Why Go Down to Egypt


10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

Genesis 12:10-13 NIV (New International Version)

Have you ever done something out of fear and then regretted doing it?  Fear often causes people to do stupid things.  For example, if you were afraid that you would lose you job because someone did better work than you; you may try to make yourself look better by telling lies about your “rival”.  Then you discover that you were not going to lose your job but now your reputation is ruined because of your smear campaign you had against your co-worker.   What is the source of all fear?  It is grounded on the belief that you will not have enough or that you are not safe in the world.  The case of Abram in this passage from Genesis 12, shows one way people handle their fear and the consequences from such actions.

God called Abram at the beginning of Genesis 12 and commanded him to leave his home and family, to go to a place that He would show to him.  The Lord also promised Abram that He would make him a great nation and a blessing to all nations.  Abram did as the Lord had commanded and when when he arrived to the designated place, the land of Canaan, he worshiped God by setting up an altar to God.  Why did Abram obey?  He believed in God’s promise; in other words, Abram had faith that God would protect him in this new land.  Then a famine hit the land.

Seeing that there was abundance in Egypt, Abram decided to leave the land that God sent him to.  Going down to Egypt on the surface seems like a logical course of action for if Abram stayed in Canaan, he and his household would die of starvation, or so he thought.  Notice in the passage that there was no instructions from God to Abram to go down to Egypt.  Abram went out of his own choice.  This suggests that maybe Abram did not feel confident that God would meet his needs and taking care of him while there was no food in the “promised land”.  He let his fear of the here and the now to dictate his choices rather that living by faith.

To do things because it seems logical is to be pragmatic.  Pragmatic people make choices based on the facts that are in front of them.   Many of us, at some time or another, when it comes to a fearful situation, make a pragmatic choice rather than trusting God to care for us.  After all, so the pragmatic would think,  I know what I am doing better than God can; the facts are what in front of me.  This kind of thinking can be very dangerous.

Pragmatic thinking is to live you life based on your fears and perceptions.  Such a living can lead a person away from God and turning them to rely more on their own wits and cleverness.  That was happened to Abram.  He went down to Egypt out of fear of death.  It was out of this same fear he convinced his wife Sarai to lie about their marital relations.    What ever happened to the faith that Abram had that compelled him to leave all that he knew to dwell in an unknown land?  It left the moment Abram decided to be pragmatic, and the root of it all was his fear.

If you and I ever focused on fear for too long it start looking bigger and bigger in our eyes. Out of this perception of the fear, we too would have probably done something similar to what Abram had done, or even worse.  What is to prevent us from being pragmatic and living in fear?  We must turn our eyes in the opposite direction, towards faith in God.  The Lord is bigger than any fearful challenge we may face; therefore we can trust Him to protect us from all possible dangers.  Therefore, let us stop looking around at the turbulence of this world that cause us to fear, and keep our eyes on the Lord and everything will be alright.

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