He Holds Our Hand
With joy and expectation we open our hearts now to the living Word of the living God.
We continue in Genesis 12 which showcases God’s working in the life of his chosen servant, Abram.
You recall that it was after growing up in a family of idol worshippers Abram one day hears God calling him to a journey of faith.
“Leave your country, relatives, and father’s house.” And with that God promises him a 7-fold blessing including these unforgettable words: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed!”
What a staggering and far-reaching promise.
Not knowing where he was going, Abram obeys in faith!
God guides him, Sarai his wife and Lot, his nephew on a long 2,000 mile journey through Haran and all the way up into Canaan. That was to become the land of Israel.
There the Lord appears to Abram, and twice we are told that Abram builds altars to the Lord.
Hearing all that, we tend to think, “Wow. What a stellar example of a great hero of faith!”
For here’s a believer who seems to fully trust God, obey God and worship God!
Then we compare our own lives in the mirror of God’s Word. And what do we see? A perfect track record? Not at all. We see spiritual ups and downs, and our failing to trust God as we ought to.
And we can conclude, “We are light years away from Abram’s mighty faith in God.
You can silently wonder, “How can I relate to one of such impeccable faith?
“Is there any hope for me to be greatly blessed and used by God when I stumble and fall in the Christian journey?
Does God still want to use me even when I have failed Him and gone my own way?
The episode before us of Abram answers with a resounding, “Absolutely!” For here, when Abram desperately fails, God picks him up, teaches him a
great lesson, and continues to fulfill His plan
through his life. Genesis 12:10
“Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram
went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the
famine was severe in the land. 11 It came about
when he came near to Egypt, that he said to
Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a
beautiful woman; 12 and when the Egyptians see
you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will
kill me, but they will let you live. 13 “Please say
that you are my sister so that it may go well with
me because of you, and that I may live on
account of you.” 14 It came about when
Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that
the woman was very beautiful. 15 Pharaoh’s
officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and
the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16
Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake;
and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and
male and female servants and female donkeys
and camels. 17 But the LORD struck Pharaoh and
his house with great plagues because of Sarai,
Abram’s wife. 18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and
said, “What is this 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
for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her
and go.” 20 Pharaoh commanded his men
concerning him; and they escorted him away,
with his wife and all that belonged to him.”
Here we see how God does not give up on us
when we get off track in walking by faith. Instead
He uses these failures to grow our faith and
fellowship with Him.
This section of Abram’s journey includes 3 key
sign posts that mark our text:
We know that shortly after Abram and Sarai arrived
in Canaan, they encounter tough tests in the school
The cursed Canaanites still lived in the land.
And to make matters worse, the entire region is hit
by intense famine.
Why would God allow these things? Because He
wants to teach them and us something so vital in
our walk with God: “Tests often follow triumphs.”
For that reason, the apostle Paul cautions the
proud Corinthians saying, “Therefore let him
who thinks he stands take heed that he does
not fall” I Cor. 10:12.
Christian, when you have seen great victory, be on
the alert against temptation. For when it seems like
all has gone so well in your walk with the Lord, it’s
then you can so easily drift from the path of faith
and trust in yourself.
That’s Abram’s situation. He’s known great triumph
in his faith. Now, he’s in the southern Negev
region southwest of the Dead Sea.
And due to a lack of rain, famine hits the land.
So what does he do? Does he head back to Bethel
where he had called on the name of the Lord?
Does he fully rest in God’s promises to care for
Him and bless Him?
No, we are told, “so Abram went down to Egypt.”
At this point, there is zero evidence that Abram is
looking to the Lord for direction. Nothing about
prayer, trust, seeking the Lord’s will.
This helps us examine
1. The deception
Abram may not have felt he was departing from the
place of the Lord’s blessing. He may have felt
justified in leaving Canaan (where God had called
him to go) since we are told in verse 10, he only
planned to sojourn in Egypt.
In other words, “I’ll head back home to Canaan
once I get the food my family and flock need during
The nation of Egypt was seen as the granary
capitol of the ancient world. From artifacts
unearthed by archeologists, we know that Egypt
was already on the map three centuries before
Abram entered there, longer than the United States
The government of Egypt in the time of Abram
was in the most northern region of the country
known as the Delta. So Abram may have viewed
it as a trip just across the border from which
there was more to gain than lose.
However, the phrase “going down to Egypt” may well
suggest deviating from the path of God’s blessing.
Unless God commanded it (as we see in the case
of Joseph and Mary with the Christ child in fleeing
Herod’s sword), going down to Egypt often has
the sense of running to the world for help. It has
overtones of trusting in man and not God.
That’s exactly what the prophet Isaiah later warns
God’s people to avoid:
Isaiah 30:1–2 “Woe to the rebellious
children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a
plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but
not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin; 2
Who proceed down to Egypt Without
consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of
Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of
As the evidence unfolds before us, it will become
apparent that Abram is acting alone in this
decision rather than waiting on God.
Very importantly, his deception comes not only
from looking to the world but also looking within
himself for solutions.
Notice in verse 11, what was Abram’s fear as he
entered this foreign land of Egypt?
Verse 11 explains: “when he came near to
Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See
now, I know that you are a beautiful woman.”
Now, that would have been music to Sarai’s ears
hearing her husband praise her God-given
By the way, she’s not some young spring chick.
Sarai, being 10 years younger than Abram (Gen.
17:17) is at least 65 years old. For we know from
Gen. 12:4 that he was 75 when they left Ur.
How can we account for her beauty?
Since Sarai died at the age of 127, she is at this
point middle aged.
Calvin suggested that childless women preserve
their beauty longer than those who have
mothered children. I don’t believe Calvin’s wife
who had three children would not have
The Hebrew word for beautiful here (MAREH)
can imply a fair and attractive complexion.
Abram is convinced she would draw much
attention and tells Sarai: (v. 12) “and when the
Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his
wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you
Clearly, Abram fears being bumped off by some
Egyptians so they could take Sarai from him.
So, he devised what he must have thought was a
“sure fire” plan to outmaneuver the Egyptians.
He tells Sarai, (v. 13) “Please say that you are
my sister so that it may go well with me
because of you, and that I may live on
account of you.”
Women. Let me ask you. How would that sound
to you if your husband suggested that to you?
For he’s far more concerned about his well-being
than his wife’s.
And we would like to ask, “Abram, what are you
thinking?” Where’s your sacrificial love for your
bride? Aren’t you concerned about what could
happen to her?
His clear motivation in this scheme comes out:
“So that it may go well with me (not you!)” And
he even clarifies, “that I may live.”
In other words, honey. I don’t want to die, and this
is a way you have to help.
It’s selfishness. It’s compromise in the name of
pragmatics. It’s misguided thinking, the lie that
suggests that a good goal justifies deceptive
Now how does Abram think his cunning plan will
work? Here’s how.
He likely figures that if others thought he was
Sarai’s brother, then he would be able to delay
any possible marriage arrangements and even
escape with her.
It seems to be a tactic hoping to stall for time
Let there be no doubt in our minds. Abram is
asking his wife to lie.
For in Gen. 20:12 Abram explains of Sarai, “She
actually is my sister, the daughter of my
father, but not the daughter of my mother, and
she became my wife.”
Abram needs a reality check. If Sarai had the
same father yet a different mother, that makes
her only his half-sister.
So, it’s a half-truth which makes it a whole lie.
What puts the nail in the coffin is Abram’s goal in
his plan- to deceive the Egyptians into not
thinking Sarai is his wife.
That’s the essence of deception- it’s when we
deceive others by how we work our words, for
the sake of personal advantage.
It’s giving off wrong impressions, implying ideas
that are not accurate with our words, even willful
Deception includes falsifying reports, fudging on
numbers, and shading the truth. All that’s
deception and a lie.
Now, friends, how concerned was God over
Abram and Sarai’s deception?
And how significant is lying and any form of
deception in your life to the Lord who sees it all?
Listen to the Word of the Lord:
Proverbs 4:24 “Put away from you a deceitful
mouth and put devious speech far from you.”
Proverbs 12:22a Lying lips are an
abomination to the LORD
Proverbs 24:28b “And do not deceive with
Psalm 34:13 “Keep your tongue from evil And
your lips from speaking deceit.”
In the New Testament, Acts 5:1-11, recounts
what happens to Ananias and Sapphira, a
generous couple in the Jerusalem church who
deceived with their words. They compromised
the truth about the price they received for land
they had donated to the church. And what does
He strikes them both dead! God hates lying and
he cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Numbers 23:19 declares
“God is not a man that He should lie.”
Truth characterizes God and lies characterize
For that reason, Christ tells the unbelieving Jews,
“You are of your father the devil…. Whenever
he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own
nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Colossians 3:9 “Do not lie to one another,
since you laid aside the old self with its evil
You see, God is deadly serious about His
children speaking the truth. And so must we be.
Now, here’s the scary thing about deception.
When we are the ones who are deceived, we
don’t realize it. We don’t see how we have
sacrificed the truth on the altar of expediency.
In fact, for Abram this ploy of having Sarai tell
others she was only his sister. It hatched in his
mind long before he got to Egypt.
Let me show you where it began.
In Genesis 20:13 Abram tells Abimelech, King of
Gerar “And it came about, when God caused
me to wander from my father’s house, that I
said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you
will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me,
“He is my brother.” ’ ”
Amazing. That shows us this was their standard
operating procedure. “If we get in a jam, Sarai,
when we enter foreign lands, just tell people I’m
So clearly, Abram and Sarai have lots of room to
grow in their trust in the Lord. And so do we.
How did Abram’s deceitful plan work out for
them? Watch now how the deception turns into
2. Disaster 14-16
We find out in verse 14: “It came about when
Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that
the woman was very beautiful.”
That’s exactly what Abram had expected. With
regard to his plan, so far, so good. It seems to be
But the story turns an unexpected corner in verse 15:
“Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to
Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into
These officers of the Pharaoh wer struck by
Sarai’s captivating beauty- and they can’t wait to
tell Pharaoh all about it:
“You have to see for yourself. She will be the
perfect beauty queen in your royal court. And
come to find out, that old guy she’s with, he’s her
brother. So Miss Beautiful is good for the taking.”
Eastern kings claimed the privilege of choosing
whatever unmarried women they wanted for their
royal harems. And that exactly what this Egyptian
ruler proceeds to do.
What an shock to Abram. They come to take his
wife. And there’s no way he can take on Pharaoh
and all his men.
Sarai finds herself whisked away to the king’s
house. She can’t believe how she every ended up
here, hopelessly consigned to the life of a king’s
concubine. In fact the Pharaoh wants her to be his
O what a mess. Abram and Sarai are separated,
and they feel trapped in a nightmarish situation.
What though does the Pharaoh do to Abram?
Surprisingly, verse 16 tells us, “Therefore he
treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him
sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and
female servants and female donkeys and
Why such a lavish gift? Because it binds Abram
to the new relationship.
He is to be Pharaoph’s new brother-in-law, and
Sarai is now to be Pharaoh’s wife!
It’s like a dowry that formalizes his receiving her
into his house and harem.
Everything now for Abram and Sarai looks awful.
He managed to pass her off as his sister. That
backfired and now the king has taken her to be
That separated couple must have been haunted
by the question that plagued their minds:
“How did we ever get into this?”
Friends, this is the consequences of compromise.
It’s the wages of sin. It’s Galatians 6:7 looking
you right in the eye: “Do not be deceived, God
is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this
he will also reap.
It’s the warning Moses imparted to God’s
disobedient people in Numbers 32:23
“…behold, you have sinned against the LORD,
and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Charles Spurgeon put it this way, “God does not
allow His children to sin successfully.”
You say, but at least Abram got lots of animals
and servants out of the deal. Wasn’t that a
blessing? Not really. For those served as an
awful reminder to Abram of the foolish decisions
he had made and the consequences of that.
For his most precious earthly treasure, his wife, is
taken from him. And now he has a bunch of
animals and servants instead.
In future days, those would become a liability to
Abram. For his large flocks and herds would be a
cause of strife between him and Lot.
And one of the female servants (of verse 16)
whom Abram received from the king was likely
the one we later know as his Egyptian maid,
Hagar caused great pain and difficulty to both
Abram and Sarai.
Well, at this point in the story before us, it looks
as if God’s plan is thrown into jeopardy.
Yet, this is the time when we see God’s
intervention as he comes to
3. Discipline 17-20
When all looks hopelessly irretrievable, God
Verse 17: “But the LORD struck Pharaoh and
his house with great plagues because of
Sarai, Abram’s wife.”
God caused Pharaoh and his household to suffer
some awful physical malady that was severe and
Through these plagues, God prevented Pharaoh
from taking Sarai as his wife and violating her.
And friends, that is extremely wonderful not only
for Abram and Sarai’s marriage.
Through God’s direct intervention, God protected
His promise that through Abram (and that
included Sarai), He would make bless all the
families of the earth.
You see, what took place there in Egypt with
Abram and Sarai was an assault. An assault not
just against their marriage but against God’s plan
of redemption to bring Jesus through the line of
That’s the redemptive purpose and why God
stopped that attack by sending the plaques.
Such a powerful act of God anticipates how God
would once again send plagues in Egypt.
Plagues through which He would liberate His
people from the vicegrip of a future Pharaoh.
Well, God loves to rescue and protect His people
even in the midst of impossible situations.
That’s what King David celebrates in Psalm
105:13-15. “And they wandered about from
nation to nation, from one kingdom to another
people. 14He permitted no man to oppress
them, And He reproved kings for their sakes:
15“Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My
prophets no harm.”
God dealt with Pharaoh by means of the awful
boils. And watch how God uses Pharaoh to
Verse 18: “Then Pharaoh called Abram and said,
“What is this 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 for
my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her
Pharaoh grills Abram with questions. Questions
that give a strong and necessary rebuke
Abimelech gives Abram.
How humiliating, how painful as this ruler
exposes Abram’s deception.
Here’s what’s so ironic about this. Here we have
an unbeliever confronting a believer!
And Abram has nothing to say. No excuses. His
silence is an admission of guilt.
Pharaoh feared God, that’s why he doesn’t have
Abram killed. Instead verse 20 shows us he
wants nothing more to do with Abram or Sarai:
“Pharaoh commanded his men concerning
him; and they escorted him away, with his
wife and all that belonged to him.”
There’s great shame, egg on Abram’s face for
what he’s done.
Pharaoh has him deported from his country- he’s
kicked out of Egypt.
Oh, what an awful testimony this “man of little
faith” has shown himself to be.
Lying and trying to deceive that Pharaoh with
such an shameful stunt.
Here’s what’s baffling. Genesis 20 reports that
25 years later, Abram and Sarai will repeat
virtually the same brother-sister lie to King
Abimelech. And God again rescues Sarai from
But the deception doesn’t stop there. Abram’s
son Isaac in Genesis pulls the same deceptive
move and tells the king Rebekah his wife is his
What’s the point? It’s so easy for us to fall back
into familiar sins.
The proneness of our flesh gravitates to the place
of greatest weakness.
It shows us how we must desperately be
dependent upon the Lord particularly in
overcoming the sin of deception.
Christian, your heart’s longing must be that of
Agur as expressed in Proverbs 30:9, “Keep
deception and lies far from me.”
For it’s only by full reliance on the strength of God
that we can be victorious over the sin that so
easily entangles us.
Let me help you personalize from what we have
seen and answer the question, “How can I be a
doer of the Word?”
1. Don’t give in to fear and try to resolve things by
compromise. That only causes pain and
2. Deal with all areas of deception and self-trust
with honesty and humility before the Lord.
Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his
transgressions will not prosper, but he who
confesses and forsakes them will find
3. Determine in the Spirit’s power to walk in
obedience and keep far from the way of
compromise and sin.
4. Delight in the confidence, that if you are God’s
child through faith in Christ, He is faithful, and
despite your stumbling, will fulfill His purposes in
Psalm 37:23–24 “The steps of a man are established
by the LORD, And He delights in his way. 24When he
falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the
LORD is the One who holds his hand.”
Beloved, this isn’t just a call to hang on to the
Lord’s hand by faith. It’s confidence even though
you may trip and fall along the path of the
Christian life, it’s the Lord who holds you by the
In September 1939, Great Britain had entered the
Second World War. The nation was gripped by
fear and uncertainty as Nazi Germany was
King George addressed the nation by radio
broadcast on Christmas Day seeking to inspire
them with hope. And he did.
He reminded the citizens of the only true King,
the living God, who can provide true peace and
real rest in such troubled times. As King George
concluded his message of encouragement, he
read the preamble of a poem that had been given
to him by his young daughter, Princess Elizabeth.
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of
the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put
your hand in the Hand of God. That shall be to
you better than light and safer than a known way.
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod
gladly into the night.”
He Holds Our Hand
I Cor. 10:12.
1. Deception 10-13
2. Disaster 14-16
3. Discipline 17-20
How can I respond as a doer of the Word?
He Holds Our Hand