By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
Abram is in the land of promise, following God, and there is a famine. Should he remain, or flee to Egypt where there is food?
I. FAITH TRIED (12:10-13) Abram was afraid that he would starve. He took his eyes off the promise that God would make him into a great nation and fixed them on his circumstances apart from God.
He should have stayed where he was and trusted God to provide instead of trusting in himself and going down to Egypt. He followed his fear when he told Sarai to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister, not his wife. He was afraid that they would kill him. He refused to trust God to protect him.
Have you ever experienced a famine where you did not see any way God could provide? Have you ever thought that because of all the trials that you were going through that you may not be in God’s will? Have you ever taken matters into your own hands because you were afraid?
Just as God tested Abram’s faith with the famine, He tests our faith with trials for us to see if we will give in to our fears, cave under the pressure of the crises, or trust Him with His promises.
II. FAITH FALTERED (12:17-20) The whole time Abram was down in Egypt he was out of the will of God. He should have stayed in Canaan and built up rewards in heaven. He lost his testimony because he began walking by sight, not by faith. He took Lot down to Egypt with him and lost credibility. Pharaoh caught him lying and, finding him disgusting, told Abram to take his wife and leave Egypt.
When our faith falters, we have no evidence that we are Christ-followers. We are seen as hypocrites and we lose our testimony. God intervened in Abram’s circumstances by sending plagues to Pharaoh and his household. He allowed Pharaoh to rebuke Abram which caused him deep humiliation. When we are backslidden like Abram was, eventually God steps in. He allows circumstances to humiliate us to the point of desperation so that we will return to Him.
III. FAITH RESTORED (13:1-4) Abram returned to Bethel where he had built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. Undoubtedly, he confessed his sins and was restored to full communion with God. Although Pharaoh had blessed Abram with livestock, silver and gold, he did not become worldly. His calling on the Lord at the altar at Bethel meant that he was putting as much distance as possible between himself and the world.
His pitching his tent there represented his getting back to his pilgrim character following God wherever He led. When we repent from being controlled by our fear rather than God’s promises, we too meet God in worship offering up to Him our willingness to sacrifice anything He demands. We live with the wisdom gained from our failure and humiliation. If we stay where God leads us, even in the midst of hard times, we experience God’s provision. Our faith grows, God gives us the confidence to overcome our fears, and He blesses our obedience! B&R