We are continuing our thoughts about God’s molding of Abraham’s character to be a man of God. He didn’t live long in the land of Canaan before he left the land to lean on Egypt:
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” (Genesis 12:10-13).
To the spiritual man, Egypt is a picture of one leaning on the arm of flesh rather than God. Egypt was watered not by springs, rain, or dew but by irrigation with the foot pump. The Nile was the water source for the Egyptians but getting the water to the fields required a man to pump it up with their feet. God said the land of Israel (Canaan) was different from Egypt:
The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden (Deuteronomy 11:10).
The things of God don’t have to be pumped up by fleshly means. When we talk about Abraham's faith, we must remember that God never told him to go down to Egypt. When things were getting difficult from lack of rain, Abram was just like us; we often resort to the arm of flesh rather than take the time to seek God for His guidance. We are often moved by fear—the "what if" syndrome; take a look at the fear the media pumps out in our day if you question the human tendency to be moved by fear. Israel has a history of turning to Egypt for help instead of going to God:
2who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace (Isaiah 30:2-3).
What fear rears its head before you today? Abram experienced a fear of death because of Sarai’s beauty. He saw the looks that men gave Sarai when they thought Abram wasn’t looking. Perhaps he felt insecure in this new culture of Egypt. Insecurity will cause a man to trust in the ways of this world system or fleshly resources rather than the provision of God.
Abram was Sarai's half-brother, so he made a deceptive deal with Sarai for her to call him her brother (Genesis 12:12-13). Since Sarai's father was no longer around, any suitors for Sarai's hand in marriage would have to negotiate with Abram, her brother. The universal custom of the day was for the brother to assume legal guardianship in arranging marriage on Sarai's behalf, giving them time to slip away before Sarai would have to become anyone's wife. Those with faith in God can slip up occasionally, and the Bible never glosses over sins of the flesh by the Lord's heroes. Abram should have rested on God's promises that he would become a great nation—without his wife, this could not happen. The Word of God requires us to hold on to our faith in God and persevere through difficulties.
Perhaps Abram did not realize that Pharaoh would take her into his household. Now what, Abram? How are you going to get out of this mess? We don't read of any complaint from Abram at Sarai being taken into Pharaoh’s court, but God steps in and afflicts Pharaoh's household with serious diseases (Genesis 12:16-18). Somehow the secret is out, and Abram is severely scolded and shamed for his faithless act. How embarrassed he must have felt when Pharaoh told him to leave Egypt.
This story reminds us that even when we fail to act in faith, God has a way to get us on track again when we repent. There is never a dead end when we submit our life to the Lord. If you have made mistakes and feel that you have lost your way or made a wrong turn in life, it is essential to know that God has not finished writing your story! The thing to do now is to submit your way to the Lord and ask Him to give you the next step on your journey. Are you ready to trust Him? Keith Thomas
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