Meditations in the life of Abraham : 13. A Plan
Gen 12:11-13 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.”
People sometimes get confused with the Bible when they are asked, “Is it all inspired?” The answer has to be “Yes!”, for “All Scripture is God-breathed.” (2 Tim 3:16) but that doesn’t mean to say that we take everything we read as right and an example to be followed. In Job, for example, we find his three friends saying wrong things and so we need to discern what was right in their discussions. In Ecclesiastes we find Solomon writing out of a period in his life when he has lost contact with God. There is much to learn in it but we must realise the context. Now here in the story of Abram we find him following a course of action which is only a half truth and we cannot say we should follow his example here.
What we must do is remember what we’ve said before: this is the story of a man whose faith is embryonic and he is feeling his way through life and not getting it all right. We’ll see more of this as the story progresses. In this instance Abram does not pray and seek God for protection as he goes intoEgypt. He hasn’t learned to do that yet, as many young Christians don’t learn it until later in life. Instead he hatches a plan for his own protection, though it may not go well for Sarai. Not good!
At the heart of his scheme is fear. He fears that when he goes into the land and the powerful people there see his beautiful wife they will kill him to take her. The only way, as he sees it, is to distance himself from Sarai in some way. So he tells her to say that she is merely his sister. Now, as we said before, there is a half truth in this. We find at a later incident him explaining, “she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.” (Gen 20:12) In other words Terah had either been married before, or had two wives or had a second wife when the first one presumably died, and through the other woman had had Sarai. She was, in fact, Abram’s step-sister.
As the story progresses, we will see that it is the Lord who protects her, but Abram wasn’t to know that. Put very simply, he has hatched a human plan to protect himself that involves a half-truth and putting his wife at risk. Not very honourable – but he knows no better. Note, as we said before, the Lord doesn’t reject him. The Lord will not approve this course of action, but He will also not reject this man with his young faith. What reassurance! How many times in our lives have we been godless (not referring our problems to Him) and planned our own way through our difficulties in ways that have been less than perfect, if not less than good? The reality is that on our own (and the ‘old nature’ is just waiting to rise up and do its own thing without reference to God) we have done this and will do this many times before we get to heaven. Of course the Lord wants us to learn to refer everything to Him, but it IS a learning process and that means it happens slowly and gradually.
Please see the truth here of what we have been saying. This is why Jesus died – for our sins, big ones and little ones, sins of commission (thing we do wrong) and sins of omission (where we should have done something). Where you are, is not where God wants you to be; He wants you to change! He has something better for you than you are now. If you are still following this behaviour pattern as much in five years as you are now, you haven’t learnt what the Lord is trying to teach you.
The Scripture is quite clear. When you don’t know how to do something, or you can’t see the way through difficulties, ASK the Lord: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (Jas 1:5) and “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6,7) There it is: talk to the Lord about these sorts of things. Look to Him for answers. But if you are sufficiently young in the faith, and forget to do this, the Lord will not reject you – just give you some more difficulties until you do learn to do this! Be blessed!