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Gen. 12:10-20 - Sidetracked - Part 1
We have been talking alot about “Faith” in the last few messages concerning Abram, and could legitimately title this one: “When Faith Fails,...” But do we believe our Faith can fail???
Isn’t Worry a failure of Faith? Worry looks at the circumstances of the present apart from believing in a sovereign God who is also a loving Father who’s in control of the past present and future.
And Worry’s partner, fear, is also a failure of faith. Worry is concerned about the distant and often unlikely future. Fear faces the problem eye to eye.
The disciples were not worried on the storm-tossed waves of Galilee; they were scared to death. And our Lord rebuked them by unveiling the failure of their faith: And Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ (Mark 4:40).
Faith does fail; at least, my faith does. So what happens when it does? Do I lose my salvation? Does God’s work in my life come to a screeching halt, waiting for my faith to return?
And the incidents in Abram’s life described in Genesis 12:10-20 will give us an encouraging word, and one that’s desperately needed by those whose faith will fail. Because like Matthew Henry’s opening statement in his commentary to these passages states: “There is no state on earth free from trials, nor any character free from blemishes.” and: “If God did not deliver us, many a time, out of straights and distresses which we bring ourselves into, by our own sin and folly, we should be ruined.”
All of us have felt the pressure of Circumstances that we can’t control and the fear and worry that comes with the lack of seeing what we need to do.
Our last message was titled “Faith Follower.” However, by this next section Abram faced his first challenge and soon found himself overwhelmed by his circumstances: 12:10 - “Now there was a famine in the land...” This word “Famine” here means hunger, and with the large herds and many people they had with them, they needed good grazing grounds as well as their personal needs to be taken care of.
But surely “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” How many times have we heard that unbiblical phrase! For Abram, this season of hunger represented a major test. The famine carried a pretty clear message from the Lord: “In all your praying and altar building, Abram, let me reveal the true depth of your faith. This difficulty will show how little you trust Me to provide for your needs now that circumstances have turned against you and the only thing you find in abundance is hunger.”
While God didn’t cause the famine, He certainly used it as a key instrument in the development of Abram’s faith. And we all can expect more than one divine test in our own faith journey’s. God doesn’t use difficult circumstances to find out what we’ll do. He doesn’t test us to observe our response to faith. He already knows us better than we know ourselves, and He already knows what the future holds. He uses tests to reveal us to OURSELVES.
Many times He uses a test at the beginning of a lesson to show us where we need improvement. Then a season of learning often follows. Abram failed his first test when he rushed down to Egypt instead of seeking God’s counsel.
Until the famine, he had talked to God and built altars to memorialize his relationship with the Almighty. But once the severe famine struck, we hear no more prayers from Abram, no more altars are built, and no proclamations to the Lord. (Wow, how many of us can relate that into parts of our own life...) Rather than seeking God’s instruction, Abram made a beeline for where caravan merchants said he could find food in abundance.
F.B. Meyer, in his book, “The Life of Abraham: the Obedience of Faith,” describes the literary and symbolic meaning of Egypt in Biblical literature. Abram’s choice of destination has some pretty significant theological implications. He says this: “In the figurative language of Scripture, Egypt stands for an alliance with the world... (Abram) acted simply on his own judgment. He looked at the difficulties and became paralyzed with fear. He grasped at the first means of deliverance that suggested itself, much as a drowning man will catch at a straw. And thus, without taking counsel of his Heavenly Protector, Abram went down to Egypt.
A fatal mistake! But how many make it still! They may be true children of God, and yet, in a moment of panic, they will adopt methods of delivering themselves, that, to say the least, are questionable, sowing the seeds of sorrow and disaster to save themselves from some minor embarrassment...
How much better would it have been for Abram to have thrown the responsibility back on God and have said: ‘You brought me here, and You must now bear the whole weight of providing for me and my family. I will stay until I clearly know what you want me to do.’”
So, he made the decision to relocate to Egypt and they began the 200 mile trek. Going us next week as we continue in the text and talk about “imagined problems.”