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The Man Abram
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TITLE The Man Abram
TEXTS Genesis 11:10-14:16
 
USE November 18, 2006

Are you thinking of doing your holiday shopping over the Internet this year? If so the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the United States consumer protection agency, wants you to remember that an online “Scrooge” could easily spoil your holiday fun. 

According to research by Nancy Lamoreaux, Director of Information Technology Services at the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.  While there are many ways to steal someone’s identity Lamoreaux gives these pointers when making purchases over the Internet:

- Use one credit card for all on-line purchases
- Do business with companies you know
- Write down the address and phone number of company listed
- Read privacy statement
- Don’t answer any questions that are not required
- Check owner of Web site (1)

The FTC launched the website OnguardOnline.gov as a means of helping consumers in their daily interactions on the Internet. One of the tips from the website further emphasizes that it is important to “know who you are dealing with.”

As many as 4 out of 5 individuals who are victims don’t know how the identity thief obtained their information. Sadly, up to half of the thieves are family members or someone known to the victim. (2)

The main character in our lesson study this week, Abram, may well have been the first known individual to “steal” a family member’s identity for his advantage. Abram knew who he was dealing with: Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler in the land of Egypt where Abram was seeking protection from famine for his family.

Unlike most victims today, Sarai knew who stole her identity--her own husband!

Abram knew his wife was so attractive that a man with higher earthly power than he possessed might choose to kill him in order to be able to claim Sarai as a wife. Knowing the ways of men, Abram came up with a scheme to save face and spare his own life.

Abram took Sarai aside and said, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance. And when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.” (Genesis 12:11-13 NKJV)

Abram’s fraud in seeking a shift in Sarai’s identify may have spared him his life, but clearly indicated his lack of faith in God’s ability to protect his family. 
The Egyptian Pharaoh discovered the fraud and sent Abram and Sarai and everything they owned out of the land in which they had sought protection during a time of great famine.

You may be experiencing a great famine in your life economically, emotionally, physically or socially. Don’t let someone steal your identity as God’s chosen son or daughter. If you believe that identity, it will increase your faith in God’s ability to see you through to your promised land.

--ck

[1] See Lamoreaux's power point presentation handout on identity theft at http://www.nadadventist.org/article.php?id=129
[2] Ibid.