Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Protection of Sarai

 Scripture: Genesis 12:10-20

After Abram left his home and began his wanderings in Canaan, a famine occurred and Abram went to Egypt. Out of fear, he portrayed his wife, Sarai, as his sister, and Pharaoh took her into his house. As a result, God struck Pharaoh’s household with a plague until Pharaoh restored Sarai to Abram.

Observations: While the supernatural is basically confined to one verse in this passage (v. 17), that doesn’t make it any less important.

First, we see the supernatural as protection. Abram’s instructions to Sarai revealed that he was acting very much out of self-interest rather than protection of his wife, as he should have. This placed Sarai in a precariously compromising situation. So God intervened on Sarai’s behalf.

Second, we see the dual nature of God’s intervention. Abram lied about his relationship with Sarai. Sarai, under the instructions of Abram, did the same. God could have easily let them reap the consequences. But being a gracious God, He didn’t and intervened. But what an intervention it was for those who threatened His people’s well-being! Plagues weren’t known for being easy to deal with; they tend to be horrific, devastating, and closely tied to death. So yes, God graciously intervened on Abram and Sarai’s behalf—at great cost to Pharaoh and his household.

Third, we see the supernatural timing of natural occurrences. While plagues are frequently tied to God’s judgment in Scripture, sickness, plague, and death weren’t uncommon in the ancient world. What marks this plague as from God is its timing: its onset coincided with Pharaoh taking Sarai into his home.

Significance: While God can and does use the supernatural as judgment and punishment, He also uses it for the protection of His people. Indeed, if He didn’t, we would have perished long ago.

That said, God’s protection doesn’t eliminate trouble from our lives. Abram still had to deal with a famine. Sarai still dealt with the scary situation of being taken by Pharaoh and not knowing what would happen next. God could have intervened sooner and prevented either of those things from occurring. He didn’t. He waited to intervene until it was absolutely necessary and He alone would be given credit for the rescue.

So while we can rest in knowing God is our protector, we can’t expect Him to rescue us supernaturally from every problem we face. He wants us to learn how to trust Him and correctly preserve through trials, not to presume He will supernaturally bypass them all.

Moreover, just because God acts supernaturally for our protection doesn’t mean the experience will be all tulips and butterflies. As I already indicated, plagues are nasty…painful…destructive…shot through with death. That couldn’t have been a pleasant scene for Sarai to witness—not to mention she probably was worried about contracting the plague herself—and it was even less pleasant for those who experienced it.

Yes, God can and does protect. But God’s supernatural intervention in the natural realm can come with a pricy or painful cost, and the rescue can be nearly as painful as the circumstances from which we are being saved.

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