God's fav: Abram
Pack up and move1The LORD told Abram, “Leave your country, your father’s family, and your other relatives. Move to a new land I will show you. 2I’m going to make your family into a great nation of families. I’m going to bless your life. And I’m going to make your life a blessing to others. 3I will do good things to people who do good things to you. I will make life miserable for people who make life miserable for you. All the families on the planet will be better off because of you and your family. You are going to make this world a better place.”
4Abram, at the age of 75, packed up and left Haran just as the LORD told him to do. Abram took his nephew Lot with him. 5Abram took his wife, Sarai, along with Lot. He also took everything he owned, including his livestock and his servants. They all headed south to Canaan. When they arrived there, 6Abram led his caravan to a place called Shechem, near the center of Canaan. They set up camp beside a landmark terebinth tree called Moreh. Canaanites lived in that area.
7The LORD appeared to Abram in some way and told him, “I’m going to give this land to you and your family.” Abram responded in gratitude by building a stone altar that he dedicated to the LORD. 8Abram broke camp and moved further south. He set up a new camp in the Judean Hills between the cities of Bethel in the west and Ai in the east. He built another stone altar there, and worshiped the LORD. 9Abram broke camp again and traveled further south into the Negev badlands.
Abram's trip to Egypt10While Abram was there, a drought struck the land. This drought was severe enough that it forced him to migrate to the drought-proof Nile River Valley, where he lived as an immigrant. 11As Abram and his caravan approached the Egyptian border, he said to Sarai, “You’re one good-looking woman. 12When the Egyptians get a look at you, they’ll say, ‘She’s married to that guy.’ Then they’ll kill me and keep you for themselves. 13Tell them you’re my sister. That way they’ll treat me with kindness and respect in the hopes that you’ll start to like them.”
14Abram was right. Egyptians eyed Sarai up, down, and sideways. They liked what they saw. 15Some Egyptian officials went to the king, who was known by his title: Pharaoh. They told him he would like her, too. He did. At his request, Sarai moved in with him as the newest wife in his harem. 16Pharaoh liked Sarai so much that he treated Abram with kindness and respect. Pharaoh loaded him up with male and female servants along with a field full of livestock: sheep, cattle, donkeys, and camels.
17The LORD struck Pharaoh and his family with some kind of plagues or diseases—all because Pharaoh had taken Abram’s wife, Sarai. 18Pharaoh called Abram to the palace and clobbered him with accusation. “Are you crazy? Why did you do this to me? Why didn’t you tell me Sarai is your wife? 19Why on earth did you tell me ‘She is my sister,’ and then let me marry her? Take her back, get out of my sight, and get out of my country!” 20Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort the couple out. Abram left Egypt with Sarai and everything he owned.
Later renamed Abraham.
Later renamed Sarah.
Now Israel and Palestinian territories.
About a 470-mile (755 km) walk south of Haran along caravan routes.
Sarai was 66 years old at the time.
Many folks who have been to Israel would not typically describe it as a Promised Land. Maybe the Bland Land. But not the kind of region a person would associate with milk and honey and bees buzzing in the clover. It’s a land hot and dry, on a semi-arid plug of ground in the sweaty Middle East. Any guesses why God would tell a 75-year-old Abraham to leave what is now Turkey and move there, a 470-mile (744 km) walk south?
When Abraham made the move to Canaan, now called Israel and Palestinian Territories, he was 75 years old and his wife Sarah was 66. They had no kids. What do you think Abraham thought about God telling him, “I’m going to give this land to you and your family” (12:7)?
After Abraham moved to Canaan, “a drought struck the land” (12:10). Probably not the kind of welcome he expected. He decided to weather out the drought by temporarily moving to the drought-resistant Nile River Valley. But when he got there, he was afraid someone would kill him to get to Sarah—who was apparently one really good looking senior adult. So he told half the truth: Sarah is my sister. She was his half-sister; they had the same father but different mothers. What does that say to you about the character of Abraham and about the character of God who hand-picked Abraham to become the father of the Jewish nation?
After Sarah ended up in the king’s harem, it’s unclear if she had sex with the king. Bible experts roll out on both sides of that bed. Some theorize that she did. Some insist that she didn’t. If you were going to make the case that there’s a fair amount of fiction or at least exaggeration in this story, as some Christians do, what parts of the story would you use to defend that argument?
If you wanted to defend the story as a fact of history, what scenes in the story would you say sound absolutely plausible?
LIFE APPLICATION. The fact that Abraham lied to the Egyptian king about his relationship with Sarah suggests Abraham might not have trusted God 100 percent of the time. And the fact that God didn’t punish him seems to hint that God doesn’t require 100 percent trust 100 percent of the time—even from the Bible’s most trusting soul. When do people sometimes hold back on their trust in God, or at least figure that God might need a little help from us?