Genesis 12: Was Abraham A Liar? Seeing the Truth in Genesis!
(Ver 1.3) Today is a subject that contains some very deep water concepts. As you can see from my diagram in this post, these are warning signs concerning water hazards. So please be advised that this is an advanced Bible study lesson with some new concepts that forces you to get into things that may be over your head. So many times I have heard ministers in the pulpit accuse Abraham of being a liar because of one story in the book of Genesis that they clearly misunderstood. In this story, we find that Abraham is faced with what he perceives as a threatening situation and he makes a decision that many have thought was a lie. But, what we have is an example of how preachers can take a part of a story and try to make it the whole story and as a result they have jumped to some erroneous conclusions and an incorrect interpretation of the Bible. I do not attack these preachers personally, I just attack their ignorance. Truth will always prevail if you want to see it. We will pick up with the story of Abraham starting in Genesis chapter 12 and verse 11:
Gen 12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
We can see in this verse that Abraham is traveling about and he comes near the country of Egypt. Abram begins to speak to his wife and this is where it starts to get good. Abram tells his wife Sarai that she is very beautiful and this must have been the truth. No one that I know of has ever questioned the beauty of Sarai his wife.
Gen 12:12 Therefore 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.
Abram begins to speculate and imagine some very negative things as he approaches Egypt. Egypt is a type of the world, if you did not know that, keep that in mind as you read accounts in the Old Testament about Egypt. We can see that Abram’s fear is that the men of this country will see how beautiful his wife was and kill him in order to take her to be theirs. So Abram was very concerned about his own personal well being and safety and did not think much beyond that, it appears. So Abram comes up with a plan or so the ministers said, he lies about who his wife was.
Gen 12:13 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.
We can see that Abram asks his wife to tell everyone that she is his sister and not to mention that they are married. Abram thinks that he will be spared and be safe if anyone in Egypt wants his wife Sarai. So this was Abram’s plan, a plan or work of some sort of alleged deception to save himself from being killed, or was it? You see if you only read these verses and come up with a sermon based upon this limited information you would probably conclude that Abraham was a liar. That he out of fear chose to purposely lie to a group of people because he was afraid of being killed. This would in affect make Abram a type of Satan, the deceiver. I just can’t go along with that picture because it doesn’t fit his character. Nowhere in the Bible that I know of is Abram ever called a liar. So if God does not call Abram a liar, I do not feel it is right that a preacher should call him a liar. So we have to come up with another explanation or interpretation of the verses or at least some more information that helps us to understand what the real truth is about Abram and Sarai. So we continue to read the book of Genesis and we read chapter after chapter and finally come to the answer later in Genesis 20. During these chapters and this time period, Abram and Sarai have a lot happen to them. God changes their names. Abraham enters into a covenant with God. But, it seems that Abraham repeats the same plan when he comes to another country called Gerar, ruled by Abimelech the king of Gerar. We can see that Abraham didn’t learn very much from his Egypt experience and he repeats the same plan.
Gen 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
So Abimelech believed what Abraham said, that she is my sister and he takes Sarah to be one of his wives. God again saves the day and keeps the king from doing anything to Sarah with a dream.
Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
Apparently God frowns upon one man taking another man’s wife. I guess that is putting it very lightly since God told Abimelech that he was a dead man. Apparently God thinks it is very serious to take another man’s wife. That would be a very strong lesson for many Christians to learn, I don’t think God has changed his mind any time in the last 6000 years. So as we continue down the chapter we discover that Abraham gets his wife back and he is not killed. God saves the day again and preserves the linage of Christ. But did Abraham lie? We still haven’t resolved the situation or the circumstances that he was faced with. I believe the answer to the question and the solution to the problem is finally solved by reading Genesis 20:12:
Gen 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
You see from this verse the solution to the problem that Abraham never lied. Abraham did marry his sister. However, she was a half-sister, the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother. Abraham had a different mother than Sarah, but she is still called his sister, legally and truthfully. Abraham could call her, his sister and omit the wife part and still not be called a liar. If you omit part of the truth and only tell a different part that is true, what would you call that? I call it being very tricky. I do not defend what Abraham did at any time. It seems if it was not for God saving the day that Sarah would have ended up in someone’s harem. God is faithful though to save them both.
I had one reader write me a comment that Abram was guilty of the sin of omission. In other words by not telling all of the truth he committed a sin. I thought that was an interesting misinterpretation of the Bible again so I spent time studying the subject in more depth. I looked for any scripture that said withholding information was a sin and I could not find any. Then I went and studied the subject of deception and I learned some new things found in the Bible that are very profound. While Satan is called a deceiver, the Bible does not indicate that every deception is a sin. I could give you more examples found in the Bible, but I wrote a blog on this subject and you should go and read that to find out more about the subject of “Righteous Deception“.
We can really learn a whole bunch from this story of Abraham if we look for it. I will not go into all of it, but I will tell you that Abraham is a type of Christ a picture of Jesus the man born of the natural woman Mary. God is both the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ. Mary is Jesus’ natural mother in the flesh. The church is called the spiritual children of the “heavenly Jerusalem” in Galatians 4. We can see that if there is a spiritual mother there also has to be a spiritual father in order to have spiritual children. So the picture of Abraham as being a type of Christ with the same father of his wife Sarah, but with different mothers, actually fits the pattern given to us of Christ and the church. The Bible is full of little complex imbedded hidden truths like this. If you understand how to look for them you can learn a lot. In another blog I told you that Jesus married his sister. I told you that Solomon was also a type of Jesus and that 3 or 4 times in the book of Songs that Solomon calls his lover bride to be his sister. Interesting isn’t it? Why are things like this written in the Bible for us to figure out? So I’ll end this blog with a picture diagram of Abraham’s family and hopefully you will that this is a pattern of another family that I will talk about in the future:
Posted on February 23, 2010, in Bible Study, Genesis and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Covenants, creation, Genesis, Interpretation, Jesus, marriage, Prophecy, Religion, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.