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EXEGESIS > Old Testament > Pentateuch > Genesis > Gen. 12:4-20

Do You Live in Egypt?
Gen. 12:4-20

Then Abram took Sarai his wife . . . so they came to the land of Canaan.

There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there.


Where do you live, not your residential address but your spiritual address? Is it Canaan, or is it Egypt, the land of promise or the land outside of the promise?

Abram was called by God and sent to Canaan, the land of promise (vs. 4-6).

Abram’s Life in Canaan (vs. 7-10)

* He experienced the presence of the Lord – “the Lord appeared” (v. 7)

* He heard the Lord speaking to him – “the Lord . . . said” (v. 7)

* He worshipped the Lord – “he built an altar to the Lord” (vs. 7, 8)

* He called on the name of the Lord – “called on the name of the Lord” (v. 8)

* He was faced with a famine – “there was a famine in the land” (v. 10)

When you are living in Canaan and while you are doing right, there can be a famine; when all is well, trouble can and does come.

What are you going to do when trouble comes? Abram went to Egypt. Canaan was the place of blessing, and Abram left that place.

Egypt is equated with the world and improper alliance (Isa. 31:1); it is the place of false gods, false worship, and false help.

No instruction for Abram to go to Egypt; he seemingly went on his own; he did what was natural, but to do what is natural is not always to do what is right; in the time of trouble, he trusted his own devices and resources.

Paradox: Canaan was in a famine but was still the place of blessing.

Abram should have focused on the God who sent him to Canaan rather than the famine in Canaan.

Abram’s Life in Egypt (vs. 10-20)

* To go to Egypt is to go down – “he went down” (v. 10)

It is possible for a man of faith to go to Egypt for a season.   To go down is to go away from the Lord; Jonah went down to Joppa and bought a ticket (Jonah 1:3).   No reference to the Lord appearing and speaking to Abram in Egypt; no reference to him worshipping and calling on the Lord; Abram had gone down.   It is dangerous to forsake Canaan for Egypt.

* To go to Egypt is to allow sin to enter that otherwise may not have entered – “say you are my sister” (v. 13)

* To go to Egypt is to look out for yourself – “that I may live” (v. 13)

In saying this he was justifying his lying; it was his good reason for doing wrong.

* To go to Egypt is to experience real trouble – Pharaoh took Sarah (v. 15)

Forsake the place of God and you may lose something precious.

* To go to Egypt is to experience humiliation – Pharaoh uncovered Abram’s scheme and lie (vs. 17-18)

* To go to Egypt is not to be forgotten by God – “the Lord plagued Pharaoh” (v. 17)

God had not forsaken Abram and God was at work in Egypt.

God’s determination was for Abram to be in Canaan.


When in Egypt the best thing to do is to leave; “Abram went up from Egypt” (13:1)

See: Gen. 15:1-21 - The Presence and Promises of God

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