If the Bible had not been inspired by God, I am pretty sure that the story of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt would not have made the final cut. It does not cast Father Abraham in a very pretty light. It describes a time of famine where Abraham takes his wife to Egypt to seek food. Before crossing the border, he instructs Sarah to say that she is his sister while they are there because he fears that her beauty will cause the Egyptian men to want her and possibly kill him in order to take her as their own. This passage has always troubled me. For a husband to come into town and present his beautiful, desirable wife as a single, available woman…to put her in harms way in order to protect himself is just hard to handle. The story continues with Sarah being taken into Pharaoh’s palace. People are always quick to point out that Pharaoh did not do anything with her. He didn’t touch her or harm her in any way. That is nowhere in the passage. 

Meanwhile, Abraham is being gifted with flocks, servants and camels. He is growing more wealthy because of what Sarah is going through. He does not make a move to protect his wife.

The next part is where the story takes a dramatic turn. It says “But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarah.”  God would defend Sarah, though her husband would not. Pharaoh is furious when he realizes what Abraham has done. He tells him to take his wife and household and leave the country. He actually sends his men to escort them across the border.

Abraham, no doubt humiliated and embarrassed at having just been deported, sets up camp between Ai and Bethel. I can’t imagine the damage done to his relationship with Sarah at that point. Her husband, her protector, had offered her up to the wolves in order to save his own skin. Abraham, the father of faith, had failed. He had exercised a huge lack of faith in Egypt. He had sinned.

It is this next part of the story that really got my attention. Abraham had a habit of building an altar and worshipping God all along the way as he travelled, but not this time. This time, he didn’t build an altar. He found an old one. One he had built in the past, on this very spot, and it says “And there, he worshipped the Lord again.”

That stood out to me. It was an altar Abraham had built when he was full of faith. And it was still standing, today. Though his faith had wavered. Though he had failed, that altar still stood, reminding him that the Faithful God of yesterday will be faithful today and tomorrow. And he worshipped again.

Sometimes we go the wrong way. Sometimes our faith wavers and our feet slip off the path. Sometimes, like Abraham, we fall and are left in shame and hurt, unsure of what lies ahead. Look back. Yesterday’s altar is there. All that God has done in you and for you still stands in spite of how you’ve failed today. His promises will hold. He has been faithful in the past. He will be faithful in the future. So you can worship Him, again…today.






*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel

4 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Altar

  1. Abraham’s story is one of my all time favorites! I’m right with you on that opening statement…

    “If the Bible had not been inspired by God, I am pretty sure that the story of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt would not have made the final cut.”

    I love the transparency of this passage so much because even being regarded as the father of faith, this story reveals Abraham’s fear and frailty. None of us are perfect, no not one, and this story shows that, but it also embodies the grace and mercy of the Lord. Man, this post and passage is loaded with nuggets of wisdom! Thanks Sis!!


  2. It is possible that Pharaoh did not touch/harm Sarai. In addition to him saying he might have taken her as his wife, we have the Scripture from Esther 2:12 that says there was a 12 month time of beauty preparation for the young virgins/maidens. I’m surmising this is why people say Pharaoh didn’t touch/harm her. 😊


    • The only translations that insert the word “might have” taken her as his wife are the KJV and NKJV. All of the others that I saw state it in the past tense, “so that I took her for my wife.” There was another time Abraham had her tell a king she was his sister. Again, she was taken, and that time it specifies that King Abimelech did not touch her because God warned him in a dream.
      Again, you are right. It is possible that Pharaoh didn’t touch her/harm her, but the passage does not tell us that he didn’t.


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