Abraham had been a man that had been obeying God. He had originally lived in the land of Ur with his father Terah with his wife Sarai. Ur was in the area of what we would today call southern Iraq. Maybe near present-day Basrah.
Terah had made a plan, along with his family, to head to Canaan, but instead they stopped short in Harran, possibly because of the water sources in the area and fertile ground that they had found.
But God spoke to Abraham, at that time named Abram, and he said that he should continue the journey on to a land that God would show him, which would be the plan that they had originally made, to go to Canaan. Canaan was still quite a ways away, especially as Abraham was moving several of his family members and his flocks, but God had promised him this land and had promised him blessing, so he decided to go along with his nephew Lot and they made it to Canaan. In fact, we see that they were able to not only make it to the land, but God appears to Abram and tells him that this is the place, here in Canaan, and we see that Abram worships God. He builds an altar and offers a sacrifice to God at that new land.
Failing the test
However, a significant test comes upon Abram. There is a famine in the land and he needs to go look for food, so he heads to Egypt. He believes that he will find food there, so he packs up his families and heads down to the south. Abram realizes that Sarai’s beauty, despite being a great blessing to him, could actually also be a liability so he tells Sarai that he wants her to lie and say that she is his sister instead of his wife.
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”Genesis 12:11-13
In fact, as it turns out, Sarai was Abram’s half-sister, having been born from the same father as Abram but a different mother. So Abram was attempting to skirt around the danger that he believed was coming using a portion of the truth, but in reality, he was lying. The truth is that Sarai was his wife, and he was about to give her away to the king, the Pharaoh, of Egypt.
Abram had a choice in this situation. He could have easily said that he would go to Egypt and depend upon God to protect him. The same God that had just led him to Canaan and promised the land to him could, of course, protect Abram from the problems that he felt that would come upon him as he went to the Egyptians. But he didn’t do that. Abram instead decided to choose his own solution and give away his wife.
Consequences of sin
I can just begin to imagine the consequences of Abram’s sin. First, we see that Pharaoh rebukes Abram for what he has done. God, in his wisdom, decides to bring sickness and disease upon Pharaoh and his household. Pharaoh begins to wonder what is happening and finds out that the problem is that he has brought another man’s wife into his household to be his own wife.
Abram had an opportunity, similar to what we later see with Daniel, to announce that his protection and guidance comes from Yahweh, from the One and Only God, the One who had guided him to this area in the first place, and give glory to God for watching over him and protecting him. But instead, Abram insists on his own solution and instead prostitutes his wife for the sake of his own life and his own gain.
What is more, I am also thinking of the camel ride home after Pharaoh sends Abram and Sarai away. How silent was that ride? And how long-lasting and deep of scars were created in their relationship?
What damage was done to Sarai as a result of Abram deciding to give Sarai to Pharaoh to go and be his wife? Could it have been, instead, that Sarai would have trusted God’s plan that she would have a child with Abram, just as God had said, if only Abram had showed dependence upon God instead of showing that he didn’t trust God for his provision and protection? There isn’t any way to know for sure, but I can only begin to imagine that Sarai had significant difficulties in trusting Abram, not to mention trusting God who had brought them there, as they went forward based on what Abram had done.
Choices to make
And so we also have choices to make. Each day, we can look to our own solutions, our own ideas about how we can solve problems, or we can look to God for his solutions. God desires to make a way for us. God desires to lead, to guide, and to protect, but he also calls us to trust him. There are moments in each day where we can decide to do the right thing, according to God’s plan, or we can choose to make our own decision and go our own way. We can, instead of trusting God, trust ourselves, setting up our own plans. Let us instead be a people that look to God for his provision and for his guidance so that we can now be considered faithful and his good and faithful servants.