But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.
There is a slew of information here, so let’s deconstruct this verse.
First of all, who was suffering? Pharaoh and his entire household which includes relatives, harem wives/concubines, children and servants. That’s a significant number of people. Due to the fact that every member of his household was affected, Pharaoh probably concluded that the root of this disaster was a spiritual source.
What kind of diseases did Pharoah and his household suffer?
The Lord inflicted serious diseases (1). Serious diseases here means calamities such as plague, stroke, or even leprosy. We are not talking about a headache or a cold. These diseases were life altering and terminal.
There’s a lot of commentary on this, but this is my take on verse 17. I believe every person in Pharaoh’s household was afflicted with terrible disease, except for Sarai. In God’s eyes, she was Abram’s wife, and not legally part of Pharaoh’s household. Therefore, Sarai would be the only one left untouched. It would stand to reason that Pharaoh realized this was a sign from Sarai's God that indicated that she was the fly in the ointment. It would also stand to reason that Pharaoh would interrogate Sarai as to why he and his were being punished. Sarai, of course, would be forced to tell Pharaoh the truth.
A similar situation is recorded in the Book of Jonah. He was told by God to go to a Gentile city, Nineveh, and tell the people there to repent. Chapter one, verse two tells us that Jonah boards a ship that is traveling away from Nineveh because he is in opposition with God. Worn out from defiance, Jonah falls into a deep sleep while his ship almost cracked in half as it sailed into a tempestuous storm. Frantic, the captain shook Jonah out of his sleep begging him to pray to his god so they could be spared. Jonah gave no response. Shortly thereafter, the crew concluded that this storm was caused by a spiritual source. In desperation, they rolled dice to find out who the gods were angry with and the dice fell on Jonah. Bombarding Jonah with questions, the crew found out he was a Hebrew running away from his own God. Jonah was forced to tell them the truth.
God will smoke you out if wrongdoings are not repented and made right. Why? In His great mercy, He wants first to save you, and second, save the people you have placed in harm's way. In God’s divine wisdom, He proved to Pharaoh that He was all knowing and more powerful than himself. With that knowledge established, Pharaoh heeded God’s warning and acted prudently by amending Abram and Sarai’s nearly fatal mistake.
There is no greater lie than to be deceived into believing that our disobedience to God does not affect others. Our actions always affect others, negatively or positively. Do not place yourself and others into a situation where it's compulsory for God to smoke you out. There will be consequences and they will be greater than you could ever anticipate for yourself and for them.
Father, Thank You for allowing me to see the error and the danger of deception. Help me never to put myself or others in harm’s way. Help me to choose wisely and not inflict unintentional consequences on anyone, in anyway. I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.