Abraham Still in the Shallows

Read: Genesis 12:10-20

And when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake. (vv. 12-13)

The other Sunday I was about to preach on the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and was dismayed to hear the whole of Genesis 12, not just the first part, being read out to us. Sure enough, several people waylaid me afterwards to ask accusingly why I hadn’t said anything about the really intriguing second half of the chapter!

Abraham’s behavior in Egypt does raise questions. But I think my one or two questioners who seemed to be actually shocked by it were being a tad unrealistic. To be called by God doesn’t turn anybody into an instant paragon of virtue. Abraham’s would be an ever-deepening faith, and these were early days. He was still paddling in the shallows.

“Trust and obey” was the watchword. He had trusted God to bring him to the Promised Land; possibly he should have trusted that even in a time of famine he would be provided for in Canaan, and certainly he should have trusted that if he did go to Egypt, he would not need to resort to half-truths in order to be safe there.

He was going to fail the same test a second time (Genesis 20), so clearly it was a lesson he needed to learn. But he had a patient Teacher. —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to help you learn the lessons you need to learn.

About the Author

Rev. Michael Wilcock was formerly director of pastoral studies at Trinity College, Bristol, and vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Durham. He is now based in Eastbourne, England, as a writer and speaker.