Summary: The phrase "go thy way" appears several times in the King James Version of the Bible. This first message speaks of Abram and how he got into trouble in a foreign land!
Introduction: Even the best of God’s saints will face problems at one time or another. Abram had his share of troubles, too, and the passage below gives a few details of one episode which Abram would probably just as soon forget! When famine came, Abram left the land of promise and wound up in the land of problems. This is the first time the phrase “go thy way” appears in the King James version of the Bible—ironically, it’s spoken by a pagan king to a saint of God!
The text comes from Genesis, chapter 12, verses 10-20, from the King James Version:
[Gen 12:10-20 KJV] 10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land. 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: 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. 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. 14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair. 15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What [is] this [that] thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife? 19 Why saidst thou, She [is] my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way. 20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Problem 1: the famine
Abram was living in the southern part of the “land of Canaan (Genesis 12:9)” when the famine took place. This famine, also, wasn’t the first or the last to affect this area, apparently, as another famine struck this land in Joseph’s day, over 100 years later. God recorded that story in Genesis 42 and 43, and related chapters. We aren’t told how severe this particular famine was, (just that it was grievous, according to verse 10) or how long it lasted. We can see that it was enough for Abram to leave the land of promise and head for a foreign land.
Clearly, Abram would make some mistakes in this situation. First, we don’t read in this passage that he asked the Lord what to do, or that he asked the Lord for relief. We shouldn’t be too hard on Abram, though, as he was probably a new believer, at best, in those early days of his walk with the LORD. We also find that he hadn’t had too much in the way of problems until this time. Now, we don’t read that he actually “believed in the LORD” until Genesis 15, some time and events later, but Abram still had enough faith to follow God’s leading: except in a case like this.
Problem 2: the falsehoods
Abram made another mistake, and caused another problem, just before he and his followers got to Egypt. He seems to have forgotten how beautiful Sarai was! So not only has he left the land where God led him, he’s about to make a blunder that could have cost him his wife! I wonder how he came to the conclusion that the Egyptians would kill a man for his wife (and thus, add a widow to who knows what) but would leave a man’s (unmarried?) sister alone. Regardless, he told Sarai to lie, saying, “He’s my brother”. We can read how well that strategy worked!
Sarai went along with it and promptly, it seems, was carried off to Pharaoh’s house (see verse 15). Pharaoh, it seems, wanted to buy or trade Sarai for a number of animals and servants—and not one word as to whether or not he would let Sarai return to Abram.
Again, Abram was in a problem of his own making here. He had not asked God’s guidance as to what to do or where to go when the famine hit. We don’t even know why he chose to head for Egypt, but we do know that God didn’t tell him to go there. He’s also in the dilemma of losing his wife, whom he had said was his sister. He had also soon realized, I think, that his falsehood had consequences. Maybe he had begun to lose hope that he’d ever see Sarai again? Lies and falsehoods are easy to make up, but are hardly easy to live through. Abram would be one of the first to testify to that!