The life of Abraham is filled with chiastic structures, and there is another one in chapter 20:
1A: Gen 20:1, Abraham settled in the Negev, Kadesh, and Gerar;
1B: Gen 20:2, Abimelech took Sarah, the “sister” and wife of Abraham;
1C: Gen 20:3-7, Elohiym warned Abimelech in a dream;
CENTRAL AXIS: Gen 20:7, “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
2C: Gen 20:8, Abimelech told of Elohiym’s warning;
2B: Gen 20:9-14, Abimelech restored Sarah, Abraham’s wife and “sister” to him;
2A: Gen 20:15, Abraham is invited to settle wherever he pleases.
As I saw that God had put neon flashing lights around Gen 20:7, it made me wonder why God considered Abraham a prophet. I mean, he didn’t do what we traditionally understand prophets do: proclaim Thus saith the Lord. But as I thought about it, I realized that Abraham proclaimed God’s truth in the way he lived his life. His household ran differently than the households of those around him. God actually reiterated this in the previous chapter, when He said,
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Gen 18:19
(By the way, fathers, do not let the feminization in our society dupe you into thinking that patriarchy is bad. God knows best, that families and households need the strong one of the house (Hebrew pictograph of “father”) to command his children to keep the way of the Lord.)
Abraham did not sacrifice to idols as everyone else around him did. His household did not celebrate on the pagan holidays as the households around them did. He and the males of his house were circumcised. They took for righteousness and justice, what God considered righteousness and justice, and not what society around them considered right and just (see Gen 19:4-9 to see what the society around them considered right and just). So without opening his mouth, he spoke of God to men.
Notice that God said to Abimelech, “… he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live,” Gen 20:7. Praying for someone is what we think of as intercession. Intercession is what Abraham did for Sodom. But really, by God putting prophecy and intercession together in His description of Abraham, He is showing us that prophecy and intercession are two sides of the same ministry: Abraham spoke to God on behalf of men (intercession), and spoke to men on behalf of God (prophecy). He mediated.
I believe Abraham’s ministry is still the ministry of his seed today.
For further study: In these chapters we see episodes in Abraham’s life repeat. His sojourn with Abimelech sounds almost exactly like his earlier sojourn in Egypt. Lot makes a feast for the angels (Gen 19:3), and in the earlier chapter, Abraham made a feast for them (Gen 18:3-8). Why are these details in the account, when they seem to really have nothing to do with it? When I begin seeing repeating elements like this, I start looking for a chiastic structure. I have found complete structures in just a few verses, and also that have spanned 10 or 20 chapters. There are structures within larger structures, and also overlapping structures. Try your hand at finding one. Then ask yourself, when you find the central axis, Why did God put neon flashing lights around this?
Finding Messiah: Abraham’s ministry of mediation is the ministry of the Messiah, the Messiah being the Promised Seed who was born through Abraham:
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” 1 Tim 2:5
For further reading:
Evidence found for Sodom and Gomorrah