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Abram’s Error in Egypt

Abram’s Error in Egypt
Written for our learning…

          Genesis chapter 12 opens up with one of the more significant promises recorded in the Bible. God promised Abram that He would bless him, make his name great, and curse those who cursed him; also, God instructed Abram to leave Haran; so he packed up his family and belongings and did as God had instructed—journeying south toward Canaan. When Abram reached Moreh, God informed him that the land of Canaan would be given to his descendants for a dwelling place. So Abram built an altar in Bethel, but continued to travel southward.

            Apparently, while Abram was traveling, a famine arose in the land of Canaan. So, in order to find sustenance, he and Sarai (his wife) went down to Egypt. Abram was an intelligent individual; so he, thinking that the Egyptians would kill him when they saw how beautiful Sarai was, devised a plan whereby he might escape any harm that the Egyptians might intend to bring upon him. His scheme involved the underhanded method of telling a half-truth—thereby deceiving the Egyptians into believing Sarai was only his sister. The scheme was successful, if you think successful means simply escaping the threat of death. At the same time, though, the scheme was an utter failure. It was a failure because Abram had to use deception—a tool of the devil—in order to bring his plan about. Please read this account in Genesis 12:10-20 at your leisure; but for now, let us observe 6 great lessons that God wants us to glean from this passage. Jehovah would have us to know that:

  1. All sin starts with a lack of trust in God. Obviously, Abram did not believe God’s promise (to make of him a great nation) to the degree that he should have. Why do I say this? Because if he had trusted in God like he was supposed to, then he should have realized that since he had no offspring yet, and since it takes offspring to make a great nation (as God had promised him), that he was going to live through the events that transpired in Egypt. He did not have to lie. God would have seen Abram safely through whatever happened in Egypt, because He (God) still had a promise to fulfill. How does knowing this help us? By reminding us that whenever we sin, the sin is just an outgrowth of an attitude that is already inside our heart—not trusting God. When people cheat on their taxes, it is because they do not trust that God will sustain them otherwise. When people commit adultery, it is because they do not trust that God’s punishment is really as bad as He says it is (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Therefore, it behooves us to trust in God with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5-6), so we will not commit sin.
  2. Even our “heroes” of faith fall short sometimes. Abram, who is later named Abraham (Gen. 17:5), is spoken of a number of times in the New Testament as one who was full of faith and one to emulate in that regard (Heb. 11:8, 17); yet even he fell short of living as he should have from time to time. We need to always try to live above sin, but when we are weak and fall short of God’s divine standard, we need to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and get back to work. We should not take long periods of time despairing over sin, for this is what Satan would want us to do—stay busy thinking about our sin so we will not get busy doing God’s work.
  3. Sometimes we worry over things uselessly. When Abram was going toward Egypt, he must have felt very sick at his stomach—nerves can wreak havoc on the digestive system. I can almost hear the ‘wheels-a-turning’ in his head as he tries to think of a plausible story to keep himself alive once they reach Egypt. As it turns out, even after his secret was discovered, no one tried to kill him. All that worrying for nothing! Is Abram all that different from us, when we worry over money problems, social problems, or family problems? Really, worry does not do any good whatsoever. If you can change whatever is troubling you, then change it; and if you cannot change it, then do not worry about it—it is out of your hands.
  4. God is going to see to it that His plan works. God had a plan for Abram and Sarai; they were supposed to be the parents of a nation of people. Sarai was not supposed to be the wife of Pharaoh; and God was going to see to it that he did not take her as his wife. Likewise, God has a plan today. He has a plan to save men in a certain fashion (viz. hear, believe, repent, confess, be immersed in water), but sometimes men think they can circumvent the force of the Bible by cutting off pieces of God’s plan. This account teaches us that God’s plan (and only God’s plan) will be the one to work when all is said and done.
  5. The praise of men does not guarantee the approval of God. When Pharaoh took Sarai, he gave Abram gifts for her sake (16). It is easy to see that Pharaoh was trying to entreat the favor of Abram by such gestures. Today, as back then, we have no such promise that when men do good to us that this means we are alright with God. As a matter of fact, the Bible teaches that when large groups of men start to praise us, that we should beware (Luke 6:26). 
  6. The very fact that this incident is recorded is evidence for the inspiration of the Bible (Woods, p. 33). Generally speaking, when men write something and they are trying to make their story convincing to an undecided group or individual, they will try to put their ‘best foot forward.’ That is, they do not want to show their ‘ugly parts’—because that would detract from the selling power. With the Bible, though, we find it recording many of the sinful actions of men who were servants of God. This is compelling evidence that the Bible was not written by some man or a group of men who were trying to make the Bible a palatable and appealing book. Rather, it was written by God to show us that every human makes mistakes; and we all need God’s forgiveness.