Genesis 12:10-20 (NIV) 10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” 14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. 17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
On verses 10-20: One of the things I appreciate about Genesis is its honesty; that is, when it comes to characters like Abram or Noah, the Bible tells it like it is. Rather than pretending that these great figures in the Bible did not have their share of flaws and weaknesses, Genesis openly talks about their flaws and weaknesses, not to smear their name but to show that all of us are sinners who need a Saviour. Here, Abram, whose faith is in many ways an example for us, does something here that no man of faith would be proud of: fearing what the Egyptians might do to him if they found out he was married to the beautiful Sarai, Abram lies to everyone he meets in Egypt about his marriage to Sarai, saying that they are siblings rather than husband and wife. He also tells Sarai to do the same. As a result, Pharaoh king of Egypt takes Sarai into his palace, presumably to be his concubine. While Abram seems to profit initially from his lie (v16), eventually God sends diseases on Pharaoh and his household, evidently to protect His plans for Abram and Sarai. Angry at how Abram lied to him, Pharaoh returns Sarai to Abram and sends them away from Egypt.
What can we learn from this? Here are a few lessons I learn from this passage:
1. Abram went through a season of lapsed faith. Abram was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him. In his fear Abram had forgotten that God had already promised to make Abram a great nation and to give Abram offspring. Abram became more focused on saving his own skin than preserving God’s plan for his life. It goes to show that when we give into fear and forget God’s promises, we often end up doing things that are wrong and regrettable.
2. Lying may provide a short term gain, but in the end it produces long term pain, not just for ourselves but for others too.
3. To protect his own skin, Abram sacrificed and dishonoured his wife. He risked Sarai’s life to save his own. Thankfully, many centuries later, Jesus would do the opposite: Jesus would sacrifice his life to save his bride. Husbands, be more like Jesus and not like Abram: protect and cherish your wife.
4. Here we see the protecting heart of God as God sends diseases on Pharaoh and his household so as to protect God’s plans for Abram and Sarai and the people God intended to bring forth through Abram and Sarai. God had tremendous mercy on Abram, protecting Abram even though Abram was in the wrong.
5. Here Abram goes down to Egypt to escape a time of famine. Rather than being a blessing as God had promised in Genesis 12:2, Abram will end unwittingly bringing a curse on the people of Egypt. As Abram is leaving Egypt with his tail between his legs, Abram must have thought, “What have I done? I haven’t brought a blessing to Egypt but a curse.” However, unbeknownst to Abram, four generations later, Abram’s grandson Joseph would go to Egypt and be a great blessing there, saving the people of Egypt during a time of famine. It’s amazing that God is able to fulfill His promises and write a greater story even through our biggest mistakes.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your merciful and protecting heart, how You have mercy on us when we sin against You. I pray that I would not give into fear but trust in Your promises whenever I am afraid. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!