Alive and Our Being Alive in God: Part Two – Our Inevitable Struggle Between Faith and our Failures. Genesis 12:10-20

Genesis 12:10-20Amplified Bible

10 Now there was a famine in the land; and Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive and severe. 11 And when he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “Listen: I know that you are [a]a beautiful woman; 12 so when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me [to acquire you], but they will let you live. 13 Please tell them that you are [b]my sister so that things will go well for me for your sake, and my life will be spared because of you.” 14 And when Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was very beautiful. 15 Pharaoh’s princes (officials) also saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken [for the purpose of marriage] into Pharaoh’s house (harem). 16 Therefore Pharaoh treated Abram well for her sake; he acquired sheep, oxen, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord punished Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her and go!” 20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him on his way, with his wife and all that he had.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.


The time between God’s promise to Abraham and its fulfillment spanned about twenty five years!  During that time, Abraham made several wrong attempts to help God fulfill His promise.  There were times, also, when Abraham made some decisions that revealed a definite lack of faith and decisive distrust in God. 


Despite obvious failings amidst his successes, Abraham is a wonderful example of a man who lived by faith but continued to make mistakes in judgement.  The bottom line is we’ll fail yet God continues to remain faithful to His promises to Abraham, even in the midst of Abraham’s bad decisions and faithless choices. 


We are told there are two ‘inevitables’ in life: death and taxes.

In leading with your life as a follower of Christ, I believe there are two other ‘inevitables’ we need to be more acutely aware of as well: faith and failure.

As Abraham’s descendants today, we will still inevitably and faithfully fail our God. Thankfully though God’s faithfulness in the face of our inevitable failures is, only but by the indescribable grace and faithful mercy of ABBA God still true. 

For His promise to us is still, “Let not your hearts be troubled” “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (John 14:1; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Our failures in our faithfully living for God will never deter God’s promises!

But now we come to Genesis 12 verses 10-20 to a time of failure in Abram’s life.

II. The Failure of Abram (Genesis 12:10-20)

Though he began with faith, a time of trouble leads to disobedience and doubt.

It all begins with growing, maturing sense of desperation, a time of famine.

12:10. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.

I do not know if Abram should have gone to Egypt or not.

The way this part of the story reads, it sounds to me like it was a bad decision on Abram’s part to go to Egypt.

Nowhere do we read in the scriptures is Abram directly or indirectly condemned for his decision to go down to Egypt, but later developments, as made evident in this passage from Genesis, makes it clear his actions did not stem from faith.

Abram did not consult God, but acted independently.

No altars were built in Egypt which are mentioned, nor are we told that Abram ever called upon on the name of the Lord that he and Sarai should journey there.

His request of Sarai [later in the passage] also reflects his spiritual condition. It would thus be safe to say that Abram’s faith failed in the face of that famine.”

So we can’t be certain, but it seems that God wanted Abram to stay in Canaan – even with a famine.

Where God guides, He provides.

It was not God’s intention for Abram to leave Canaan and go to Egypt.

Now a time of testing had come upon Abram.

Not a time of plenty, but a time of wanting.

A time of famine.

Abram faced a choice.

He could stay in the land God had called him to, and trust in God to provide, or he could leave the land and trust in man, specifically the Egyptians, to provide.

Abram did what most of us do in times of trouble.

Abram trusted in man.

Abram stopped believing in God’s promises, and left for Egypt.

Through this whole chapter, we read of God speaking to Abram to tell him where to go.

We read of God appearing to Abram.

We read of Abram building altars and calling on the name of the Lord.

We read none of those things here.

In a time of trial, Abram ignored the promises of God, turned to Egypt for help.

This will become a pattern for Israelites.

Later, in another famine, Jacob and his entire family moves to Egypt.

This eventually leads to the enslavement of the Israelites to the Egyptians.

During the time of the kings, many of them made alliances with Egypt through marriage or treaties rather than trusting in God for help.

Many of the prophets warned the people of Israel about turning to Egypt for help rather than turning to God.

All of this began when Abram, the man of faith, turned to Egypt rather than turning to God.

This shift in trust leads to another failure.

He begins a pattern of lying.

Genesis 12:11-13. 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. 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. 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 knows that his wife is beautiful, and that Egyptians are notorious for wanting to marry the most beautiful women.

If there was a husband in the way, it was okay to murder that husband.

So Abram concocts a lie to tell the Egyptians.

He is going to ask his wife to lie for him, so he asks her by beginning with a compliment.

Hopefully, we men compliment our wives more often than just when we want something from her.

Here, Abram wants Sarai to lie for him.

It really is only a half lie, for Sarai is Abram’s half sister (Genesis 20:12).

This is how Abram justified his lie.

It’s a little white lie.

What could it hurt?

It is also a pragmatic lie.

If Abram tells the truth, he might end up violently losing his life.

But notice what this lie does.

It not only reveals a lack of trust in God’s promises, but it also threatens their fulfillment.

In Genesis 12:10, Abram begins to trust in the Egyptians to keep him alive, now Abram is trusting in his wife.

I heard one pastor preach, “Abram was clinging to his wife’s petticoat for protection and blessing, rather than to the promises of God.”

Not only this, but his actions were a direct threat to his wife’s purity and the fulfillment of God’s promises.

God promised descendants to Abram.

Inherent in this promise is a promise that neither Abram or Sarai would not die until this promise is fulfilled.

20/20 hindsight being what it is with all of the commentaries we have to judge,

We can probably say Abram was not wrong in considering the possibility that someone would appreciate his wife as more beautiful and desire her for a wife.

Absent the cultural, historical context, we can probably also judge that it was not even wrong to suppose that someone might even kill him to marry her.

If we were doing an after-action debriefing with him, Abram was wrong to assume that this would happen and that the only way to prevent it was to lie.

Nowhere is the sure, certain promise and the protection of God considered.

Sinful deception is therefore begun before any real danger is ever experienced.

Abram has stopped trusting in God, and is fearful of a some danger not even encountered yet, and so turns to his own plans to provide his own protection.

Notice from Genesis 12:12 that Abram only thought the Egyptian men would find Sarai attractive.

And it was a common occurrence for men to murder other men just to get their wives.

Abram wanted to avoid being murdered so he decided to use this half truth about Sarai being his sister.

In such a situation, Abram, posing as Sarai’s brother, could agree to a marriage, but would insist on a long betrothal period.

Then, when the famine in Canaan was over, they could just pick up and leave.

No harm done.

It was the perfect plan.

But as the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

In verse 14, things seem to begin just fine.

Genesis 12:14. So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful.

Abram was right.

He had a beautiful wife.

The Egyptian men saw her and thought she was beautiful.

Many of them are probably thinking of marrying her.

So far, Abram’s plan was working out just right.

But something happens in Genesis 12:15 that Abram never counted on.

Genesis 12:15. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.

It never entered Abram’s mind that Pharaoh might be interested in Sarai.

While Abram could put off the plans of other men, Pharaoh would not take no for an answer.

He took her into his palace, awaiting the time of the consummation of the union.

Part of this involved giving gifts to Abram.

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

During this time, Sarai would likely undergo a relatively long period of preparation for her presentation to Pharaoh very similar to the preparation Esther went through before presenting herself to King Ahasuerus (Esther. 2:12-14).

Can you or I imagine the lonely, agonizing nights Abram must have spent, wondering what was going on in the palace?

Abram had asked Sarai to lie so that it would go well with him (verse 13).

And it did go well.

Pharaoh sent many gifts to Abram and treated him royally.

The only thing which kept Abram from enjoying his treatment was the realization of what it meant.

Pharaoh was giving these things to Abram as a dowry.

It did go well with Abram, but without Sarai, his wife.

I believe you and I can see ourselves doing an intervention here: Prosperity is never a blessing without the peace which comes from being right with God.

But God is not thwarted by lies, doubt or our mistakes.

His promises are not so easily broken by man.

He made promises to Abram, and although Abram has stopped trusting in those promises, and is living in sin and deception, God intervenes, not only to protect Sarai and Abram, but also protect the faithful fulfilling of His promise to them.

Genesis 12:17-19. But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 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? 19Why 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.”

Abram was confronted by Pharaoh and soundly rebuked.

Abram had no excuse or explanation.

So far as we are told, he did not utter a word in his defense.

No doubt this was the wise thing to do in the light of Abram’s offense.

Pharaoh was not one to be challenged or angered unnecessarily.

Today, we can see the raging irony of the situation is obvious.

Here is a pagan correcting a prophet (cf. 20:7).

It was a sharp royal rebuke that Abram would painfully remember.

How sad, however, that Abram could not dare to speak, for this no doubt hindered any testimony to his faith in the living God Who had called him.

Christian conduct in the face of adversity does greatly affect their credibility.

Genesis 12:20. So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.

We see here the patience of God with Abram, for Abram comes away from his mistake with more blessings and riches than when he came.

Abraham becomes richer than he was.

This is a curious discipline.

You would think that God would discipline Abram in a different way.

Rather than make Abram richer because of his lack of trust, you would think God would make Abram a bit more poorer and then to make him more wiser.

Well, these extra riches are double-edged.

Negatively, this is probably how Abram received Sarai’s maidservant Hagar.

When it comes down to it, every failure significantly impacts a relationship because any degree or measure of personal failure in life involves people.

We will read later his marriage to Sarai was negatively impacted. how Hagar inevitably becomes a great stumbling block to Sarai and Abram later in life.

for it is through Hagar that Abram risks making his greatest mistake ever.

But the positive aspect of this blessing is that it shows God’s great love and patience with Abram.

God is not out to destroy and punish Abram for his lack of trust.

No, God is showing Abram love and patience.

God is showing Abram longsuffering and kindness.

Even when Abram stops trusting in God, and makes his bad decisions, God continues to watch over Abram, and even bless him despite those decisions.

Today, we might even conjecture as to how foolish Abram’s fears must have appeared in the light of history.

In order to avoid a famine, Abram was forced to face down a Pharaoh.

The might of Egypt was not employed against him, but was commanded to assure his safe arrival in Canaan.

Indeed, Abram left Egypt even richer than he had come.

But none of this was the result of Abram’s faithless and dishonest actions.

It was the product of undeserved grace and mercy and providential care.

I am not saying you should go out and sin to see if God will bless you even though you’ve sinned.

That’s not the lesson of this story.

Possibly, Abram would have been much more blessed if he had stayed in Canaan.

Maybe many of the Canaanites would have left, and Abram would have received some of the land right then – we really don’t know what would have happened.

The point of this devotional account is God remains faithful to us, even when we are faithless.

Above it all, most of us literally have no desire to be known as ‘failure experts’.

And He can bless us, even when we are “experts,” have PhD’s in being wrong.

Hebrews 12:4-11Amplified Bible

A Father’s Discipline

You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have [a]forgotten the divine word of encouragement which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,
And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him;

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,
And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].”

You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for [b]what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and without discipline, in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate children and not sons [at all]. Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we submitted and respected them [for training us]; shall we not much more willingly submit to the Father of [c]spirits, and live [by learning from His discipline]? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for only a short time as seemed best to them; but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].

Sometimes He does discipline us, for He disciplines those He loves.

But sometimes He wins us over with grace and mercy.

He teaches us to be faithful to Him by revealing His faithfulness to us.

This is a step forward in Abram’s faith development.

He has learned that God is a God of love, not of fear.

He has learned that God is a God of abundant blessing, not of destruction.

He has learned that God keeps His promises, even when we do not.

When our faith no longer knows where to look, God’s eyes are 100% upon us!

When our faith slides, slips and stumbles, God does not!

When our faith falls asleep, enters a coma on us, God remains awake!

When our faith plants us on our faces on the ground and fails, God does not!

Abram has learned when God promises the end, He also provides the means.

You and I do not, and cannot, accomplish God’s will with evil methods.

These are wonderful truths for Abram to have learned, and will aid him as he continues to grow and develop into the father of faith we all know and love.

As we close out 2022 and prepare ourselves to enter upon a New Year in 2023;

Are you and I anticipating, expecting, facing a time and a season of testing?

Can you and I safely say God has called you and me to something, and all it seems is He has called you and me into a time of true faith versus famine?

Keep trusting.

Do not short circuit the test.

If you and I try to bypass the test, God will just make you and me face a different test in a different way in a different place to achieve the same outcome for God.

If Abram had been given the choice of tests – a life lived through a famine or his wife in a Pharaoh’s harem – we can rest sure he would have chosen the famine.

And then in the end, Abram had to go back to living through a famine anyway.

Of course, he had been abundantly blessed by God with more animals and more servants to aid him, but the famine just made it more difficult to feed them all.

When God puts you and me in a faith versus famine test, do not try to bypass it.

Just pass it.

Do not sidestep it.

Walk through it.

Abram has gone from faith to failure, and now back to faith.

It is an oft-repeated, much cyclical lesson, we can learn much from ….

by our inevitable faults, the magnitude of our failings and failures ….

– by our faithfulness to God in prayer – we will see how long it lasts.

Immanuel, Immanuel, His name is called Immanuel ….

God with us,

God within us,

God revealed in us ….

God being revealed through us ….

His name is still, to this day and beyond, called Immanuel ….

John 17:6-12Amplified Bible

“I have manifested Your name [and revealed Your very self, Your real self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept and obeyed Your word. Now [at last] they know [with confident assurance] that all You have given Me is from You [it is really and truly Yours]. For the words which You gave Me I have given them; and they received and accepted them and truly understood [with confident assurance] that I came from You [from Your presence], and they believed [without any doubt] that You sent Me. I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and [all things that are] Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 I am no longer in the world; yet they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name  which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and protected them, and not one of them was lost except [a]the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

Do not fear becoming a ‘failure expert’ and allow it to paralyze you from learning to lead with your life.

Faith-filled, Faithfully Learn through all degrees of failure how to lead your own life well by recovering from your failure for Jesus has prayed for you.

There is nothing more beautiful to Jesus than to see His prayer to His Father answered in and through you, through your failings and through your raisings.

He knows there is a source of strength to be found in those who recover from their failure. 

All because they have come to know through recovery that their source is Him.

The One who prayed for firm faith to remain in Him before they ever wiped the fruit of the vine from their “leaking lips” and promptly went out and failed.

Our Struggle between Faith and failure is always an inevitable one for all of us.

Genesis to Revelation – all the promises of God remain 100% faithful and true!

The war has already been won so you may win your battle.

If maybe today, you are one who feels like a ‘faith in God failure expert’

I now join with God, the Father, Son, Spirit, in praying that you recover well.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

O Lord, Mighty in Power, equally mighty in grace and mercy and forbearance, You say that I should have faith in You so that I will be upheld. I do, Mighty Lord. I give over the full measure and weight of my failings and failures over to you. I place all my faith in You. You strengthen me. Your divine life force keeps my spirit alive and burning fiercely for You. I know that with You I can overcome anything. Thank You for remaining faithful to Your chosen people. Thank You for guiding me in my life and helping me to become a vessel for Your will. I pray that I may continue to put my faith and trust in You because You know all things. You know what the hearts of Your people need, and I believe You will help me through whatever this life brings. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum!

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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