Daily Distinctives, March 5, 2018 – Woman Troubles

I really love writing, and this devotional is certainly a great outlet for me. Now I may not be the best writer ever or even close, but I find that by journaling my thoughts and studying the Scripture in this format that I am better able to grow in my own walk and systematically devour the Bible. I think that should be the goal of every believer, devouring the Bible that is. But whether your journal or not, that is up to you. Lately, I have been talking to my wife and some fellow believers about the issue of putting certain expectations on other believers. We have been watching a series together from a Christian speaker and pastor on the topic. One of the big themes that I have seen is that we have a tendency as believers to put unrealistic expectations on other believers who may not have the same giftings and same spiritual maturity as we do. Not that I have “arrived” by any stretch of the imagination, still, I hope that as you read my devotionals that you won’t ever think that if you don’t live up to my expectations in my writing that you have somehow missed the mark, or that you are an inferior believer. Ha! Make no mistake, your path is unique to you as mine is to me. God gives each of us different spiritual gifts and puts us through different challenges in our unique sanctification process. So you can relax if you don’t crank out what is the equivalent of a sermon per day in your own devotional time. I do this because I feel led to do this, God will most likely call you to something different. I share these devotionals with the hopes that you might take what you need from them in your own walk. For me, this is my journey and what I discover. For the more mature believer, please don’t make too much fun of me for my ignorance, I am still learning too! In fact, if you run across something that is improperly exegeted or have another idea for my consideration I would love to hear it.

So, with that house-keeping issue out of the way, I hope you will join me in my study through the second half of Genesis 12. In my last devotional on Friday (I sometimes take a weekend off from writing depending on how busy the weekend is) we looked at how God called Abram out of his country and from his family. When we left off we found that there was a great famine in the land where Abram was and so they journeyed to Egypt. This is where we pick up in verse 11.

[Gen 12:11 NKJV] And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you [are] a woman of beautiful countenance.

Now, here we have Abram and his wife, and they are traveling along and Abram looks over at his wife and gives her a compliment. We have to keep in mind that his wife was about 65 years old at this point. Now, I know that when you are in love the beauty of your spouse only increases over time, at least in your eyes. The truth is that the older we get the more things begin to wrinkle and sag in places where we wish they didn’t. But we also need to consider that during this time people lived a whole lot longer. At the age of 65 Sarai was probably still quite the knock-out in appearance.

But the problem with his compliment is that while it may be true, there was an ulterior motive behind his compliment. You see, he was buttering up his wife for what he was about to say.

[Gen 12:12 NKJV] “Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This [is] his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.

Abram married out of his league so to speak. He had this good-looking wife but he believed that if he came in with this beautiful woman by his side that the Egyptians would kill him so that they could get his wife. He wasn’t so concerned that his wife would be taken, but more that his own life was at risk. But here is the mighty man of faith that we are supposed to look up to. Where was his faith? Did he not realize that if trusted God that the LORD would see him through. We talked about this in our last study. Where God guides God provides. But this goes to show you that we all have room in our lives to have our faith increased. The reality is that one day, Abram would become Abraham and live up to the title of one of the most faithful men in the whole of Scripture. That is a comfort to me. I know that I am not where God wants me yet, but I am comforted knowing that the LORD is not finished with me yet either.

[Gen 12:13 NKJV] “Please say you [are] my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

Abram is asking his wife to lie on his behalf. Now, I often wondered about this. Is it ever okay to lie? I think about the times of the Nazi concentration camps, and how people would lie to the Nazi’s by hiding Jewish refugees. Or how about our own American culture where people would smuggle slaves in the “underground railroad.” Surely lying is acceptable in this case right? I can’t think of any place in the Bible where there was an instance where lying was okay. In fact, the Bible speaks out against lying (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 6:16-19; Psalm 119:29; Ephesians 4:25 amongst others) as an abomination.

Now while lying is not condoned in the Bible but prohibited, there are some cases where lying produced favorable results. How about the time when the Hebrew midwives reported to Pharoah after Pharoah had decreed that all male children be killed, that the Hebrew women were “more vigorous than Egyptian women and delivered before the midwives could arrive.” This lie saved lives and resulted in the LORD’s blessing the midwives. We might also consider the account in Joshuah where Rahab hid the Israelite spies and kept them from being captured. The bottom line is that while lying may be the lesser of two evils, it is still evil and should not be done. If we trust God to see us through “circumstances” then we have to rely on Him to see us through them at every turn.

Consider the three young Jewish boys who told the king before they were thrown into a fiery furnace that God could deliver them, but even if He didn’t they would not bow down to the kings’ idol. Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego had the right outlook on life. It may be that we are presented with an opportunity to tell the truth in presence of great consequences. The truth is the only thing we ought to give. We should trust that God will honor us for speaking the truth. The worst that anyone could do is take our lives. Considering where we will go when we die, that is not the worst thing that could happen to us. Chances are that not many of us are presented with life or death decisions where our lives are in the balance of what we say.

[Gen 12:14 NKJV] So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she [was] very beautiful.
[Gen 12:15 NKJV] The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.

So, Abram and his wife come into town and sure enough, she caught the eyes of the people. She must have been really good looking because the princes went and told the Pharoah about this beautiful woman who had just come to town. We aren’t told specifically that Sarai played along with Abram’s lie or if Abram told the people that Sarai was his sister. Technically, Sarai was his half-sister and so this was “technically” a half-truth. But I would say that a half-truth is just as bad as a whole lie. I was a teenager once. I can’t tell you how many times I avoided the truth on technicalities. It is shameful really. Even those “little white lies” are still a lie. The thing about lying is that it is a sin, and you may get away with it for a little while, but sin always finds a way to bite you and in the end, it leads to death (Numbers 32:23; Romans 6:23).

[Gen 12:16 NKJV] He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

It would seem that Abram’s lie served him well. After all, he was treated well because his wife was beautiful and because the people believed that Abram was Sarai’s sister. It would seem that he even prospered because of his lie. But God was displeased and as a result, of Abram’s lie, this caused the Pharaoh to sin.

[Gen 12:17 NKJV] But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.

Now, I am not going to say that Pharoah was an innocent king. Truth is, he was a pagan king that worshipped idols and held himself to be a god. But because the Messiah would come from the lineage of Sarai, it would have been intolerable for her womb to be defiled by this pagan king. To prevent this from happening the LORD safeguarded Sarai and brought down plagues upon Pharaoh and his house.

Now we are not told here specifically what the plagues were that afflicted the Pharaoh and his house, but I like to think that they put two and two together. I imagine the Pharoah saying, “You know, before this woman and her brother came along we were living high on the hog, but ever since they came I can’t stop itching!” But something happened to him to realize that Sarai and Abram were the problems because we see that Pharaoh calls Abram out in the next verse.

[Gen 12:18 NKJV] And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What [is] this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she [was] your wife?

You see, lying is not just a bunch of harmless words. Lies are daggers that wound everyone involved. Abram and Sarai might have done what they did to save their skin, but they put another person and his family in harm’s way. It would be one thing if they didn’t outright tell the people that Sarai was his sister and let them make assumptions on their own. Even then that would still be a lie. They could have ridden in on a “technicality.”  Maybe they didn’t have to outright lie, but they did. Even if we tell a half-truth we are omitting part of the truth, what we call sins of omission, we can cause others to act on limited information and cause them to fall into the trap of our own sin. The reason I bring this up is because of what Pharaoh asks Abram. Notice he asks, “why did you not tell me that she was your wife?” Normally I would say this would lead me to believe that Abram was not forthcoming with the facts and at the very least allowed deception to continue, instead of coming right out and saying, “this is my wife.” I know I am guilty of this. While I can’t think of any specific examples to share with you (but they probably involve my wife too), I know that I have simply kept my mouth shut at times when it was beneficial for me to do so, and allowed someone to believe something because it was expedient for me to do so. I know that does not say a whole lot about my character,  and there really is no other excuse than that I am a sinner. But God is working on me just like He worked on Abram. But we know Abram didn’t just let Pharaoah believe what he wanted to believe. We see in the next verse that Abram straight up lied to Pharaoh.

[Gen 12:19 NKJV] “Why did you say, ‘She [is] my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take [her] and go your way.”
[Gen 12:20 NKJV] So Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.

Had God’s sovereign hand not been upon Abram, he would have likely been killed for lying to the king. One does not simply lie to the Pharaoh and get away with it. And so we see some divine intervention here. It was not that God let Abram skate on the lie. There are always consequences for sin. But the promise that God makes to Abram is not dependent on Abram. When God told Abram:

[Gen 12:2 NKJV] I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
[Gen 12:3 NKJV] I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God did not require anything from Abram to fulfill His promise. God would see His will done regardless of the tool He used to do it with. When we consider that we are all flawed tools in the hand of a righteous God, only then can we begin to realize that it is for this purpose God puts us to the grindstone to sharpen us so that we can become better tools in His hands. Abram was just beginning to be sharpened.

Prayer: LORD, thank You for sharpening me. It hurts to be put to the grinding stone of life, but the sharper You make me the more efficient I am at doing Your work. LORD, I pray that You would continue to sharpen me so that I can be used by You more effectively. LORD, forgive me for my sin. Forgive me for any half-truth’s I have told, or the sin of omission. Help me to seek to preserve the truth at all costs. LORD, we live in a culture where embellishments and big fish stories are acceptable. But LORD, I know You hate lies. Our adversary is a liar, and we should not want to be like him at all. Instead, we should, I should, always seek to be truthful. Your WORD tells me that You are the Way, the TRUTH and the life. Why should I do anything contrary to who You are? Help me to let truth reign upon my lips that I might be regarded as a man of integrity. Even when it is easier to let people believe what they want, I pray that You would make it a burden on my heart to reveal the truth in all matters. LORD, I love You and I know You love me and want what is best for me. I thank You that You are not finished perfecting my faith. I am so grateful that You would consider me at all. To You be all glory, honor, and praise. LORD, I lift up my brother and sister who visited my wife and me earlier this week. I pray for their marriage, and for the struggles that they are facing in it. LORD, I ask that You would bless them with healthy ways to resolve their conflicts as You have shown me. I am thankful that I was able to share something that blessed them. Had I not been in the same predicament that they find themselves in now, I would not have had much to offer them to minister to them. But You see fit to allow the lessons in my life to bless others. I pray that You would be glorified through all things in my life. LORD, I lift up my pastor to you and ask that You would show him Your great love which You lavish upon him and his family in their season of trial. I pray that You would show him that Your people are surrounding him and interceding for him in prayer. I pray that You would bless him and his family in a mighty way and that their testimony would show the world that You are a mighty God. Lastly, I lift up my oldest daughter to You. I pray that You would put a godly man in her life so that she could be led by a strong man who understands Your WORD and that he might lead her places where she will not receive from me. My prayer for her is that she would know You as I know You and even more. I ask these things in Your name. –Amen

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