Saturday, April 3, 2010

Therefore it shall come to pass . . .

Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
Genesis 12:12 KJV

Lying. Never a good idea. No matter how justified it seems at the time. But here is Abram, soon to be renamed Abraham, and the guy mentioned so prominently in Hebrews 11's Hall of Faith, talking his beloved wife into lying on his behalf.

Of course we would never do such a thing. But, consider this. I am at first struck at Abram’s concern over his 60-year-old wife’s attractiveness to the Egyptians. This shows Sarai was not only a woman of particular beauty, but also that not every culture worships youthful and the ultra underweight appearance the way our own modern day culture seems to.

As an aside, there is an interesting Jewish legend about Abram and Sarai's travels into Egypt. It goes like this:

The ancient Jewish legend tells that when Abram went down into Egypt, he tried to hide Sarai in a casket. When the Egyptian customs officials asked what he had in the casket, he said, “barley.”

“No,” they said, “it contains wheat.”

“Very well,” answered Abram. “I’ll pay the custom on wheat.”

Then the officers said it contained pepper. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on pepper. Then the officers said it contained gold. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on gold. Then the officers said it contained precious stones. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on precious stones.

By this time, the officers suspicions were aroused beyond control and they insisted on opening the casket. When they did, all of Egypt shined with the beauty of Sarai. Other similar legends say that in comparison to Sarai, all other women looked like monkeys. And some say that she was even more beautiful than Eve.

Now, all of that is the stuff of legends. But, I think it demonstrates that Abram had a good reason to be concerned for her safety and certainly his!

So, Abram asks her to say that she is his sister. Now, this was actually a half-truth. Sarai was Abram’s half sister (see Genesis 20:12). But here is the spiritual principle.

A half-truth is a whole lie.

Abram’s intent here was clearly to deceive the Egyptians and protect his own life and Sarai's. He trusted in his clever deception to protect him instead of trusting in the Lord who had made a covenant with him.

So, what is it there for?

It is there to point out two potential ways of dealing with a situation that is beyond our own understanding or control.

First, if you lack faith or you want to do something to advance your own cause, you can almost always find plenty of good reasons to do it or say it. If you can’t think of the reasons yourself, the devil is happy to suggest them.

Second, Abram would say, “God has made a covenant with me about my descendants and He has promised me children, and I don’t have them yet; therefore, I know that I am 10 feet tall and bulletproof until the time that God’s promise is fulfilled, because God’s promises are always true.”

Fortunately for Abram, his life was not permanently marred by this decision.  After all, he is mentioned prominently throughout the Bible and is the Father of the Jewish nation.

Where do you stand today?  Are you in fear because God has not delivered on His promises to you yet?  Or are walking in faith as someone who is 10 feet tall and bullet proof?

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