Where is your Egypt?
(***Note: While the Bible records the names of the two characters in our story as Abram and Sarai, for the sake of continuity, this post will use their more common names, Abraham and Sarah.)
Our hearts were heavy. We were making a move from North Carolina to Ohio only our 12-year-old found exciting. En route, the transmission in our minivan blew, leading to a chain of events that dragged us from North Carolina to the respite of Jack’s sister’s home in Georgia, back to North Carolina, and on to Ohio. More than once, we wondered, Was this really what God wants us to do?
I wonder if Abraham felt the same way after he’d settled in Canaan.
The fulfillment of God’s promises were nowhere in sight; instead, a crippling famine hit the land. So Abraham did what nomads do. He unpegged his tents and went in search of water and grazing land for his flocks. The most logical place—Egypt.
Read the full story of Abraham’s journey to Egypt in Genesis 12:10-20.)
Yet God had said, “Go to Canaan.” Was Egypt part of God’s plan? And was Abraham prepared to meet the challenges he would face in this unfamiliar culture?
Evidently, Abraham was concerned about one contingency—how the rest of the male population would respond to his very beautiful wife. He instructed Sarah to tell people she was his sister and not his wife. Not a total lie; Sarah really was his half-sister (see Genesis 20:12). It was one of those edgy truth statements that left the door open for the hearers to make their own assumptions. If they guessed wrong, that was their problem. Or so Abraham may have thought. He may not have anticipated what happened next.
He was right about Sarah’s beauty turning heads. Pharaoh’s officials noticed, told Pharaoh about her and Pharaoh took her into his palace. Ancient world leaders were known for having a lust for lining their halls with beautiful women. Evidently Pharaoh was planning to go further with Sarah by making her his wife (Genesis 12:19).
Are you tempted to throw your hands up like I am?
Abraham! Dude! What are you doing? You’re supposed to be the poster patriarch of faith. Why did you lie?
Abraham tells why he did what he did. Before they entered Egypt, he had told Sarah, “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).” And therein lies the problem. Fear.
Why was Abraham afraid? God had promised him a new land, more descendants than stars in the sky, hoards of people God would gather to form a great nation. If God was trustworthy, certainly God would let the Egyptians kill Abraham.
Fear leads us to falter in following God’s commands.
The core problem was not Abraham’s half-truth, but his fear that caused him to make the choice he made. Fear is a lack of faith, for fear causes us to lose our confidence in God’s promises and come up with our own solutions.
But it doesn’t have to. We don’t have to act on our fear. Instead, we can choose to act on our faith in God. Faith makes the active decision to obey God no matter what happens because faith has the confidence that God will keep the promises He has made.
I’m not going to say it was wrong for Abraham to migrate to Egypt. That was a hard call. Life decisions get complicated. But I do know the lesson for you and me is that we need to make that rock solid, bottom line commitment to stay faithful to God no matter what our new situation presents.
When we make a decision to go into the unknown, we never have all the information we need. Something will always catch us off guard. We’ll get tired. We’ll be vulnerable targets because we’re uncertain and ignorant about the culture of our new circumstances. More than ever, we need to stand firm and cling to our faith so we don’t falter.
How do we do that?
We can stay faithful to God’s commands by remembering God’s promises
- He will be with us – Joshua 1:9
- He will give us wisdom – Psalm 32:8
- He will give us strength – Isaiah 41:10
- He will do great and wonderful things through us- Ephesians 2:10
- He will bring us safely home to Heaven – John 14:3
Circumstances are temporary; God promises are eternal. No matter what situation you are in, He will stay with you, give you wisdom and strength, and empower you to make it through all the way to the end of your life. You can make the right moral choices and not cave to fear because you count on God to keep His end of the contract.