Our Bible is comprised primarily of histories and theology. If given the choice to think on either of these, I gladly choose the histories for their insights on the nature of the characters involved are to compared to ourselves. I realize that St. Paul labels this practice foolish (2 Cor. 10:12), nevertheless it is a way one can learn something from these histories. Quite often, theology is taught within the confines of these histories.
This Genesis passage is of note. Previously, we have God directly communicating with Abram in the form of a covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) to leave his home and dwell in the land of the Canaanites. This unusual proposal is based simply on Abram’s trust or faith in God and His provisions. Surprisingly Abram, at his elevated stage in life (v. 4) decides to do as God prescribes rather than enrolling in a Chaldean retirement village. Most of us become more conservative as we age, but not Abram.
When he and Sarai arrive in Canaan, they are met with famine (v. 10) and decide to seek food and shelter in Egypt. Abram does what most of us do when we find ourselves in a tough situation – he tells a lie (v. 13). Sari was indeed his half-sister (Gen. 20:12), but what he voiced was certainly done with the aim of deceiving the Egyptians.
The summary of this passage is as follows…
- Abram acts in going to Egypt.
- Abram’s lie reveals his plan is simply to keep he and his wife alive.
- God intervenes (v. 17).
- Pharaoh’s speech (v. 18, 19) reveals his intentions.
- Pharaoh acts to repair the damage (v. 20) by sending them on their way.
This history revels Abram’s faith in God in going to Canaan; it reveals Abrams weakness in his dealings with the Egyptians, and it demonstrates God’s power to intervene and pull Abram and Sari through the situation despite themselves. The theology lesson is the high value (Heb. 11:6) God places on peoples trust in Him, to the point of overcoming our shortcomings.