As we have seen, the second aspect of Abraham’s experience was living by faith. He had to live by trusting in God for his daily needs. In 12:10 we read that there was a grievous famine in the land. This famine was a test to see whether or not Abraham would trust in God in the matter of making a living, in the matter of his daily living.
If you examine 12:10-20, you will see that in this situation Abraham was weak and low. He failed to keep the God-appointed position and went down to Egypt. Behind Canaan was Babel, beside Canaan was Egypt, and close to Canaan was Sodom. Abraham moved gradually southward until he went down to Egypt. As we shall see, in Egypt he sinned by lying. Probably none of us would believe that Abraham could be so weak and low. God had appeared to him at Ur, at Haran, and at Shechem. At Shechem, God said to Abraham, “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (12:7). God told Abraham definitely that He was going to give that place to his descendants. Who was the God that spoke to Abraham? He was the Creator, the Possessor of heaven and earth. This was the very God that appeared to Abraham. When the famine came, Abraham should not have had any doubts but should have said, “I don’t care about the famine because I have the living God. I am not concerned about the lack of food because the One who called me, brought me here, and reappeared as a confirmation to my journey is the Almighty God. I have put my trust in Him and now I am living by trusting in Him for my daily need. I don’t care whether there is food or not.” Abraham should have prayed in this way.
However, what did Abraham do when the famine came? Did he pray? Did he say to his wife, “Dear, let us pray”? No, it seemed that Abraham forgot to pray. When such a period of testing came to him, he did not pray. Do not laugh at Abraham. When everything is going well, you find it easy to pray. But when the famine comes, you forget that you are a Christian and only remember that you are a human being. You forget the living God who appeared to you, only remembering that you have a stomach. Abraham was concerned about his stomach. He looked at the situation: in the land there was famine, and in Egypt there was plenty of food. Abraham and his wife did not talk very much. Immediately they both agreed to go to Egypt. I believe that even before they made this decision, they were already going downward. Both the husband and the wife forgot God. They did not consider where God wanted them to go. It was as if they had no God.
SINNING BY LYING • When Abraham and Sarah came to the border of Egypt, he said to her, “It shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive” (12:12). Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him and take his wife, Abraham prayed to Sarah, not to God saying, “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” (12:13). Abraham and Sarah agreed that she should lie about being his wife. Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his wife in order to save his life. It seemed that he had no standard of morality. Among Christians, Abraham has been uplifted too highly. He was not that high. Many of us would not have done what Abraham did. But Abraham was so low that he was willing to sacrifice his wife, allowing her to be taken to be the wife of another man, in order to save his own life. How shameful that was! Do you believe that God’s called one, the father of faith, could do such a thing? We see by this that Abraham was not higher than we are. At the most, he was the same as we are. For the sake of his stomach he was prepared to sell his wife, and Sarah submitted to this. She was certainly the best wife, the standard of all wives. She was submissive, took Abraham’s counsel, and did not blame him.
In this matter Abraham was a good prophet, for things happened in Egypt exactly as he had predicted. The Egyptians took his wife away to Pharaoh’s palace (12:14-15). In a sense, Abraham did sell his wife. Because of Sarah, Pharaoh gave Abraham many things—sheep, oxen, camels, menservants, and maidservants (12:16). Abraham became rich. I have been unable to understand how Abraham, seeing that his wife had been taken, could have had the peace to receive all of these things from Pharaoh. But he did receive them. He did not fast. He did not say, “Oh, I can’t accept this. I want Sarah!” No, he let Sarah go. I believe that Abraham was certain that his wife was lost, that she was gone. According to his figuration, Sarah was gone. More or less, he received as the price of letting her go the cattle, oxen, and servants.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)