In our study of Genesis chapter twenty, we look at the lesson that Abraham had to learn concerning faith and location. As the father of our faith, we sometimes forget that Abraham was still a man and so struggled with understanding his faith just as we do today. Here, we will go along with him as he learns that faith is not location specific.
"Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar," NIV translation
The Negev is a desert/semi-desert region in southern Israel and that is where Abraham went after he witnessed the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. Why he went into that area instead of the more fertile areas, we do not know but we see that he spent time in Gerar. Throughout the Bible, the desert is a place of testing and the purpose of that testing is to grow us in our faith.
"and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, 'She is my sister.' Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her." NIV translation
While in Gerar, Abraham lied and denied that Sarah was his wife. We remember from our past studies that she was a beautiful woman and this is not the first time that he lied about Sarah. He had feared that he would be killed so that another man could take his wife.
This brings us to the purpose for his time in this place of testing. Abraham was a great man of faith but he had to learn that God is in control in all places at all times. This is a great lesson for us as well, in that, it does not matter what we are going through (which desert), God is still able to protect His own. Jesus promised that He would never leave or forsake us and we can hold onto that because He keeps His promises!
"But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, 'You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.'" NIV translation
We see that, even in the face of Abraham's lack of faith, God stepped in on his behalf. We can take courage from the fact that God did this even though Abraham had lied. There are those who walk around worried that God will turn His back on them because of their struggles of faith. Their struggle may be with telling lies, doing drugs or alcohol, or any number of other things. The devil wants us to believe that God's favor depends on our efforts to overcome the struggles instead of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We must remember that God's favor is upon us because we are His children through our faith in Jesus.