Who is Worthy to Rule

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 12[1]

Abram’s faith had shallow roots when he arrived in Canaan. He built an altar at the place God appeared to him. Then he moved to a mountain east of Bethel and built another altar where he “called on the name of the Lord.” But there is little in this deal for Abram beyond a “great name.” Everything God promised belonged to a child Sarai would bear, but it’s impossible for her to have children.

Before the year ended Abram drifted away from the altar at Bethel. A famine turned him toward Egypt where his crisis of faith became evident. If he believed God would fulfill his promises, there was no reason to fear the Egyptians would kill him and take Sarai. Josephus, a Jewish Historian, also offers insight into Abram’s struggle to believe.

“…when a famine had invaded the land of Canaan, and Abram had discovered that the Egyptians were in a flourishing condition, he was disposed to go down to them, both to partake of the plenty they enjoyed, and to become an auditor of their priests, and to know what they said concerning the gods; designing either to follow them if they had better notions than he, or to convert them into a better way, if his own notions proved the truest.”[2]

Fearful the Egyptians would kill him to take Sarai he asked her to lie about their marital status. Pharaoh took her into his harem and made Abram a rich man for the sake of his supposed sister. While Abram counted his money and debated religion with the Egyptian priests, Pharaoh had more pressing problems than satisfying his lust on the latest acquisition to his harem. A disease infected his family, and, according to Josephus, a sedition also arose against his government.

This story shows the contrast between God and man. Abram was more concerned about his life than his wife. God was concerned about Sarai, who also represented his wife, the New Jerusalem.[3] He intervened to get his plan back on course for Sarai’s sake and for the sake of his integrity.[4]

The Bible is silent about how Pharaoh learned the source of his problems. According to Josephus, Pharaoh consulted his priests who pointed the finger at Abram and Sarai. Pharaoh confronted Sarai who admitted she lied about her relationship with Abram.[5]

Pharaoh could have killed both of them for deceiving him, but no one can thwart God’s plan. Instead, he confronted Abram with a series of soul-searching questions: “What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife?”[6]

If Abram was disgruntled that God had invited him to Canaan to receive a city someone else would rule, the answer to Pharaoh’s questions proved why. Someone who would lie and encourage others to lie to save himself is not worthy to be the king of kings in God’s New Jerusalem.

Pharaoh allowed Abram to keep the gifts he gave him under false pretenses. Then he threw them out of Egypt with an escort guaranteeing they left Egypt and would not return.

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Antiquities of the Jews, By Flavius Josephus, Vol II, Page 87

[3] Galatians 4:21-31, Paul tells us in verse 24 Hagar and Sarai represent two covenants. Hagar represents the covenant of law and the city of Jerusalem established on the law of Moses. Sarai represents the covenant made with Abraham and the New Jerusalem established on grace.

[4] Genesis 12:17

[5] Antiquities of the Jews, By Flavius Josephus, Vol II, Page 87

[6] Genesis 12:19

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