1 Now Yahweh had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

The separation of faith

But first there must be the obedience of faith, as together they began this journey. This would be their story. Their faith would take them into the land, support them through their private diary of joys and tragedies.bringing them at last to the final triumph of utter conviction in God, and thus to the miraculous birth of their son. When faith and fulfilment were finally joined, the story was finished which began in Ur of the Chaldees.

"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee." (Genesis 12:1)

The first step was made complete in the journey to Haran that they might 'leave their country'. This second step away from Haran would mean that they must 'leave their kindred'. Later, the final separation from Lot would cause them to 'leave their father's house'.

So different would their lives be under God's providence, that their family associations would only bring the constraint of unbelief. Better then for faith to separate them to a new life and a new household whose spirit matched theirs. Messiah would know the same truth in his own life, and would remember Abram and Sarai's experience:

"But Jesus said unto them, a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house ... And he marvelled because of their unbelief." (Mark 6:4-6)

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs together

At the command of God, Abraham severed all his connections with his home and his native land, and went forth in simple faith, "not knowing whither he went."

Abraham's outstanding characteristic was faith. He is presented to us as the pre-eminent example in this respect --

"The Father of the Faithful."

Faith that hesitated at nothing and rose triumphant above every obstacle and natural sentiment and desire.

It is one thing to be so vividly convinced of God's closeness and reality as to be able to defy universal opinion and -- dropping everything -- to follow an unseen Voice through strange, wild lands for 1,000 miles with no idea of the destination or perils of the way.

It is an even far greater thing to wait more than twenty-five years in that alien land for even the first beginnings of the fulfillment of the promise that had drawn him forth. What were Abraham's thoughts as year after year rolled by, each one making the realization of the promise appear even less possible? He waited in faith.

Bro Growcott - Shall a child be born.

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Abram was 75 when he received the calling to head for the promised land v4

Alluding to this promise, the apostle says, that in making it, "the gospel was preached to Abraham" -- the glad tidings of blessedness to the nations, when Abraham and his descendants should be great, and renowned throughout the earth. Abraham believed this gospel promisorily announced to him by the Lord God.

Nor was his faith inoperative. It was a living, moving faith -- a faith through which he obtained a good report.

By the influence of the faith, which embraces the things hoped for, it is testified that Abraham

"when he was called to go out into a country which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. For he looked for the city having foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:8,10).

He turned his back on Babel, and with Sarai, and his nephew, Lot, and all his substance, he left his father's house, crossed the Euphrates and the Jordan, and entered the land of Canaan, still travelling onward until he arrived at Sichem, in the plain of Moreh. Having come thus far into the country, the Lord appeared again to Abram to let him know that he was in the land He intended to show him; and added this remarkable promise, saying, "Unto thy SEED will I give this land" (Gen. 12:7).

Let us pause here in the biography of Abram, and consider this promise. Here was a country, lying between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, in which were Abraham and all his house with his flocks and herds, and which was in the actual possession of warlike tribes, living in cities walled up to heaven; concerning this country, the Lord, to whom heaven and earth belong, said to Abraham, I will give it to thy Seed, when as yet he had no child.

But it is particularly interesting to know who is intended by Abraham's Seed in this promise? Is it the "great nation" spoken of in the former promise; or, is it some particular personage to whom the land of Canaan is here promised as an inheritance? I shall offer no opinion upon the subject, but let the apostile to the Gentiles answer the question. In writing to the disciples in Galatia about the inheritance, he says,

"The promises were made to Abraham and to his Seed. God saith not, And to seeds as of many persons; but as of one person, as it is written, And unto thy Seed, which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16).

The apostle tells us that the land of Canaan was promised to the Christ when God said to Abraham,

"Unto thy Seed will I give this land."

Let the reader, then, bear this in mind as one of the first principles of the kingdom. Deny this, and there is an end to all understanding of the truth.

Elpis Israel 2.2.

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The foundation promise

Breathtaking in the magnitude of the assurances it gave, it opened with a series of special blessings to Abram himself, blessings that would exalt his name through all the earth. Built upon these pledges of personal greatness and influence were further levels of fulfilment, which only time and the unfolding of God's purpose would reveal.

But even in its primary sense, the promise was huge, so extensive, so far-reaching as to make Abram the most important person to tread the earth in his day. Beyond his day, the promise would grow larger again, expanding and expanding until at the last it would gather into its embrace every living person in the whole earth. There had never been a promise like this one, and in certain ways it would never be equalled again. All this was vouchsafed to one man, in the wisdom of God.

But it centred on one crucial feature upon which every part depended. It all awaited the seed, the promised seed, the longed for seed. Until this special child came, the promise would remain latent but lifeless. Only with the birth of the seed could the wonder of the promise be unlocked, and for the child to be born it must first be conceived in the womb.

Abram knew with humble certainty of his own part in the promise. He had not yet understood that his wife was inextricably bound to the promise as well, for she, and she alone, was to be the bearer of the child. Yet how could he know this? His wife, dear companion as she was, still remained barren, and that after many years of marriage. Abram felt with reasonable certainty, that however this child might come into the world, it would not be through his Sarai.

The promise made to this one man, however, was also to be fulfilled through this one woman. Her involvement was vital. When, by and by, their true seed finally walked

among men, his teaching would establish the thought that Sarai's part in the fulfilment of the promise was every whit as important as Abram's. They were, as always, bound together in this most marvellous of God's promises to them.

Bro Roger Lewis Abraham and Sarah Ch 1

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

When the call came, Abram responded. There was no hesitation or delay. Indeed, they had been waiting for this next summons. Yet this time there were more than just the two of them. Their sojourn in Haran had been long enough for Abram to prosper, and a gradual enlargement of flocks and herds was matched by an increase in his household.

When Abram moved this second time therefore, there came with him a whole encampment, a travelling tribe who looked to him as their leader and chieftain, and who shared his spiritual values. Abram's spirit was seen in his servants, for those he met he touched with the excitement of his faith. 23

Sarai, in like manner, was a wise and spiritual woman in the administration of her servants. But how desperately she longed to be a loving mother also, to clasp her own babe to her bosom, to dandle her own son upon her knees.

When therefore this next part of their journey began, the mistress of the household stepped out with a glad and hopeful heart. For might not a new beginning in a new land bring with it the possibility of new life for her that had been called 'the barren one'? Sarai gave a little skip of happiness, and Abram smiled at her joy.

Providence also smiled with favour on their journey, for their travellings were blessed with safe passage. Their pilgrimage began with baptism as the entire household crossed over Euphrates with their master, and the legend of Abram the Hebrew was born. 24

23 So often those who had dealings with Abraham ended up in covenant relationship with him (Genesis 12:5; 14:13; 21:32).

24 This title appended to Abram appeared to be indicative of his status as a unique and special individual, marked out from this transforming moment in his life. Cp. Genesis 14:13 and 1 Samuel 13:7 where his faithless descendants showed the opposite spirit, and 'hebrewed' back over Jordan.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together

These 'crossers over' then struck westward, moving along the natural corridor that lay beneath the Taurus Mountains, and that Iinked the Euphrates valley with the Mediterranean. Here there was sufficient pasture to sustain the flocks of passing caravans, and Abram was glad to see his animals well provided for.

They had a long way to travel as yet Reaching the Orontes River they turned southwards to follow its journey upstream. Unlike the Euphrates however, which had at times borne their family in the merchant boats that plied its waters, the Orontes was largely unnavigable.Besides, his burgeoning household and herds made river passage impractical. They would continue to travel on the land; marching along the valley as it ascended slowly to the plateau country.

Between the two great mountain ranges of Lebanon and Anti Lebanon, the valley along which they travelled narrowed to form a deep but fertile cleft of rich grazing land. Abram was drawn inexorably southwards, the land itself providing successive signposts to the patriarch.

The continuing fertility that greeted him at each stage told him - 'this is the way, walk ye in it', and he was thankful to do so. Crossing beyond the watershed from where the Orontes flows north and the Litani falls south, the household of faith slipped between a break in the mountain heights, and descended into Damascus. Here the plain was so abundantly watered as to make Damascus an oasis of green, with abundant crops and luxuriant verdure.

It was a good place to rest, for man and beast to be refreshed, and for the household to restore its supplies. Flocks could only be driven day by day for a certain period. Then a time of respite was needed, to recruit their energies for the next stage. Damascus then, became such a resting place.

No heavenly message was forthcoming, however, to tell Abram and Sarai that this was their final destination. So after a period of peaceful sojourning, their journey began again. Yet their visit here was marked in history, for ever since the Damascenes would speak of Abram's stay among them, and acknowledge him with the deepest respect as a man of great renown. 25

One young man in particular would remember with gratitude the appearance of these travellers in their midst. For he, like others from Haran and elsewhere, fell under the influence of this godly couple, and gladly accepted an invitation to join their household.

Even they did not then appreciate how deeply faithful this young man would become, or how close they would grow to him. But this new found retainer would show that even a Gentile could walk in the steps of faith, and become a spiritual offspring of the patriarch, a true son in the faith. 26

When they left Damascus to travel south again, Eliezer travelled with them. He observed their procedures for the movement of the camp with a keen eye, and was impressed with the speed and efficiency of the household. Yet even so, there were some things that could be improved. When opportunity arose, he would speak with his master Abram.

25 Josephus records that even in his day the name of Abram was famous in Damascus, and that there was a village named - 'the Habitation of Abram' (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, chapter 7.2).

26 So trusted a retainer indeed in manifesting his master's spirit, that Abram was willing to declare him his de jure son and heir (Genesis 15:2,3).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs together

6 And [Avram] passed through the land unto the place [makom] of Sichem [Shechem], unto the plain [Elon] of Moreh. And the Canaanite [Kena'ani] was then in the land [ha'aretz].

7 And Yahweh appeared unto [Avram], and said, Unto thy seed [zera] will I give this land: [ha'aretz hazot] and there builded he an altar [ Mizbe'ach] unto Yahweh, who appeared unto him.

Their journey took them beneath the blue heights and snow-capped peaks of Hermon, the northern guardian of the land. Crossing Jordan below the waters of Merom, they began a steady march down the length of the land of Canaan.

The heart of the land lies in the mountains of the central plateau. Here they came upon the valley where Shechem would later nestle between the broad shoulders of Ebal and Gerizim. Rich black soil and an abundance of fountain springs helped to fill the valley with a profusion of gardens and orchards all bursting with fruitfulness.

Into this scene of verdant loveliness stepped the man and his wife, their delighted gaze resting upon these many signs of heaven's blessings of fertility and growth. On the valley floor there grew a prominent oak, surrounded by its offspring. This grove of trees 27 with spreading foliage for shade and shelter positively invited repose, and Abram was prompt to call a halt right here. The tents would be pitched beneath this leafy canopy, the flocks would settle within the shade, a brook betokened water aplenty.

It was here in this place of fruitfulness that this second promise was given. The promise was brief yet full. For it used with wondrous clarity the one word not used in God's earlier promise, yet the one thing that lay implicit in all that had been promised. Now, at last, there fell from the lips of the angel 28 the word that this couple fervently desired to hear,

"Unto thy seed have I given this land".

Abram beamed and Sarai cried. It was for them both a word of heart-rending joy. And the promise moreover was unconditional in its certainty. When Abram built an altar to offer the sacrifice of dedication, his mind was not just on the promise of the land, but also on the son who would be given the land, his boy, and, if they had understood the angel aright, Sarai's child.

A fervent prayer of gratitude ascended with the smoke, as Abram and Sarai stood together in thanksgiving on that day.

27 The word "plain" is elown in Genesis 12:6 indicating an oak, and possibly an oak grove given the fertility of the area (cp. Greens, RSV, etc.). A grove of such trees providing spreading foliage for shade would be a natural place for encampment, to stop and pitch tent.

28 For, of course, the divine manifestation that communicated with Abram on successive occasions was not the Father Himself, but His angelic representative, and on most occasions was probably Michael (Genesis 12:1,3; Exodus 23:20-22).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham Heir of the World

8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel [harah mikedem Beit-El], and pitched his tent, having Bethel [Beit-El] on the west, and Hai [Ai] on the east: and there he builded an altar [Mizbe'ach] unto Yahweh, and called upon the name [Shem] of Yahweh.

9 And [Avram] journeyed, going on still toward the south [Negev].

But as to when and how the promise might be fulfilled, the details as yet were not clear. In fact there were obstacles. The gardens and orchards that had so delighted their eye, were evidence that the land was already inhabited, and therefore could not be claimed by Abram or his seed.

Numerous settlements testified to the fact of the Canaanite's presence in the land. A profane race that dwelt under the divine curse, 29 these people did not share Abram's faith, and the man of God learned that, for the moment, he was still a stranger in the land.

Removing from thence, he came by stages to a mountain east of Bethel, and there another altar proclaimed his loyalty to the Lord amidst those who knew Him not. His special petitions to the Father doubtless asked for guidance on how he might live a life of faithfulness, surrounded as he was by the unfaithful.

Once again the encampment travelled south. Abram did not yet know the full extent of the land promised to his seed. 30 so his southwards drift was not an attempt to explore the limits of this territory.

Yet there was purpose in his movement. In the nomadic existence that they now led, it was normal to graze their animals until the land was bare, and then to move on in search of fresh pasturage. Southwards therefore now, but eventually by a continuous circling motion, old grazing grounds would be revisited once the good earth was renewed, and the herb and grass of the field had regrown.

And there was perhaps another reason. Abram was restless in spirit. 31 and seemed undecided as to where he might settle, especially with the Canaanites present in the land, a people avaricious in trade and immoral in behaviour.

His wanderings were not aimless however for he kept to the central mountain route, and followed. this into the Negev. These regions were sparsely settled. and thus provided extensive pasturage. But their chief attraction lay in the fact that the main centres of the Canaanites lay instead to the north and in the valleys far away from the patriarchal tent. 32

Abram was thus free to dwell apart as a separate people. Indeed his altars were a declaration that he and his household worshipped a different God, and led a different life. In the south country therefore he found room to live and room to worship, and was content to have it so.

29 Genesis 9.25

30 This detail would not be revealed until he entered into covenant relationship with God (Genesis 15: 18)

31 The narrative indicates this. Genesis 12:6, "passed through"; 12:8, "removed from thence"; 12:9, 'journeyed, going on still" (cp. margin).

32 McMillan Bible Atlas, Carta Edition. See notes to Map 27 - Jacob's travels in the land of Canaan.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

THE onset of famine came as a surprise. Having arrived in 'the land of promise', they did not expect such a time of trial, nor that the land should fail them. But it did. 1 Abram's flocks began to suffer, and he knew that unless they moved, all could be lost.

The very proximity of Egypt seemed to be a sign, and Abram perhaps had heard how the Nile's annual inundations guaranteed the crops of Egypt, even in a time of drought elsewhere. He could travel by the way of Shur, or take the coastal route of the way of the Philistines. Either would bring him to the 'granary of the ancient world', to grain and provender, and to Egypt therefore they would go.

The journey was not easy. The way was not especially difficult, but it was a sore trial to witness the death of oxen and sheep which, emaciated and exhausted, collapsed on the route. It was a relief to draw near Egypt at last. *

1    Genesis 12:10 states that there was not only famine, but a grievous one at that.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

Leaving his country and kindred at God's first call, and finally reaching the promised land, he had immediately encountered famine, and faced the prospect of starvation (Gen. 12:10). In search of food, he left the land and went to Egypt.

Should he have gone to Egypt or not? It is hard to say. Perhaps it was a well-meaning error of judgment, a misguided human effort to help along the Divine Plan, like the later attempt to provide a seed through Hagar. Perhaps, having been instructed by God to go to Canaan he should have stayed there until further directed, relying on God to provide. Later, in identical circumstances of famine (Gen. 26:2), Isaac is specifically warned not to go to Egypt, but to stay in God's land and trust to His care.

Looking back, we can see the spiritual significance in these instances, and it appears that Abraham's lessons and experiences are intended as a guide and warning to us. At any rate, he soon found that Egypt held greater perils than famine, and only the intervention of God averted a catastrophe (Gen. 12:15-20).

Bro Growcott - 'Shall a child be born'

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife [isha]: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

A concerned man and a comely woman

Not given to boldness or rashness, Abram was by nature a cautious man. In his dealings with others therefore, he had the foresight to anticipate difficulties before they arose, and to make wise provision to deal with them. There was a difficulty with his wife. She was beautiful, remarkably beautiful. And in what did this beauty consist?

Surely it was a compound substance. It was formed by some strange alchemy between sparkling eyes and gracious speech, between tender warmth and graceful tread, produced by some secret chemistry between decisive movement and restful stillness, between laughing wit and thoughtful silence. The result of this pleasing fusion in Sarai was a woman who at sixty- five 2 was still wondrously attractive. 3

Abraham realised that entering as they now were into a new and unknown region, would bring again the challenge of his wife's appearance. Sarai's loveliness would be manifest to all, and Abram was certain it would be noticed. He had lived with her for many years, and was not unaware of the admiring glances cast in her direction by the men of many different places. Even there they had seen enough to know.

Here in the land of dark skinned Hamites, the comparative fairness of Sarai, openly displayed and beautifully evident, was bound to arouse attention. It was that attention which deeply concerned Abram, because with it came danger. Drawing Sarai aside before they crossed into Egypt, he outlined his concerns and proposed his solution.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

The contrivance of fleshly fear

This was not a hasty solution concocted on the border. For even before their journey into Canaan, Abram had requested and she had consented to the arrangement now to be used. Travelling through strange lands with different customs and despotic rulers demanded prudence. In perilous situations therefore, they would act as brother and sister, at least until local circumstances became clear. 4

Nor was Abram's plan simply centred on his own preservation; it was perhaps the best strategy to safeguard Sarai also. For if she was the sister of a visiting chieftain, and became the unwilling but determined focus of attention from some Egyptian nobleman, certain formalities would have to be observed. If marriage were contemplated, it would be Abram's permission and approval that would need to be sought. In such a case there would be time for Abram and Sarai to leave the area, and move on. 5

It was a careful solution that bore all the hallmarks of careful thought, and all the subtleties of careful design. But for all its reasoned carefulness, it was grievously wrong. Its wrongness lay in the source of its inspiration, for this was not the outcome of spiritual thinking but the contrivance of fear. It was a plan that sprang from the exigency of his situation, but it recognised no spiritual dimension to the problem.

His thinking was wrong on several counts. The land from whence he had but recently come had been promised as a possession to his seed. 6 And given that his seed had neither been born nor even conceived, it was impossible for him to lose his life at this time. This was the real power of the promise that God would make of him a great nation.

His solution apparently solved his problem, but in reality it greatly increased the danger for Sarai, for it involved the withdrawal of his protection as a husband. In moving the threat away from himself, Abram jeopardized her position as the bearer of the promised seed. His action showed his lack of appreciation for the part she would play in the fulfilment of the promise, and his inability to see the real danger that could follow.

Moved by fear, he was moreover prejudging the character and standard of the Egyptians in an unfair light, and his assessment subsequently proved to be completely wrong.

The crowning irony of this fleshly plan was that in his concern about their lack of honour and integrity, Abraham himself was prepared to resort to the use of deceit. It is true that he and Sarai were related, but not perhaps in quite the way he proposed. And whatever was the exact nature of their family connection, their public statement was a lie, because it was uttered with the intention to deceive.

No word of prayer seemed to pass the lips of Abram in coming to this decision. 7 The Father's guidance had not been sought. But the Father was about to test this scheme, and discover its foundation. Abram's prescience concerning Sarai was confirmed, for her fair beauty was not only seen but also discussed in the highest quarters of Egyptian nobility, reaching the ears of the royal chamberlains.

Discreet enquiries had elicited her single status, travelling as she was under the care of her older 'brother'. And thus was set in motion a series of events which revealed to Abram the appalling weakness of his plan, and the folly of depending on self.

4 Genesis 20:13.

5 It would seem that Abram's fears were not groundless. There is in the British museum, an Egyptian papyrus dated after Abram which relates how a Pharaoh on the advice of his counsellors sent armies to take away a man's wife by force, and then to murder her husband.

6 Genesis 12:7.

7 Genesis 12:8, 13:4 and 13: 18 certainly imply other occasions where Abram sought God's guidance, but not so at the commencement of this episode.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together

15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.

It was the swiftness of the thing that surprised. For one day, one fateful day, Abram received an unexpected visitation from the princes of Pharaoh. Their message, simple and succinct, fell like a thunderbolt.

'It would please Pharaoh well for Sarai, your sister, to join the royal household. We are commanded to bring her'.

So there it was. No warning, no time, no room for prevarication. 8

Called by a breathless maidservant who came running with the message, Sarai appeared and walked towards Abram. She saw the princes, felt Abram's tension and looked swiftly to him hoping for some clue as to his feelings or intentions. But his eyes were downcast, avoiding her.

'You must ask her yourself' he said, and their request was now repeated for Sarai's benefit. She, likewise, was dumbstruck. Giving Abram a last glance of appeal she was startled to receive in return a look of naked desperation. He was indeed in an impossible situation.

He could raise no demur as a brother, and was powerless to refuse this royal request unless he was prepared to delcare as a husband. But to do this was to acknowledge deceit, and cause Pharaoh loss of face, and what outcome might that procure but death for either or both of them.

His eyes conveyed not faith, but fear, and something more besides. His look reminded her of their agreement, and sought for her submission to it. Now came the test of that pledge. His life depended on what she might say in that next moment.

In an instant she knew his need, and what she would do. Without hesitation, for even a pause could prove fatal, she turned to face the princes. Bowing low she acceded to their request. Her firm and gracious voice surprised even Sarai herself in its steadiness. 'I am much honoured to accept. But there is much to arrange, my possessions and garments to prepare, I will need time'.

'You need bring nothing' came the reply, 'the palace will provide all that you might need, but you are to return with us'. No chance then for fresh plans now, no opportunity for escape. They were completely caught, thoroughly entangled in their own device. Sarai took leave of her 'brother', and was gone.

Outwardly calm, the thud of her heart and the terrible shaking of her limbs told otherwise. The journey to the palace was but a dream, she would afterwards have no recollection of the route they travelled or the streets they walked. In a moment of time the palace stood before them.

8 Genesis 12:15: the word "taken" implies the decisive action of Pharaoh, irrespective of Abram's wishes or feelings. Covering a wide range of meanings including to snatch, acquire, carry off, seize - the Hebrew root (in the passive Hophal) conveys the meaning of being taken against one's will.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2 

A holy woman who trusted in Yahweh

When Sarai entered Pharaoh s house, she was taken immediately to the chamber of the women. But these were not the womenfolk of Pharaoh's menservants. Nor were they the maidservants of the palace who toiled in the royal kitchen or gardens. The women of these chambers were reserved for the king and his attentions alone.

Here then Sarai met the other residents of the household. There were many of them, all beautiful, elegant, vibrant, sad. For in these rooms, behind the laughing chatter the bathmas and anointings, the whispered secrets the sumptuous food and gorgeous apparel, there lay an indefinable air of wistful sorrow and constriction.

When a woman entered this household there would be no escape, no other life. The silken threads of royal protocol enmeshed her forever within the harem. Free to roam their private courtyards, she accepted the inevitability of imprisonment for life.

And if this was the world in which she was constrained to live, if purpose and meaning were only found within the confines of the harem walls, then the great object of private discussion and even more of private thought was to compare the relative merits of each member of the golden circle.

Into this strange and scented world Sarai came. Her senses told her without seeing that this process of comparison had begun. She was conscious of eyes beneath lowered lashes that studied her deportment, appraised her form, gazed upon her fairness and assessed her prospects.

There was danger here from more than one quarter, and the enormity of her predicament burst upon her. Sarai turned the problem over and over in her mind, but could see no solution. Unable to talk with Abram, unknown within the palace. unwilling to confide with any other woman. she felt an unutterable loneliness in facing this crisis.

Yet this loneliness bore fruit. It caused Sarai to turn to the only one from whom help could come. From her first sleepless night within these walls, she besought God in prayer. Her petitions were so focused and intense, that her mind was pierced with the pain of her grief, her pleadings so urgent and desperate that her body shook.

Her importunities left her exhausted, but at peace. She would trust in God. There was no other course. And borne aloft with the tender solicitude of angelic care, these cries of a faithful woman were heard in heaven above.

Even as she prayed, the divine providence was shaping the means for her complete deliverance. God was not unmindful of the anguish of his daughter. Had she but known it, her life was sacrosanct, her virtue safe from the very moment she had trodden over the threshold of Pharaoh's house. In God's good time she would yet be the bearer of the promised seed, and her womanhood was under the divine guardianship ere that day should dawn.

He who searches all hearts knows our prayers of course, before we even utter them. He does not require us to pray so that He might comprehend our need, but rather that in prayer we might come to understand our own need, and how deep and real it is.

And all response to prayer, in whatever form it comes; is based first on our appreciation that we acknowledge fully, unreservedly, that our lives and times are in His hands. Effectual fervent prayer is the privilege of all God's servants who pray earnestly in time of desperate need, and Sarai was about to learn that her own prayers offered in this spirit would avail much indeed. 9

9 James 5: 16

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

16 And he treated Avram well for her sake: and he had [acquired] sheep, and oxen, and he asses [male donkeys], and menservants, and maidservants [avadim, and shfachot], and she asses [female donkeys], and camels.

These had been terrible days for Abram.

His household had grown in number, yet bereft of his wife it was empty. At night the loneliness of the tent reminded him of his dreadful failure as a husband, and of Sarai's present danger.

There, kneeling or prostrate within the sanctuary of the curtains, in the one place where he could be truly private, he implored heaven for guidance out of this hopeless predicament, wept tears of remorse and shame, and trembled with a worry that shook his frame like an ague.

Awaking each morrow, the fear would return which fitful sleep could only ever briefly assuage. Yet for the present, until a way became clear, the facade would continue. Pulling aside the tent flap each morning, he stepped outside as Abram the chieftain, and the day's duties began. The round of daily tasks, constant and pressing, helped deaden the mind to other concerns.

Looking to the state of his flocks and herds, and knowing well the needs of his household, was a charge still to be fulfilled. Its performance each day, however, only reminded Abram that he had, through his weakness and lack of faith, lost the dearest member of his household. It was only with a supreme effort that he was able to master his emotions and accept with apparent pleasure the copious gifts that now flowed from the palace.

Time and again over the ensuing days and weeks 14 the men of Pharaoh would appear, their faces wreathed in smiles, and bringing 'a gift from our lord, Pharaoh'. Each time Abram would offer the appropriate words of thanks, whilst inwardly his mind recoiled with horror...

For these were not innocent, unconditional presents, given out of affection for him, they were dowry offerings; they were the price of his wife. Misery of miseries, this wretched deceit.

"Say ... thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake"

he had asked Sarai, and now it had come to pass, for Pharaoh

"entreated Abram well for her sake".15

But this was not what Abram had intended, and certainly not what he expected or desired. Yet the circumstances of the moment meant that he found himself unable to refuse, even though he wished to. Only later would he show a clearer faith that declined those gifts where his integrity might be compromised. 16

Now it seemed that finally these visits had ceased, although Abram was not exactly certain why. His unease was compounded by reports from the royal palace.

Word had come that affliction lay upon the household of Pharaoh. There were whisperings of sudden illness, virulent and contagious, that had swept the palace. Was Sarai safe? Was she among the stricken? Was the illness fatal? Was their secret discovered?

How many things he needed to know. How helpless was he in his ignorance. If only the way forward might become clear, but what path should he tread in the meantime?

14 Genesis 12:16 in Rotherham's Emphasised Bible implies some passage of time for the accumulation of the gifts which flowed from Pharaoh -

"and with Abram dealt he well for her sake, so that he came to have flocks and herds".

15 Genesis 12:13,16.

16 Genesis 14:22,23.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

17 And Yahweh plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues [Bais with nega'im gedolim] because of Sarai Abram's wife [eshet Avram].

There may have been purification rites that kept her from Pharaoh until now. 10 But a more dramatic event showed Sarai clearly that God knew of her plight. 11

''And Yahweh plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife." (Genesis 12:17)

The laughter and noise had ceased from the chambers of the women. 12 Both the beauties of the harem and the maidservants who waited on them were alike smitter, and fearful. Only one woman appeared untouched amidst the atmosphere of pestilence. Sarai, serene anc strong, was alone in her wellness, strangely immune to the all-pervading affliction.

Kept beyond the reach of the plague, Sarai knew immediately that the matter was of God, and she felt the trembling weakness of relief Her pleadings had been heard and mightily answered. From this time forth she would always be aware of the power of prayer and the reality of God's watchful care.

Whatever entreaties Abram might have offered, the Lord had answered her prayers, and for her sake. It was an earnest of the promise that still seemed fresh in its newness -

"I will curse him that curseth thee".

To Sarai, no less than Abram, did this promise of divine protection hold true.

But this singular exemption, which told Sarai so surely of God's intervention, told Pharaoh with equal certainty of her connection with the problem. 'Who is this woman'? 'Why', came the answer, 'she is the sister of the Hebrew chieftain recently come'. But had he not observed due protocol in obtaining this woman? And had he not blessed the man with handsome gifts? Why then this calamity, and how exactly was this woman involved?

Strange circumstances these, for a woman to move freely among the stricken with no trace of fever or plague. By what power was she shielded? What unseen hand protected her? Pharaoh pondered. There was need for caution here until the thing could be unravelled, for that there was a tangle was certain.

Brought before Pharaoh, and faced with his skilful yet courteous probing, Sarai resolved to speak the truth. Emboldened by evidence of the divine hand, and encouraged by the demeanour of the king, she told the whole with candour and simplicity.

Where guile had failed, honesty now succeeded. But more than anything else this was the triumph of her submission. Sarai's astonishing spirit had rescued her family. Through it, Sarai delivered herself, her husband and her household. 13

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

18 And Pharaoh called Avram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? [isha?]

19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? [achot?] So I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

An angry Pharoah and a just rebuke

Abram's daily round was at length interrupted, and this again by palace visitors. When Abram saw Pharaoh's men his heart sank. Gone now were the gracious smiles that accompanied each successive gift. The men who stood empty-handed before him were grim faced and abrupt - 'Pharaoh calleth for thee'.

Their stance plainly showed that he was to go with them, immediately, and flanked by this unsmiling guard, he was marched out of his encampment. Abram's journey to the palace retraced the route that Sarai had taken. He followed her footsteps, and felt her fear.

The palace was forbidding in its majesty. Imposing steps formed a broad ascent and led the eye upwards to the entrance. There, like standing sentinels in rank, massive stone columns rose in uniform splendour to hold aloft a giant stone pediment. The stupendous magnitude of these portals proclaimed that within was a dwelling place for not just a man, but one who was a god to his people.

Abram stepped between the pillars and beneath the portico, and entered the palace. The sudden dimming of the light matched his own increasingly sombre mood. Through chamber and court, Abram was marched at last into the royal presence of he who was in very truth the ruler of all Egypt.

Resplendent on his throne, attended by his vizier and surrounded by his court officials, Pharaoh awaited his approach and the customary obeisance that belonged to the lord of the lotus kingdom. As Abram bowed low, arose and looked toward the throne, he beheld in Pharaoh a stern and angry man, and could taste the nausea of fear. A silence, palpable and frightening, enveloped him. Finally Pharaoh spoke.

"What is this"? "Why didst thou not"? "Why saidst thou"?

Abram was challenged with a barrage of indignant questions, and rightly so. How sharp the sting when we receive a merited rebuke from those in the world, who, lacking our Scriptural insight and spiritual standard have nevertheless behaved themselves more nobly and justly than we in a matter of principle.

...Honesty, even in extenuating circumstances, is a godly virtue, but there are moments of trial that can call every principle into question. Abram's faith had faltered at this moment in his own life, but under an extremity that few of us will ever be called upon to match.

Out of his lapse and subsequent recovery however, he would learn a valuable lesson. Abram would not only learn that he needed to hold fast to the way of truth, but that dishonest behaviour brings the truth itself into disrepute. Honesty of principle and practice is a characteristic of those who are true strangers and sojourners among the Gentiles. 17

'As for Sarai', expostulated Pharaoh, 'so might I have taken her to me to wife'. His mind had not been on a casual liaison, but rather the offer of genuine marriage. What a precarious situation was this? Into what jeopardy did this place the 'bearer of the seed'? Thankfully Pharaoh, although ignorant of the truth, had sufficient integrity to repudiate an adulterous union.

He rebuked Abram not only for deception, but because that deception had almost led to further sin... Pharaoh's point-by-point examination of Abram's position did not allow an answer. Indeed there was none. Alone and ashamed he stood for sentence, his bowed silence the witness of his guilt, the charges unanswerable, his case indefensible.

Given Pharaoh's sovereign right to try the case, what might his judgement be?

..."behold thy wife, take her".

Royal mercy... filled his heart with thankfulness and humility. He felt justly reproved, yet graciously released as a debtor forgiven. Where now his doubts in the power of God to rescue from danger?

17 Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:1,2; 1 Peter 2:9-12. Interestingly, Peter's terms "strangers" and "pilgrims" are identical to those in the LXX of Genesis 23:4 concerning Abraham towards the end of his life. Perhaps this is an indication that the final encomium from Abraham's contemporaries affirmed that he was indeed a man of honesty.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2 

Not for Abram to know that Pharaoh's judgement was tempered with caution and not a little fear.

Beneath the royal robes, the royal body was itself afflicted. 18 He urgently needed to rid his household of whatever curse had befallen it through Sarai's presence there. If in reuniting her to Abram he could restore his household to health, yet appear to have judged with authority and power, then his standing as ruler would be enhanced.

And if in returning the man's wife he could shame and reprove him, then it would help expedite his departure from Egypt without delay. Pharaoh was an astute man, and judged to a nicety how the matter might best be handIed.

So his extension of mercy helped to create a spirit of humble embarrassment in Abram, before making demand for his exodus. And if Abram's chagrin before Pharaoh was not enough, there was burning shame to come with what followed.

"Now therefore behold thy wife".

A group of Pharaoh's men advanced then parted, and from their midst, moving with the graceful step he knew so well, there came his wife, but no, another woman, his Sarai, yet no, a stranger attired in Egyptian linen, adorned with Egyptian amulet, anointed with Egyptian paint.

As he saw the fold of harem robe about her body, and caught the elusive scent of harem oil upon her person, he realised with a fresh stab of fear what peril he had placed her in. How could he have deserted her in this way? What had he been thinking? What terrors had she faced...

"Behold thy wife"

...Sarai walked towards him, and Abram found himself engulfed in a tumult of bittersweet emotions. Excited thankfulness at seeing her again jostled with shock and horror at her appearance. Unutterable gladness for her safety ...Wondrous joy at receiving her back competed with sharp anxiety about her feelings now for him.

It was almost too much to bear to look at her directly. What might her eyes reveal? Accusation or forgiveness? Hurt or love? Pain or understanding? Oh what infinite complexities of thought and feeling can be woven into a single moment of time.

18 Note the expression - "and Yahweh plagued Pharaoh and his house with plagues" - Genesis 12: 17.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Dismissal and departure from the land of darkness

Pharaoh's words of dismissal, stern and abrupt, curtailed the moment. Sarai stood now at his side.

"Behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way."

There was no time now for words of recrimination or reconciliation. There was not even time for an awkward embrace. Time simply to bow out of the royal presence with seemly haste.

The journey back to their encampment offered no chance for talk. Pharaoh's men walked with them. 19

The call of Abram brought retainers running, as he issued rapid instructions for the break up of the camp. Sharpwitted servants saw their mistress safely returned, heard the brusque urgency of their master's voice, observed the presence of the royal guard, and knew that safety for all depended on speed. In seconds the household was a bustle of activity.

Strong youths pulled up the heavy stakes and cords and the dwellings of Abram sank into flatness. Children ran over the last billowings of the curtains and trod them into obedience. Women packed utensils, folded the tents, stored food. Men began the lading of the camels, and the strapping of leather bags onto braying asses. Boys scurried off to round up their precious flocks, while girls mothered the babies and scolded the little ones.

Amidst the shoutings and calls, the bleatings and cries, Sarai slipped quietly back into the sanctuary of her own household. She felt the warm comfort of her own folk, and was soothed by the practiced routine of departure which now surrounded her.

There would be time alone with Abram later. For now she would immerse herself in the tasks brought to her for decision and approval. Abram likewise moved among his people, conferring, directing, nodding in agreement, delivering new orders, and in a short time the jumbled welter of noise and person was resolved into order and harmony.

The entire household was ready to leave and, departing with surprising swiftness, they left their place of sojourn in Egypt. A bare expanse of sand and scuffled soil was the only visible sign that Abram and Sarai had been in that place, a silent witness to the turmoil of this moment in their marriage.

All circumstances in life end with this little patch. The crisis comes, we wrestle with principle and practice, the moment ends, our lives move on, and naught but the empty spot remains. Yet what we have done there, and why we have done so, is forever written in the book of account.

On each successive page in the record of our ives, we have opportunity to write but once. How vital then that every episode be written up with care, and that each circumstance we face be handled in accordance with divine principles. In the providence and wisdom of God, this particular episode had finally come full circle.

19 Urgency implied by the narrative - Gen 12: 19,20

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2 

Even the courtesy of the escort that Pharaoh provided, had as its real objective the guarantee that Abram was beyond Egypt's borders and gone for good. Pharaoh need not have been concerned. Abram had long since realised his mistake in coming to Egypt. 20 and he would never return again. 21

With every step away from the land of sin and darkness, his feet grew lighter, yet his tread more firm. And there walking by his side was his beloved and faithful wife, who had shown a more resolute spirit of faith than he in this episode.

One day Abram would be known to his people as 'the father of the faithful'. But his faith had not yet reached that fulness of maturity. When it did, he would also know with glad certainty and heightened appreciation that this remarkable woman who trod the road with him was indeed 'the mother of the faithful', his equal and his counterpart.

20 It is at least a mark of his faith that he never intended to stay in Egypt. Cp. the temporary term "to sojourn there" (Genesis 12:10) with the more permanent expression, "dwelled in the land" (13:12) once he had returned.

21 Certainly there is no record in the Scripture of him doing so.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 2

The Pharaoh of Abraham was not an idolator, such as Paul describes among the Gentiles of his time; for Egypt, at that time, was not polluted with the polytheistic abominations which afterwards obtained under the Pharaoh of Moses and his successors.

The Scriptures do not say that the Canaanitish nations were idolatrous at this time. In Chaldea, Abraham's relatives served other gods (Joshua 24:2), which is proof of that country's priority in idol worship, and where it is supposed to have originated. Much might be said on this point, but time forbids the deviation.

Gross immorality obtained among the descendants of Ham (Gen. 18:20), but idolatry is not, at that time, mentioned. Afterwards, when Joshua entered Canaan, idols were to be seen (Deut. 12:2),—(please read the Scripture references in connection wherever given in this article) but there is no record of anything of the kind in Abraham's journeyings.

He reared an altar to Yahweh (Gen. 12:8; 13:18; 14:17–20), in each place of his dwelling, and was not molested. Melchisedec, king of Salim, who was a priest of the Most High God, blessed him; and Abraham, Paul says, accepted the blessing (Heb. 7:6), and the king of Sodom joined in his thank-offerings.

It may also be observed that the war between the Assyrian and Canaanitish kings was an issue between idolatrous and non-idolatrous nations. Further, in order to show the declension of Egypt and Canaan into gross idolatry was a work of time, we call your attention to the reason given by God to Abraham for delaying the promise of the land to his descendants, was that "the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full."—(Gen. 15:16.) This fulness, matured at the expiration of 400 years, when Joshua went up to take the country.—(Deut. 12:2.)

Again, Abraham exhibited no fear from Pharaoh on account of idolatry, though he did on account of Sarah's beauty, which led him to dissemble in regard to her, and represent her as his sister. Pharaoh submitted to the Lord's plagues, and respected the connubial relation of Abraham and Sarah. There is no allusion to the "gods of Egypt," as the Pharaoh of Moses (Ex. 5:2; 12:12), and finally Abraham went up out of Egypt "very rich in silver and in gold."

Bro. Sintzenich

The Christadelphian, Dec 1873