The Failure of Abraham (Genesis 12:10-20)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 2)


Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. (Genesis 12:10)

But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. (Genesis 12:17)

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.  (2 Timothy 2:13)


Last week, we read how Abram came to know the LORD. Though he was originally a cursed pagan, God spoke to him, giving him a command and a promise. God told Abram to go to a land that God would show him and that He would bless Abram greatly. Trusting the LORD, Abram obeyed, not knowing where God would take him. Thus, Abram displayed great faith in God. He simply trusted the LORD and left behind the security and comfort of his extended family.

Because Abram showed such astounding faith already, it is difficult for us to imagine things going south for him, especially as quickly as they do. In this section of Scripture, we read that God brings Abram to a new land only to face a severe famine. The famine causes Abram to journey into Egypt. Out of fear for his own life, Abram deceives the Egyptians into believing that Sarai is not his wife. This means that within the same chapter of Abram showing great faith in the LORD, he also sells his wife to Pharaoh in order to save his own skin.

It is shocking to see Abram sin so quickly after following the LORD, yet Bible never shies away from people’s sin. It repeatedly makes it clear that our “heroes” of the faith were deeply flawed and sinful people. If we read the Bible as a book of morality lessons and fables, accounts such as this will be hard to understand. However, if we realize that the only true hero of the Bible is God, then we will begin to see how vast the grace of God truly is! Simply put, we are no different than Abram. Each of us has moments of failure and success during our walk with God. Fortunately, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful.” In Christ, we have grace, even in the midst of our sins and failures.

Read verse 10 and answer discuss the following.

  • Seemingly immediately after faithfully beginning his walk with God, Abram find himself in a new land, facing a severe famine. Have you faced a similar hardship (perhaps one that came while you were faithfully obeying God as well)? Can you recall evidence of God’s faithfulness during that time?

Read verses 11-13 and discuss the following. 

  • Abram plotted to deceive the Egyptians using his wife. Because no one sins in isolation, we always hurt someone else by sinning. Consider some of the ways that your sin has negatively impacted others around you.
  • We learn in Genesis 20:12 that Abram wasn’t technically lying because Sarai was his half-sister. Are half-truths (or white lies) any less sinful than blatant falsehoods? Why or why not.

Read verses 14-16 and discuss the following.  

  • Abram’s deception works perfectly, and things go well with him because he sold his wife to Pharaoh. Do prosperity or good fortune always indicate God’s approval? Have you ever sinned and seemingly prospered from it rather than being punished?

Read verse 17 and discuss the following. 

  • God faithfully intervened into Abram’s affairs by keeping his promise to Abram. Can you recall a specific time in your life when God worked faithfully even though you were faithless?

Read verses 18-20 and discuss the following. 

  • By grace, Abram leaves Egypt wealthier than when he entered, even though he sinned. He was blessed rather than punished. How is this similar to the good news of Jesus?


  • Consider some of the sinful failures in your life. Take some time to thank God specifically for the grace given during those times.
  • Commit to pray for faithfulness and grace in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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