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Covenant Father 2: Abram's Exodus - Genesis 12:10-20

Maybe you remember that Bible story about the famine that drove God’s people into Egypt. Maybe you remember they ended up as captives, stuck in a “kill the boys; let the girls live” situation. Maybe you remember how God sent plagues to punish Pharaoh, so that His people could be sent away with much spoil. Maybe you remembered that story being about Moses, but as you see in Genesis 12:10-20, this was Abram’s story hundreds of years earlier.

As we look at this Exodus, we see that Abram leaves Canaan because the land is barren. While it isn’t faithless to run to Egypt, it is risky. Sarai is beautiful enough that if the Egyptians know that Abram is her husband, they’ll kill him in order to make her single again, so that one of them can take her for a wife. But if they see him as her brother, Abram expects them to treat him like Sarai’s protector, which will enable him to control the process and have at least a chance of not getting killed. So Abram makes a plan with Sarai to have her say that she is his sister.

That’s the plan, but when they get to Egypt, word of Sarai’s beauty gets all the way up to Pharaoh himself. Because of his position, Pharaoh doesn’t seek Abram’s blessing. He simply takes Sarai into his house without asking. This seems like a disaster. Things looked bleak in Gen. 12:1-9, but now in verses 10-15 Abram is starving, he’s no longer even in the land of promise, and he’s lost his wife. How can any of God’s promises come true?

But without Abram having to do anything, God keeps His promise to curse the one who dishonors Abram. He afflicts Pharaoh’s whole household with plagues because of Sarai. One way or another, Pharaoh finds out the truth. He calls for Abram, blames him for the plagues, and then kicks them out of Egypt. This doesn’t seem like a glorious exit, but notice what’s happened: Abram entered empty, but he leaves full of Pharaoh’s servants and livestock. He now has what Canaan couldn’t provide, the means to become a great nation. God used the journey to Egypt to overcome the problem of the barren land, and now Abram has his arms full.

The fundamental lesson of an Exodus story is that God delivers His people. Not only that, but in the midst of it all, God blesses us and curses our enemies. Plagues for them, plunder for us. This Exodus story is a story of deliverance and blessing.

How might this pattern instruct us today? The Bible calls us sojourners here on earth. We’re not in the Promised Land yet; we’re in Egypt. Christ has a beautiful bride, and so every Pharaoh wants to seize her and take her for himself. When disturbing things like that happen, Christians start to wonder: “Why does God have us going on this risky journey before we receive our inheritance? What’s going to happen to us?”

But when we remember that we’re living in an Exodus story, then we should expect that Christ our brother will protect us, and that we’ll end up leaving with Pharaoh’s stuff. That’s the way our story as the people of God will go. God takes us through Egypt to fortify our faith and to show His mighty power to save. That’s what the eyes of faith can see, even if it looks like the Church has been taken captive by the world.

But making this application between Abram’s sojourn and ours forces us to face a tricky question: was Abram’s plan to survive his sojourn an act of faith or an act of fear? Is this faithless deception, or is Abram being as wise as a serpent? Ultimately, I don’t think we know enough to be certain, but I’m very cautious to blame Abram when God blesses him.

But even if the particulars of Abram’s plan were faithless, we should learn at least this much from Abram: when you sojourn in Egypt, have a plan so that you don’t get killed. Maybe your work environment or your college qualifies as an “Egypt”. What’s your plan for surviving as a Christian? Or think about Christians sojourning on the internet. What happens when you wander onto the web without a plan? Only a fool would sojourn there without safeguards.

That being said, have a plan, but don’t put your trust in the plan. Put your trust in God. Even when your best plans fail and Pharaoh seizes what’s most important to you, remember how journeys to Egypt end for God’s people. When you sojourn in Egypt, expect an Exodus. God will deliver you and bless you as you walk in faith and put your trust in Him.

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017 by CJ Bowen