Continuing with David Niednagel’s daily S.O.A.P in Genesis (study, observe, apply, pray)
Genesis 12:10-20 Tell them you are my sister
12:10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner. 11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’ 13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”
14 And sure enough, when Abram arrived in Egypt, everyone noticed Sarai’s beauty. 15 When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh, their king, and Sarai was taken into his palace. 16 Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. 17 But the LORD sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18So Pharaoh summoned Abram and accused him sharply. “What have you done to me?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!” 20 Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions. NLT
“At that time a severe famine …” Terrible! They cut back on their food, their cattle began to die, they spent extra money trying to survive. Finally they decided to risk a difficult journey and try to live as foreigners (which brought a whole new set of problems) in Egypt. Had Yahweh deserted Abram? He sure wasn’t answering prayers!
On top of that, Abram had heard enough about Egypt to have legitimate fears that Pharaoh would want to take beautiful Sarai into his harem. It was not an easy decision to go to Egypt. They probably stayed in Canaan as long as possible, finally leaving in a weakened, fearful condition.
The paragraph before this one showed how Abram built altars and worshiped Yahweh, but this one shows his failure to trust the God he worshiped. There is no record of Abram praying about this. Was it because God had “allowed” this terrible famine? True, Sarai was his half-sister, so maybe technically he didn’t lie, but he was seriously afraid! He couldn’t think of any good options. Either he could be killed or she could be taken by Pharaoh. Abram did what he considered the lesser of two evils.
Pharaoh did take her, but he gave Abram much wealth! So there was something positive in this terrible situation.THEN, a terrible plague fell on Pharaoh. And then another one! And another!! And they were so bad and so frequent it became evident that they were not all by chance. Pharaoh certainly would have tried to appease his Egyptian gods, but it didn’t work. Finally somebody made the connection with Sarai, and that it was her God who was behind this. Pharaoh believed Yahweh was at work even if Abram didn’t! ! Pharaoh was furious when he called Abram in and wanted to know why he had lied about her being his sister. Abram must have been more afraid then ever, realizing he could be instantly killed – there was nothing he could say. But – Pharaoh did not kill him, he sent him, and Sarai, all their people and possessions out of the country.
Lord, I wonder how long it took for Abram to figure out what happened. That maybe that famine did not “just happen”. That You wanted him to trust the God he said he worshiped, even if at some times You didn’t show Yourself the way he was expecting. That You can bring famines and plagues, You can turn the hearts of kings, You can protect, provide and bless in spite of his weak faith and fears. Lord, even though that was 4000 years ago and thousands of miles away from me, I want to learn everything possible from that situation and trust You in everything. Help me have my eyes open and trust that You are sovereign over everything, and that in nothing should I give in to fear. Help me never lie because I think You are absent, but help me declare confidence in You at the very time I feel the most fear. Amen.