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Abraham deceiveth Pharaoh. 10 And there was a famine in her before Pharaoh : and the the land : and Abram went woman was taken into Pharaoh's down into Egypt to sojourn house. there; for the famine wus griev- 16 And he entreated Abram ous in the land.
well for her sake : and he had 11 And it came to pass, when sheep, and oxen, and he asses, he was come near to enter into and menservants, and maidserEgypt, that he said unto Sarai vants, and she asses, and cahis wife, Behold now, I know mels. that thou art a fair woman to 17 And the Lord plagued
Pharaoh and his house with 12 Therefore it shall come to great plagues because of Sarai pass, when the Egyptians shall Abram's wife. see thee, that they shall say, 18 And Pharaoh called AThis is his wife: and they will bram, and said, What is this kill
me, but they will save thee that thou hast done unto me? alive.
why didst thou not tell me that 13 Say, I pray thee, thou art she was thy wife? my sister : that it may be well 19 Why saidst thou, She is with me for thy sake; and my my sister? so I might have soul shall live because of thee. taken her to me to wife : now
14 And it came to pass, that, therefore behold thy wife, take when Abram come into her, and go thy way. Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the 20 And Pharaoh commanded woman that she was very fair. his men concerning him: and
15 The princes also of Pha- they sent him away, and his raoh saw her, and commended wife, and all that he had.
The advantages of chastisement. Strange it must have seemed to Abraham, to meet with famine in the land, to which God had removed him out of his own country. And strange to be a sojourner in the land of promise, whilst yet it was not his own. But thus it is that God often suffers us to experience want for a season, intending to give us afterwards the fulness of joy. And it is thus that He would have us use that inheritance of the earth which He promises to the godly, not as owners, but as sojourners, who must needs pitch our tents here for a time, but who look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Heb. 11. 10. 6 And Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there ; for the famine was grievous in the land." Thrice was life preserved in God's church by means of Egypt; once in Abraham, once in Jacob and his family, once in Christ. God knows how to bring good out of evil. He can make the wicked minister to his own glory, and to the welfare of his saints. They who for any cause are compelled for a
time to sojourn in the tents of the ungodly, must endeavour to turn their stay to these holy uses, the good of their brethren, and the honour of their Lord.
We grieve to think that this was not the case with Abraham. We are surprised to find him suppressing the truth out of the fear of man, when he had been ready to count all things but loss out of love towards God. But this is to be continually noted in the history of God's chosen şervants, that they were liable to fall, and have fallen. And of this we need to be continually reminded, that One only is good, and that is God. Abraham did indeed speak the truth in point of form. Sarah was indeed half sister of Abraham, the daughter of his father though not of his mother. See ch. 20. 12. And at a time when it was common to have more wives than one at once, the children of the different wives formed families so totally distinct, that they were not forbidden to intermarry. But in such a case the relationship, and the name, of sister, was lost in that of wife. And he that should represent such a wife to be his sister, with a view to conceal that she was his wife, was as clearly guilty of falsehood, as if there had been no relation before marriage. For the guilt of falsehood lies in the intention to deceive, and in the slight which the deceiver puts upon the presence of God. As if He did not hear every word we say, and know every thing, whether it be true or false! As if He ought not always to be esteemed by us as the ever present Witness of our works and words, who will bring all hereafter to judgment !
The Egyptians at this period appear to have preserved some knowledge of God, and of their duty. Abraham was apprehensive that they would most unwarrantably put him to death. And yet he was persuaded that they would not take his wife whilst he was alive, if they knew her to be his wife. And when their king discovered his mistake he seems to have shrunk from the very notion of committing such an offence as adultery. The decay of true religion amongst mankind was gradual. And the chastening hand of God was even yet readily discerned in the Egyptian court. How happy then ought we to be in receiving such chastisements from God, as prevent us from disobeying his commandments! How thankful, if we have at any time been falling away from our convictions, to be reminded by ever so sore a visitation, that there is a God which judgeth the earth !
Lord, rather let us suffer by any plague than that of sin ! Rather let us encounter any evil than thy displeasure ! Rather let us lose goods, or life, sister, brother, wife, or husband, than lose the sense of thy constant presence, and the joy of doing thy blessed will !
Abraham and Lot are separated. 1 And Abram went up out and beheld all the plain of Jorof Egypt, he, and his wife, dan, that it was well watered and all that he had, and Lot every where, before the Lord with him, into the south. destroyed Sodom and Gomor
2 And Abram was very rich rah, even as the garden of the in cattle, in silver, and in gold. Lord, like the land of Egypt, 3 And he went on his journeys as thou comest unto Zoar. from the south even to Beth-el, u Then Lot chose him all the unto the place where his tent plain of Jordan; and Lotjourneyhad been at the beginning, be- ed east: and they separated themtween Beth-el and Hai; selves the one from the other.
4 Unto the place of the altar, 12 Abram dwelled in the land which he had made there at the of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in first : and there Abram called the cities of the plain, and pitchon the name of the LORD. ed his tent toward Sodom.
5 And Lot also, which went 13 But the men of Sodom were with Abram, had flocks, and wicked and sinners before the herds, and tents.
LORD exceedingly. 6 And the land was not able 14 And the LORD said unto to bear them, that they might Abram, after that Lot was sedwell together : for their sub- parated from him, Lift up now stance was great, so that they thine eyes, and look from the could not dwell together. place where thou art northward,
7 And there was a strife be- and southward, and eastward, tween the herdmen of Abram's and westward : cattle and the herdmen of Lot's 15 For all the land which thou cattle : and the Canaanite and seest, to thee will I give it, and the Perizzite dwelled then in to thy seed for ever. the land.
16 And I will make thy seed 8 And Abram said unto Lot, as the dust of the earth : so that Let there be no strife, I pray if a man can number the dust thee, between me and thee, and of the earth, then shall thy seed between my herdmen and thy also be numbered. herdmen; for we be brethren. 17 Arise, walk through the
9 Is not the whole land before land in the length of it and in thee? separate thyself, I pray the breadth of it; for I will give thee, from me: if thou wilt take it unto thee. the left hand, then I will go to 18 Then Abram removed his the right; or if thou depart to tent, and came and dwelt in the the right hand, then I will go plain of Mamre, which is in to the left.
Hebron, and built there an al10 And Lot lifted
tar unto the LORD.
How to choose our dwelling place. How often does wealth lead to strife! How many times are they who possess abundance disquieted by means of those very
possessions, which are looked up to by others as the source of peace and satisfaction! Happy are they, who in the midst of plenty have respect unto the Giver of all good gifts, and who, like Abraham, when they have the choice of a whole country, prefer the place where they have built an altar at the first, and there call upon the name of the Lord. The home in which we have been used to dwell, and the church in which we have been used to worship, these have charms which are not easily surpassed by all that wealth can offer in exchange. And they who like the father of the faithful, are looking for a heavenly country, though they are free to go wherever God calls them, prefer to stay where they are used to be on earth, that they may be less distracted in their journey towards heaven.
And what a powerful argument was this of Abraham with Lot, that there should be no strife between their herdsmen; “ for we be brethren !" What a lesson to brother Christians not to strive, either by themselves or by their servants ! “And the Canaanite, and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” And have we not many dwelling in our land now, who stand by, and triumph in the dissensions of professing Christians? And ought not this also to weigh with us, and constrain us to be agreed? Ought we not for very shame, if not for love, to give the right hand of fellowship to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity? “Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan.” It was kind and courteous in Abraham, to be willing to please his nephew rather than himself. It was rash in Lot to be pleased with the fine country of the plain, without sufficiently considering, that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” And yet how many, if they had now to choose, would act on the like principles, would look to pleasantness of country, and fertility of soil, rather than try to avoid evil communication, and to profit by edifying society! Oh when shall we be sufficiently aware, that nothing is excellent, nothing pleasant, except in proportion as it alienates us from sin, and brings us nearer into company with God ?
The Lord repeats his promises to Abraham, now bereft of the society of Lot. If we have chosen God for our portion, however we may lose the presence of friends and relations, He will never leave us nor forsake us. - When my father and my mother for. sake me, the Lord taketh me up.” Ps. 27. 12. While Abraham, who had no son, was bereaved of his nephew, God promised to make his seed “as the dust of the earth," for number, and to give them the whole land in which he dwelt for an inheritance. When most alone, as far as our brother men are concerned, we feel to be most close in communion with God. When we have little or nothing else left on earth to love, we have so much the more room to love God entirely, and all our fellow creatures for his sake. And He, so much the more, if we truly love Him, delights to give us comfort, peace, and joy.
The war of the four kings with the five. 1 And it came to pass in the Kadesh, and smote all the coundays of Amraphel king of Shi- try of the Amalekites, and also nar, Arioch king of Ellasar, the Amorites, that dwelt in HaChedorlaomer king of Elam, zezon-tamar. and Tidal king of nations ; 8 And there went out the king
2 That these made war with of Sodom, and the king of GoBera king of Sodom, and with morrah, and the king of Admah, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shi- and the king of Zeboiim, and nab king of Admah, and She- the king of Bela (the same is meber king of Zeboiim, and Zoar;) and they joined battle the king of Bela, which is Zoar. with them in the vale of Siddim;
3 All these were joined toge- 9 With Chedorlaomer the king ther in the vale of Siddim, of Elam, and with Tidal king which is the salt sea.
of nations, and Amraphel king 4 Twelve years they served of Shinar, and Arioch king of Chedorlaomer, and in the thir- Ellasar; four kings with five. teenth year they rebelled. 10 And the vale of Siddim was
5 And in the fourteenth year full of slime-pits; and the kings came Chedorlaomer, and the of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, kings that were with him, and and fell there; and they that smote the Rephaims in Ashte- remained fled to the mountain. roth Karnaim, and the Zuzims 11 And they took all the goods in Ham, and the Emims in of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Shaveh Kiriathaim,
all their victuals, and went their 6 And the Horites in their
way. mount Seir, unto El-paran, 12 And they took Lot, Awhich is by the wilderness. bram's brother's son, who dwelt
7 And they returned, and in Sodom, and his goods, and came to En-mishpat, which is departed.
The result of choosing plenty with the wicked. This is the first recorded instance in all history of nation warring against nation. And this war appears to have arisen from oppression on the one side, and rebellion on the other. Most opposite are both these practices, oppression and rebellion, to the spirit of the Gospel, which provides a twofold security for peace; first, forbidding those who have strength to use it for purposes of oppression; and secondly, enjoining such as are in subjection by no means to rebel. So profitable is peace on earth towards attaining peace in heaven! So much ought we readily to sacrifice of the advantages which lie here within our power, in order to gain those which are there placed within our reach!
But a propensity to oppress and to resist, a pleasure in strife and in revenge, these are natural to the heart of fallen man. So