Category Archives: genesis 12

God rewards dishonesty

Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 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, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.’ When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.

But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, “She is my sister”, so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and be gone.’ And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had. Genesis 12:10-20

You notice what’s missing in this account? Any criticism of Abram. Pharaoh, who acts with complete honour, is cursed, and Abram is richly rewarded – blessed – by God for his dishonesty. Same happens again, with the same trick, in Genesis 20. It seems God rewards this man twice for dishonestly using his wife as a sexual lure to take advantage of a rich man.

A nasty reminder

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

One of my paradigmatic verses; the blessing of the people of God is designed to overflow – blessed to be a blessing. How many times have I used this verse, explicitly or implicitly, in my preaching? Probably not more than the stars in the sky or the sand in the desert, but not so far off…

And how many times have I made reference to “the one who curses you I will curse”? Zero.

Sometimes this “read the text more closely” isn’t as much fun as others.