Why Would God Say Something Like THAT?

by Sherry Boykin

My feisty little 7-year-old was fit to be tied. We had just finished reading a Bible story, and she was overwhelmed with what seemed to her an outrageous, unfair, one-sided, mean thing to say on the part of God.

What Abraham Could Believe
We had read about Abraham, the Hebrew big shot and proverbial friend of God, who told a lie so big I wondered if his nose might have grown a bit. The faith-filled patriarch could believe God to guide him from his comfortable home in metropolitan Ur to some undisclosed, mystery land while Abraham wandered around tent-dwelling and cow-chip-jumping with his post-menopausal wife who would somehow bear his offspring.

Husband and WifeWhat Abraham Couldn’t Believe
But Abraham couldn’t believe God would spare his life once foreign men saw the beauty of Sarah, his wife, since they would undoubtedly want to take her for their own.

May we all have husbands so bedazzled by our perfect facial symmetry!

So when Abraham traveled to a foreign land, he told the king that Sarah was his sister.
And he told Sarah to say that he was her brother.
And she did.

The Hiccup
Never mind that weird little thing about them actually being half-siblings that evoked all kinds of icky discomfort. Let’s just understand that Abraham lied to save his own rear end, and Sarah went along with it.

The Plot Thickens
The king was delighted to hear that Sarah was Abraham’s sister, and so at the suggestion of his men, he took her to be his own wife. Listen to how the rest of the story unfolds in the soap opera of Genesis chapter 20:

So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and told him, “You’re as good as dead—that woman you took, she’s a married woman.”
Now Abimelech had not yet slept with her, hadn’t so much as touched her. He said, “Master, would you kill an innocent man? Didn’t he tell me, ‘She’s my sister’? And didn’t she herself say, ‘He’s my brother’? I had no idea I was doing anything wrong when I did this.”
God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know your intentions were pure, that’s why I kept you from sinning against me; I was the one who kept you from going to bed with her. So now give the man’s wife back to him. He’s a prophet and will pray for you—pray for your life. If you don’t give her back, know that it’s certain death both for you and everyone in your family.”
Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his maidservants, and they started having babies again. For God had shut down every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. (Genesis 20:2-7; 17-18 The Message)


So, the guy who knew God told a big old fat one and got the guy who didn’t know God in trouble. But, it’s the guy who didn’t know God who was punished while the devout liar walked away unscathed?

I felt my 7-year-old’s frustration the first time I heard that story … and a whole lot of others just like it.

Seemed like God would have a better handle on his people.
Or like his people would have a better handle on God.
Or like life would work out more agreeably for people who do right things versus people who do wrong things.

The But-Kicker
umbrellaThen it occurred to me that those kinds of stories are fairy tales and that The Bible does not fall under that umbrella. God’s Word is not primarily the story of great pillars of the faith deserving of God’s praise and our imitation. It is the story of God’s grace and redemption in the life of the proud, short-sighted, unfaithful, lying, adulterous screw-ups who can’t find their way to the only porch with a light on–even with a divine GPS to show the way.

The pitifully imperfect.

Just like you and me.

So the next time God’s ways seem weird, be glad. He’s probably reminding us of how He is completely unlike we expect Him to be and how He does exactly what we don’t expect Him to do. And drawing our attention to the outrageous, unfair, one-sided, mean things He forgives all the time.

Wherever you are, whoever you are–He will work with you!

WeirdSherry Boykin is a women’s conference speaker and author whose ministry, BUT-Kickers, encourages women to trust God for the otherwise unbelievable. Sherry’s experiences in the inner-city, in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, and on a twenty-year dating expedition provide a striking backdrop for countless life lessons laced through the Word.
To find out more about Sherry, please visit the following links:
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Sherry on Twitter

Pirate Preacher

The Pirate Preacher is the Communications Director at Christ' Church at Moore Square. On Monday nights he leads a "Jesus Study" in Moore Square. Each Sunday between 12:30 and 2:00 the Pirate Preacher and others, gather in the park to hand out food, water, and other items that add to the abundant life Jesus promised. He's also is an award-winning author of middle-grade, YA, and adult fiction and a writing coach and instructor.

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  1. Just when we think we have God all figured out, he throws us a curve ball so we can realize His ways are always higher than our ways. Thanks, Sherry!

  2. There are some days when this is what we need to hear. There are some days when we need a God who we don’t fully understand. This is that day and this is that story.

  3. “He is completely unlike who we expect Him to be and . . . does exactly what we don’t expect Him to do.” This statement is one I need to remind myself of over and over – along with the fact that He is also good! Thanks for sharing some great insights.

    1. And as much as I may like to have things all figured out, I’ll have to admit I’d be pretty bored if God were always predictable in his dealings with me.

  4. Sherry – I read this just after reading this headline “Police find 7 Dead Babies in Utah House” – there is such pain, tragedy and evil in our world – it is easy to see it “over there” but not always easy to see the ways we are responsible for some of it through our lies, machinations, manipulations or other actions that basically betray our lack of trust. The Bible is filled with those stories – (think of Rebecca!) – why would we imagine our own lives would not also be filled with them. Thanks for this reminder – Sue B

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