What Was Sarai Thinking?
Once in Egypt, Abraham faced a new set of problems, for if you run away from one test, you will soon face another. Once you enroll in “the school of faith,” you are not allowed to “drop out” just because of one failure. God has purposes to fulfill in you and through you, and He will do all that is necessary to make you succeed (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6).
In Canaan, all Abraham had to deal with was a famine; but in Egypt, he had to get along with a proud ruler and his officers. Pharaoh was looked on as a god, but he was not a god like Abraham’s God, loving and generous and faithful. Abraham soon discovered that he had been better off dealing with the circumstances in Canaan than with the people in Egypt. Notice the changes that took place in Abraham’s life because he went down to Egypt.
As Abram was about to enter Egypt, he pulled Sarai his wife aside.
Abram: Sarai, you are a very beautiful woman, and I am well aware that when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “Look, she’s his wife”; then they will kill me and let you live so they can have you for themselves. Tell them you are my sister so that nothing will happen to me because of you. In this way you can save my life.
Genesis 12:11-13 (VOICE)
Abraham Moved From Trusting To Scheming
Abraham had no altar in Egypt, and you don’t find him calling on the Lord for guidance and help. When you stop trusting God’s Word, you start leaning on man’s wisdom; and this leads to trouble (Prov. 3:5-6; 1 Cor. 3:18-20). Abraham and Sarah brought this “half-truth” with them from Ur (Gen. 20:13), used it in Egypt and Gerar (Gen. 20), and then their son Isaac adopted it (Gen. 26).
When you find yourself scheming in order to escape problems with people, beware; Worse trouble is coming!
From Confidence To Fear
When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me but let you live.
Genesis 12:12 (HCSB)
It isn’t clear if Abram’s fear was justified. This could have all been an irrational fear, or maybe the society of that day was basically lawless. By any reckoning, this was cowardly on Abram’s part. He certainly wasn’t going to put his life at risk to protect his wife.
When you are in the place of God’s choosing, you don’t ever need to be afraid; for faith and fear cannot dwell in the same heart (Isa. 12:2; Mark 4:40). The fear of God is the fear that conquers every fear (Ps. 112; Isa. 8:13); but “fearing people is a dangerous trap” (Prov. 29:25). God had repeatedly said “I will” to Abraham, but now Abraham was saying “They will”. He took his eyes off the Lord and started looking at people.
He Moved From “Others” To Self
Please say you’re my sister so it will go well for me because of you, and my life will be spared on your account.”
Genesis 12:13 (HCSB)
I don’t see any way to whitewash this. Abram didn’t trust God in this instance, and he was willing to sacrifice his wife in order to save his own neck.
He lied so that it might “go well for me because of you”. As the husband, Abraham should have thought first of his wife and not of himself (1 Peter 3:7; Eph. 5:25, 28-29). In fact, he should never have taken his wife there in the first place!
A husband out of the will of God can bring untold trouble to his wife and family.
Sarai is an unusually attractive woman. Even at her age of 65, Abram is afraid of what the Egyptian men might do when they see her and desire her. So he takes matters into his own hands and devises a half-truth to conceal their marriage. We learn later—when Abram repeats this half-truth to Abimelech (chapter 20)—that Sarai and Abram have the same father but a different mother.
So when Abram came into Egypt with Sarai and his family, the Egyptians did indeed see that Sarai was very beautiful. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they told Pharaoh just how beautiful she was. So Sarai was taken into Pharaoh’s house and made part of his harem.
Genesis 12:14-15 (VOICE)
What was Abram thinking?
Did he care what was happening to Sarai?
What was Sarai thinking?
What was she thinking of her husband who was willing to let her be abused to save his neck?
Women were basically the property of their husbands in those days. They certainly were dependent upon their husbands to survive. So, Sarai didn’t have many, if any, options.
He treated Abram well because of her, and Abram acquired flocks and herds, male and female donkeys, male and female slaves, and camels.
Genesis 12:16 (HCSB)
Abram was not only sacrificing Sarai for his own safety; he was getting rich off letting someone else take her to be their wife. What a scoundrel.
The huge dowry that Pharaoh gave Abram for Sarai is another testimony as to how beautiful she was.
This leads to a fourth change: He moved from bringing blessing to bringing judgment.
But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his household with severe diseases because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
Genesis 12:17 (NET Bible)
Abram was the one who was totally wrong in this situation, not Pharaoh, yet God reproved Pharaoh. That’s because Pharaoh didn’t have a covenant with God. The Lord doesn’t treat us as we deserve but according to our covenant.
This was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram earlier in this chapter that He would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3).
God called Abraham to be a blessing to the nations (Gen. 12:1-3); but because of Abraham’s disobedience, judgment fell on Pharaoh and his household. This also happened years later in Gerar (Gen. 20). If you want to be a blessing to others, then stay in the will of God. Jonah ran from God’s will and caused a storm that almost sank the ship. Like Jonah, Abraham lost his testimony before unbelievers and had to face embarrassment and rebuke.
So Pharaoh sent for Abram and said, “What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?
Genesis 12:18 (HCSB)
It is unclear how Pharaoh figured out that Sarai was Abram’s wife, but it is obvious that he related all the plagues he was suffering to Sarai being Abram’s wife. Regardless, Pharaoh was of greater integrity in this instance than Abram.
Why did you say, ‘She’s my sister,’ so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife. Take her and go!”
Genesis 12:19 (HCSB)
This reveals that even Pharaoh had some integrity and moral standards. This was unacceptable behaviour for Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s standards were higher than Abraham’s.
Then Pharaoh gave his men orders about him, and they sent him away with his wife and all he had.
Genesis 12:20 (HCSB)
Abram need not have worried about someone killing him to get at Sarai. God supernaturally protected them both, even after Abram did what he could to mess up the whole thing.
God graciously watched over His servant and brought him out of a difficult situation.
If Sarah had become one of Pharaoh’s wives, what would have happened to the promise of the Redeemer?
When we don’t let God rule, He overrules and accomplishes His purposes; but we pay dearly for our disobedience.
The practical lesson from all of this is simply never abandoning your altar. Stay in fellowship with the Lord no matter what the circumstances may be. If you have disobeyed and God is disciplining you, go back to the place where you left Him and make things right.
Remember: “The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.” That is not an excuse for sin, but it is an encouragement for repentance.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
I walk in the power of God’s favor. I am treated well by the authorities and, through Jesus. I gain an abundance of possessions.