From Faith to Fear to Faith Again–Genesis 12:6-13:4

In Genesis 12:7-13 we find that Abram, the man of faith, was also a man of failure.  In this passage, we will see that any man or woman, regardless of their level of spiritual commitment…is capable of faltering.  And in the same story we will also discover that God loves to restore failing people to Himself.  When our faith fails, God doesn’t.  Here are three principles I pick up from this story:

  1.  Expect your faith to be tested (12:10).  Abram has already faced a few obstacles–he left everything that was familiar to him back in Ur of the Chaldees (11:31-32), his wife was barren (11:30), and the land that God promised him was occupied by some pretty evil people–the Canaanites (12:6).  God reiterates His promise of the land (from the Euphrates River to the River of Egypt) to Abram and his descendants (through Isaac and Jacob) some ten times in the book of Genesis.  So Abram gets this promise again and what does he do?  Verse 8 tells us that “he built an altar there to the LORD…”  He worshiped.  Faith obeys and always leads to worship. Here in a pagan land this former pagan is adoring and praising the one true, and only, God.  However, things don’t stay too rosy for very long.  Verse 10 tells us that a famine comes into the land.  Here is the test of his faith.  Abram knew that God promised him the land forever.  Then a famine comes; what should he have done?  What did he do?  He panicked and ran away in fear to Egypt.  He did not “deny” God.  He simply “forgot” about him for awhile.  Abram trusted God for 1000 miles across the desert, but panicked and would not trust God for his immediate need.

2.  Abram needed to face his fears with faith (12:11-20).  What a skunk Abram is in this passage.  When he thinks his life is being threatened, what does he do?  He hands over his wife to Pharaoh to go into the king’s harem!!  Abram’s ploy was actually a half-truth because Sarai was his half-sister (20:12). But a half truth is a whole lie.  Notice how he puts everyone’s life at risk because of his own selfishness.  He makes out like a bandit with gifts from Pharaoh (v16), but he endangers Sarai’s life, Pharaoh’s life, and Pharaoh’s entire household (v17)!  When we lie the first time, it becomes a lot easier to keep lying, isn’t it?  Lying influences people around us.  It does not build trust in our friends or co-workers.  And the truth…ALWAYS…comes out.  What a sad story that it takes a pagan king to rebuke God’s man to get him to do the right thing (19).

3.  Lastly, Abram leaves Egypt and returns to the Promised Land to a life of faith (13:1-4).  There is life after failure.  We don’t know how long Abram lived in Egypt.  We do know that he built no altars to God there.  If Abram had only stayed in the land of promise during the famine, his faith would have grown.  Since he did not stay there, the same famine that could have driven him closer to God, led him away from God and brought to him much humiliation.

Final lesson…instead of saying, “why is God letting this bad thing (whatever it is) happen to me?”, we should say, “here is another opportunity for me to trust God.  I wonder what wonderful things He is going to teach me and do for me this time.”

Posted by Jeff Sanders