God warned Abimelech because God pursued to have good relationship with him. Those who pursue having a good relationship with God must live in holiness, because God lives in holiness too.
„For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. ”
And to mention a more known verse:
„"Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
For some reason, many believe that this has changed with Jesus. They believe that holiness is no longer a requirement, and sins could not separate us from God. With this statement, what they actually say is that God has changed! But Jesus neither acted nor taught otherwise, as whenever Jesus made contact with sinners, His message towards them always was to repent and not to sin, follow God's commandments and follow Him according to these! He visited Zacchaeus not to accept him as he was, but rather as we can read in the story, Jesus declared His salvation to him when Zacchaeus realized his imperfection in the commandments, and he knew that he must act according to them.
„He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."”
Why is he the son of Abraham? Not because he was a descendant of Abraham, but because his deeds have testified that Abraham is his father.
„They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. ”
Our deeds define who we are, not where we were born, or what we believe about ourselves. God demands holiness, so those who actively seek to have a good relationship with God must live in holiness. Let us read another story in relation to our opening verses.
But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel. Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, "Go up and spy out the land." And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few." So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?" The LORD said to Joshua, "Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.”
Even though the people of Israel did not know about Achan's sin, 36 people still died because of it. Yet they didn’t die because God struck them with His anger, but because God did not take part in battle as He wasn’t with the people of Israel, and the consequence of this was the death of 36 people fallen in battle. Perhaps it seems unrighteous that someone died due to another person’s sins? God is not unrighteous, and we must understand the importance of holiness. Fellowship with God can be practiced individually, or in a community. The latter, establishing holiness in a community is the hardest, because as we could see in Achan's case, one person’s bad choice resulted in the whole community’s detriment, and God may leave an entire community due to one individual. In the time of Apostles, the holiness of God was amongst them too, so much that God Himself removed the leaven (Ananias, Sapphira) to save the entire community from suffering. But in today’s era, where the church seats are filled with believers who don’t care about God's will/commandments, and take sinning so lightly as a natural and acceptable thing, then why would God be amongst us?
Some of you may smile and find these verses a little funny, but God didn’t give this as a commandment by coincidence.
„"You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. ”
Could this be enough for God to turn away from us? It is, according to the word of God, but according to people’s opinions, it isn’t. However, above all, God called us to follow His word, and not people's opinions.
(March 14, 2020)