When you think of “purpose,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably you’re own individual purpose. You might think that the most important thing to consider today is your purpose, but that’s not actually true. The most important purpose to consider is God’s purpose.
If your life was a book, you would not actually be the main character of the story – God would be. The world is always trying to put our own purposes at centerstage. The Bible, however, reminds us of the truth and helps us to see the reality that God’s purpose is the most important purpose.
What we’re going to see in Genesis 12:10-13:1 is God making sure that His purpose came about in Abram’s life.
God’s Purpose for Abram
Earlier in chapter 12, God spoke to Abram:
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
– vv. 1-3
You’d think that everything would be great if you received such a lofty purpose. But, this was not the case for Abram. As we read on into verse 10, we see that “there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.”
Was it wrong for Abram to leave the land God had promised him? It’s not clear. This Scripture doesn’t address this, but what we know is 1) there was a famine and so 2) Abram went to Egypt to live like a refugee.
Abram’s Purposes in Egypt
“When he was about to enter Egypt, [Abram] said to Sarai his wife, ‘I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. …'”
– vv. 11-12
Coming into a foreign land with a lot of people and possessions, Abram felt pretty vulnerable. He was concerned that the Egyptians might murder him and take his wife and everything else. So he came up with a plan:
“Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”
– v. 13
Abram explains his reasoning a little more in Genesis 20:11-13. What we learn is that Sarai was indeed his half-sister – so it was deceptive though not completely false. Another thing was that this plan was a premeditated, ongoing policy and that he did not expect to lose Sarai by following it. Was it right or wrong to do this? Well again, this Scripture doesn’t say.
God’s Purpose Prevails in Abram’s Life
What happened after Abram decided to go through with this scheme?
“When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.”
– vv. 14-16
So Abram’s prediction did sort of come true. The Egyptians saw Sarai as beautiful and he became rich because of it. Unfortunately, Pharaoh took Sarai to be one of his wives. This put God’s purpose in jeopardy because the great nation He promised was supposed to come through Abram and Sarai. But, God intervened:
“But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.”
– v. 17
God had promised Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse” (12:3). And here we see Him holding true to this promise. Pharaoh dishonored Abram by taking Sarai, so God afflicted him with plagues. Once Pharaoh figured out what was going on, he said to Abram:
“What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.”
– vv. 18-19
So Abram left Egypt. He got Sarai back and held onto everything the Egyptians had given him (v. 20-13:1). Abram’s plan worked, but more importantly, God’s purpose prevailed.
What Does It Mean for Us?
The original readers of this story was Israel – God’s special nation. Like Abram, they had had an inconvenient stay in Egypt (although much longer) and were now on their way to the Promised Land. For them, the takeaway from this story would have been that God was going to accomplish His purposes no matter what. And this is our takeaway too.
God’s purposes prevail. This means two things for us:
We need to submit to God’s purposes. There are many purposes we pursue that are not promised to us. We aren’t promised successful careers, easy lives or comfortable retirements. But we often try to cram God down into these purposes instead of submitting to His purposes. How do your purposes for your life align with God’s purposes? This is what it means to follow Christ as Lord.
We need to trust that God’s purposes will prevail. God’s purposes will prevail in the entire world, despite anger and violence (Psalm 2:1-4). God’s purposes will also prevail in your life. Good things and bad things will work together to accomplish God’s purpose in your life if you are a Christian (Romans 8:28, 30). We can trust that God will use our decision-making to bring about His purposes (Proverbs 19:21).
Let’s wake up each morning thinking, “Today, God is building His kingdom of Christ-like people. Today, He’s going to make me a little more like Christ. I might experience inconvenience or danger, but I can know that God’s purpose for me will succeed no matter what.”
What was God’s purpose for Abram’s life? (Hint: Genesis 12:1-3.)
Do you have any thoughts about Abram’s deceptive plan in Egypt?
What are God’s purposes for the world? For Christians?
How do you need to submit to God’s purposes?
How can you trust God’s purposes in your life right now?
Anything stand out to you in this message? Have any questions? Please let us know in the comments below.