“Unit 6: Day 2, Genesis 20–22,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 6: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and Sarah journeyed to the land of Gerar, where Sarah was taken from Abraham by Abimelech, king of Gerar. Sarah was preserved by the Lord through a dream given to Abimelech. After learning that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Abimelech restored Sarah to Abraham and allowed them to dwell in his land. In this land, Isaac was born in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (see Genesis 17:19, 21). Hagar and her son, Ishmael, were sent away from Abraham’s household into the wilderness, but the Lord did not forsake them.
Think about a time when you received a warning. It might have been as a little child when you were about to do something dangerous or when you were older and someone warned you about a choice you were making. Have you ever received a warning from God when you were about to make a mistake? How was that warning given to you, or how do you think such a warning would come?
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and his wife Sarah journeyed to the land of Gerar. Read Genesis 20:1–2, looking for what happened when Abraham and Sarah arrived in Gerar.
Read Genesis 20:3–7, looking for the warning the Lord gave to Abimelech. Notice why Abimelech felt he was innocent of wrongdoing. Abimelech learned from this experience that God would warn him before he committed a serious sin. The Lord was merciful to Abimelech by warning him. Abimelech heeded the Lord’s warning and lived.
As you read the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, look for one way the Lord can warn you:
“No member of this Church—and that means each of you—will ever make a serious mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
“Sometimes when you have made a mistake, you may have said afterward, ‘I knew I should not have done that. It did not feel right,’ or perhaps, ‘I knew I should have done that. I just did not have the courage to act!’ Those impressions are the Holy Ghost attempting to direct you toward good or warning you away from harm” (“How to Survive in Enemy Territory,” New Era, Apr. 2012, 3).
As a baptized member of the Church, you have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ponder some ways the Lord can warn you before you commit serious sin. When have you felt the whisperings and feelings that come from the Holy Ghost warning you? You may also receive warnings from prophets, the scriptures, parents, teachers, advisors, and priesthood leaders.
Read Genesis 20:8–13, looking for what Abimelech did after receiving the Lord’s warning.
What reasons did Abraham give for saying that Sarah was his sister? Do you remember when Abraham and Sarah had a similar experience in Egypt?
In some ancient cultures if a king wanted to marry a woman and she was already married, the king might have her husband killed so he could take her as his own wife (see Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 65–66). It appears that Abraham feared that this might happen to him. He may also have been relying on the instructions the Lord had given him when Abraham and Sarah had a similar experience with Pharaoh in Egypt (see Genesis 12:11–15; Abraham 2:22–25).
Read Genesis 20:14–17, looking for how Abimelech responded to the Lord’s warning. Think about what we can learn from the account of Abimelech about what happens when we hearken to the Lord’s warnings.
- Based on the account of Abimelech, complete the following principle in your scripture study journal, and then answer the following questions: When we hearken to the Lord’s warnings, …
When have you listened to and obeyed a warning from the Lord?
How did your choice to obey the warning bless you?
Has anyone ever promised you something, but it seemed unlikely that the promise would be fulfilled?
Remember that the Lord had promised Abraham and Sarah that Sarah would have a child. Abraham was almost 100 years old and Sarah was almost 90 years old when the Lord made that promise (see Genesis 17:1, 15–19).
Read Genesis 21:1–7, looking for phrases that show God kept His promise to Abraham and Sarah.
We can learn the following principle from this account: God always keeps His promises to the faithful, according to His timetable.
- Read the following scenario, and complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Your aunt has longed to find a righteous priesthood holder to marry and to raise a family of her own. She is over 40 years old and has no prospects for marriage. She wonders if the Lord has forsaken her or forgotten her.
Write about how you might use the experience of Sarah and Abraham to comfort your aunt in this scenario.
List one or two other types of scenarios where knowledge of the principle that God keeps His promises to the faithful could help someone.
Ponder how knowing that God fulfills His promises to the faithful might influence the choices you make.
Genesis 21:8–21 tells us that Sarah saw Hagar’s son, Ishmael, mocking, or persecuting, Isaac (see also Galatians 4:28–29). Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away into the wilderness. Although this grieved Abraham, the Lord instructed him to do as Sarah said and told him that He would make a great nation of Ishmael’s posterity. Ishmael eventually became the principal ancestor of much of the Arab world in fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham (see Genesis 21:13).
In Genesis 21:22–34 we learn that Abraham and Abimelech continued to have positive dealings with each other.
Write down three things that you love. You could include people, possessions, activities, or other items.
How would you feel if you were asked to give up the items on your list? Why?
Read Genesis 22:1–2, looking for what the Lord commanded Abraham to give up. Notice footnote a in verse 1. The word tempt as used in this verse means to test or to prove. Remember that the Lord promised Abraham that through Isaac he would become a father of many nations and that He would establish His covenant with Abraham (see Genesis 17:15–21). Although Abraham had another son, Ishmael, Isaac was the only son born to Sarah and the son the Lord had promised to make His covenant with.
- In your scripture study journal, list words and phrases in Genesis 22:2 that help you understand how difficult this command must have been for Abraham. Then answer the following question: How do you imagine Abraham might have felt about this command?
Read Genesis 22:3, looking for how Abraham responded to the Lord’s command. It might help you to know that the word clave means to cut or split. What stands out to you about Abraham’s response?
Read Genesis 22:4–8, looking for what Isaac asked his father. Notice how Abraham answered his son’s question. You may want to mark Abraham’s response.
Read Genesis 22:9–10, looking for what Abraham did when they arrived in the land of Moriah.
Why do you think Abraham was willing to obey the Lord’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac?
Read Genesis 22:11–12, looking for what happened next.
How do you imagine Abraham and Isaac might have felt after receiving this message from the angel of the Lord? Through his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, what had Abraham shown about his feelings toward God?
Notice the word fearest in verse 12. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that although “we generally interpret the word fear as ‘respect’ or ‘reverence’ or ‘love’; that is, the fear of God means the love of God or respect for him and His law,” we should also “so love and reverence Him that we fear doing anything wrong in His sight” (“A Sense of the Sacred,” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Nov. 7, 2004], 8; speeches.byu.edu). You may want to write this explanation in your scriptures.
Use what you have learned from Abraham and Isaac’s experience to complete the following principle: When we are willing to do what the Lord commands us, we show for Him.
- Draw an altar in your scripture study journal, with room to write above it. Ponder the Lord’s commandments. Write some of these commandments above the drawing of the altar. Then answer the following question: How does our willingness to obey the Lord’s commandments show the Lord that we love Him?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why it is important that we willingly obey God: “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24).
Look at the list of commandments you wrote in your journal, and ponder which commandments you willingly obey. Then consider which commandments you could begin obeying or obey more willingly to show your love for the Lord. You may want to set a specific goal of how you will more willingly obey the Lord. If you pray for help, God will help you in your efforts.
In Genesis 22:15–24 we read that the Lord reassured Abraham of the blessings promised in the Abrahamic covenant. Later, Abraham learned about children born into the household of his brother Nahor, including a granddaughter named Rebekah, who would play an important role in the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Genesis 20–22 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: