Greetings, everyone! Blessings to you in our Lord Jesus Christ, and welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS! It’s good to be with you today, and as we open our Bibles and ask the Lord to teach us and transform our lives through His Word, I know that we’ll all be blessed as a result. We’re back in the 12th chapter of Genesis as we begin this new week, following Abram and Sarai as they traverse the land of Canaan and familiarize themselves with all that the Lord has promised to them. Let’s pray and ask God to lead us as we study.
Lord Jesus, we ask today that in your love and compassion for your people, you would bless the study of your holy Word. Draw close to us and speak to our hearts as we open the Scriptures. We ask this in your precious and saving name, amen.
As we get started today, things have started off so beautifully with Abram, a man obviously full of faith and trust who has exhibited an extraordinary capacity for obedience. Now, however, we see his extraordinary capacity for something else. Our focus this session: preservation of a promise…or plain and simple seediness?
10Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you." 14When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
Have you ever told a lie before? Here are some of the most common ones among Americans:
- The check is in the mail.
- I'll start my diet tomorrow.
- Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back.
- One size fits all.
- Your table will be ready in a few minutes.
One notably absent listing from that group? “Oh, her? She’s my sister.”
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and while that saying may be true, it doesn’t mean that every invention is a good one. In today’s passage from God’s Word, Abram comes up with one of the worst of all time: lying about his wife and allowing her to be taken into another man’s household in order to save his own skin.
So — what’s going on here? Beyond the simple telling of events we don’t have too much to go on, but what we do know is enough to leave a pretty bad taste in our mouths. A famine has spread across the land of Canaan, and so Abram takes his caravan and heads south toward Egypt. Why Egypt? Probably because the area surrounding the Nile River has plenty of food, water, pastureland, and other supplies to support Abram, his people, and his flocks. Remember, this entourage is a whole lot more than a few head of sheep and a smattering of support staff. Rather, there are hundreds of people and thousands of animals with Abram — plus all the accoutrements associated with taking care of them all. Envision less of a large family campsite and more of a sprawling, traveling village and you’ll begin to get an idea of the size. It’s an operation of legitimately grand scale.
At any rate, as they get ready to cross the border into Pharaoh’s land, we come to the dilemma that shapes the entire passage: Sarai is an exceptionally beautiful woman. So beautiful that Abram is sure he will lose her to the Egyptians, who will want her for their own — and if they find out he’s her husband, most likely kill him in the process so he’ll be out of the way. Never mind the fact that God has just very recently promised Abram that he will be the father of a great nation. Never mind the fact that in order for that to happen it will be necessary that Abram live, not die, and that he will need the partnership of his faithful wife to bring it about in any case. Finally, never mind the fact that God has already shown Himself to be worthy of Abram’s trust, having faithfully led him and his people into the land promised to him and his future descendants. None of these things seems to mean anything at the moment. None of them have penetrated his obviously fearful heart or straightened out his obviously incomplete thinking. Why do we know that? Because for want of a better term, Abram, looking at his situation and considering his options, essentially sells Sarai down the river, sullies her honor, and places her in great danger so that he can save his own neck. God’s faithfulness doesn’t appear to be on his mind in the least, and God’s promises don’t seem to be making much of an impact either. Abram decides that he’s going to settle this in his own way — and that’s how this portion of the passage concludes.
Initially, things seem to work out okay, don’t they. Sarai — almost certainly hard pressed and probably without any real say in the matter — agrees to go along with the ruse, and things transpire just as Abram figured they would. Playing the role of her brother rather than her husband, Abram ends up being treated favorably by Pharaoh and his officials as Sarai is taken to be Pharaoh’s wife. No harm, no foul, right? Everyone is happy, and all is well.
Or are they…and is it?
That’s a question which demands our attention, and not just with regard to the surface issues, which are frankly shocking and terribly disturbing no matter what you might say about the times, the prevailing culture of the day, or anything else. Yet there’s a great deal more to talk about as we address the question behind the question, which we’ll do when we gather next time. Things, as we’ll learn, won’t actually be turning out so well after all, and in the aftermath, we’re going to need to parse them out in our quest to learn and grow from the text.
For now, as we wrap things up for this session I’m going to close by disclosing one more piece of information related to what we’ve covered today. It’s hard to believe, but this is not the only time Abram will do this to Sarai. He’ll pull the same stunt again with a different king in a different land in Genesis 20, and in fact, that passage makes it rather plain that this was Abram’s M.O. whenever he encountered similar situations. He had all kinds of excuses as to why and how it was okay, and we’ll cover some of them when we’re together again tomorrow, but for now, how does that make you feel as you consider his actions? Is wisdom at work here, or wiliness…or is it just worry and weakness? Is God and His promise to Abram being honored here or is it being abhorred…and perhaps more important still, is it being skillfully safeguarded or stupidly squandered? There’s lots to discuss here for sure, so be sure to come along for the conversation next time!
Have a great day, everyone, Christ’s peace to you and yours, and I’ll see you again soon. Take care!