Notes Genesis 12 B
Last week we started our journey with Abram. We saw how God called him; out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house; and we look at what this meant to us; how we are to get out of the country we were native to before the Lord called us, we are to come out of the world. We also saw that God calls us out from our kindred; those old family traits that would so easily beset us. Finally from our father’s house, and we look at how Adam is the father of us all and we have to leave the old Adamic nature behind.
After the call we looked at the blessing that follows the answer to God’s call.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
God will expand our territory, bless us, make our name great so we can BE a blessing.
Finally we saw that when Abram left Haran he; passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, (that place of leaving idols behind) unto the plain of Moreh (a place of instruction). And the Canaanite was then in the land. Once you answer God’s call there will be obstacles we will have to overcome and we should be like Joshua and Caleb and know that In Christ we are more than able to overcome; and not be like the other 10 spies and sit down and say it is just too hard and accept defeat without a fight.
That brings us to this week’s lesson;
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
I searched diligently to discover if there was a mountain between Bethel and Hai or Ai and there does not appear to be any because the two mountains are very close; so I believe that the Wycliffe translation is helpful.
And from thence he passed forth to the hill [of] Bethel, that was against the east, and setted there his tabernacle, having Bethel from the west, and Hai from the east. And he builded also there an altar to the Lord,
From this translation it appears that Abram built this alter on a hill of Bethel.
We see in this verse that Abram built another altar this time between Bethel (the house of God) and Hai. Now Hai was originally the royal Canaanite city of Luz and its name means ruin or destruction. In our journey into the promise land we often find ourselves here between the will of God for our life and the ways of the world. And of all places an altar is needed it is here, at the cross roads of our life, at the places of testing, for we are going to see Abram enter into a test. It is here we need an altar of worship or an altar of cleansing.
And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
This tiny little verse carries a lot of symbolism.
Hebrews 11:8-10 says;
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
We need to understand that the journey of faith is always on the move. Our carnal or fleshly nature always wants to settle down, put down roots but as you see Abraham never built a home here, he was looking for a better city. Jesus is our best example of this; he never owned a home;
Matthew 8:20 tells us;
but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Does this mean we are not to own a home. No it is talking about the faith walk, Abraham was not attached to the things of this world, Jesus was not looking for what he could acquire here, and both are examples of the true Christian Pilgrims, who realizes that we are just passing through. Life is not the sum of what we acquire, although the world of advertising would love to convince you otherwise.
The world’s view of life is focused on comfort here and now, or on what is convenient, and this often leads to compromise, which is where our story goes today.
Verse 10 A
And there was a famine in the land:
There are several things I want to look at here.
1. What do you think of when you here the word famine.
The dictionary defines famine as;
a. A drastic, wide-reaching food shortage.
b. the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable
2. Where is the famine, it is in the land, it is in the natural. Can I say to you that in “the land of the natural, there is always some type of famine, it is not always a famine for the natural things, normally there is an abundance of natural things but there is still indeed a famine.
There can be a shortage of or famine for righteousness in the land.
There can be a lack of wisdom in troubled times.
3. I believe that God sometimes allows us to experience to some degree the affects of the world’s famine to see how we will handle the problem.
There are two way we can react when we begin to experience lack.
1. We can depend on God. We can be like the apostle Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:12;
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Paul had learned how to live independent of his circumstances. In the midst of need Paul did not allow his circumstances to define how he was God or how he believed God felt about him In the midst of need, Paul still believed that God loved him and that He was Jehovah-Jireh, which means Jehovah’s provision shall be seen.
Throughout the Bible we have example after example of how the Lord is able to provide for those who will trust in Him.
There was Elijah who was fed by the ravens, there was the widow who’s barrel of meal wasted not neither did the cruse of oil fail in 1Kings 17:16. There was God’s provision of manna in the dessert for the whole nation of Israel for 40 years.
God is able to provide your need in the midst of famine.
2. We can depend on ourselves…If God is not going to meet my need, I guess I am just going to have to do something myself. This is the attitude Abram took in our story today.
Verse 10 B
and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
So we see that there was a famine in the land and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
What is missing from this scene? Do we see any mention by God for Abram to leave Canaan and go into Egypt? It seems that a famine had come into the land and Abram just decided he had had enough and he decides to go down into Egypt.
Egypt throughout scripture is always a picture of the world and its system of doing things.
Abram is undergoing a test here, what will he do when the going gets tough. Will he trust God?
1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Or will he compromise his beliefs for relief.
Too often this is what we do when the going gets tough. We fail to act on Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.
I want to stop here for a minute and look behind the scenes.
What was the immediate result of going into Egypt? The immediate result would have been that the pressure was off. The need for the things in that natural realm was met. There was a famine in Canaan and he felt the pressure of it and ran away.
There are times in our life as well, when we are dwelling in Canaan, the place God has called us to and, we are in the center of God’s will for our life, yet we begin to experience a lack. It is in these times we cannot allow our circumstances to change us. But this is just what Abram did.
What is the first actual result of Abram’s decision? As we already said the pressure was off but at what cost.
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
In these verses we see the cost of leaving our faith walk.
1. Fear….Fear is the opposite of faith and in these verses we see that Abram is afraid for his life. He is not where God called him to be and fear has entered his heart.
2. Compromise and deceit. To overcome his fear Abram must compromise who he is. He is Sarai’s husband but Abram chooses to deceive by telling a half truth. Oh who we love to sooth our conscience by telling half truths. Really that term in itself is a lie because a half truth is really a white-washed lie or a lie that has been covered over to look clean. Notice Abram does not deny being related to Sarai but his does deny his intimate relationship with her. Far to often when we fall into the ways of the world we have a tendency to deny who we are. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, in fact we are the bride of Christ, but when dealing with the world we do not deny being related to Jesus, we may not deny being a Christian, but we deny our intimate relationship with Him by our compromise.
3. Our compromise put others who are close to us in danger and we could end up loosing them. When Abram chose to lie about who Sarai was, he put her in danger, for the king claimed her for his harem.Compromise and deceit is sin. Tom has a saying about sin which I find very true in this story.
Sin will always take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to say and cost you more than you want to pay.
The sin of compromise and deceit almost cost Abram his wife, the one God had chose to be a part of bringing blessings to the entire world and Abram almost lost her for a morsel of bread. The loss of Sarai would have been much more than just the loss of a wife it would have been the loss of all the promises God had chosen to fulfill through the two of them.
Our society has become complacent with throwing away of our spouse. What we do not understand is if God has joined us together He has a plan that involves both the husband and the wife and to cast out your spouse is to cast out those plans. It will cost you much more than what you see on the surface.
Abram was only thinking about himself, about how he needed to protect himself and any time we have self in the middle of our plans, those plans are normally destructive.
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
Again in these verses we see that Pharaoh, who thinks Sarai is Abram’s sister, blesses Abram for her sake. On the surface Abram is blessed, material things are coming his way but the loss is tremendous.
1. He has lost his wife the one in whom God had chosen to send Abram’s and the world’s blessing through. Not only was God’s plans for Abram hindered but God’s plans for Sarai where also hindered. No man is an island, God sees a husband and wife as one, and although God still could bless Sarai, His plans for her would never fully be fulfilled unless He intervenes in Abram’s mistake.
2. Verse 16 tells us that Abram was given menservants and maidservants. One of these gifts turns out to be the source of great heartache in Abram’s life and the source of conflict down through the centuries even to today. Listen to Genesis 16:1
Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children; and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. Hum, I wonder where they picked up this Egyptian handmaid. Could it have been on this unscheduled trip into Egypt?
3. God had told Abram that all the nations of the world would be blessed by him but what does God have to do because of Abram’s deceit. God plagues Pharaoh and his household.
When God’s people chose not to follow His plan and chose to deceive we cannot be a blessing to the world that our Lord intended but we become a curse to them, driving them further from God instead of to God.
And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Abram’s witness of God before these Egyptians was destroyed. All they wanted was rid of him. The attitude of the Egyptians was; “take your things and go”. Abram was justly rebuked by the one he should have been a blessing to but instead of a blessing he was a curse. Also the riches that Abram and Lot acquired ultimately caused their separation and as we seen before Hagar was among the maidservants and her entrance into Abram’s and Sarai’s life was a source of much distress. Yet in the midst of all this we see God’s hand of mercy on Abram and Sarai. Pharaoh could have had Abram killed, the thing Abram feared the most could have come upon him. But God is faithful even when we are not;
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
God has a plan for Abram and through His mercy He protects him, even to the point that Pharaoh commands his men concerning Abram which really means he would not allow his men to hinder Abram as he left.
Verses 13: 1-4
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Although God is faithful even when we are not we see that He brings us back to the place where we strayed from His will, for where do we find Abram but right back to the alter between Bethel and Hai, Right back to the place between Bethel the House of God and Hai the place of ruin, it is here we see Abram repents, he has turned around, he has gone back to the place where he left God, he returns to the alter of God and God’s will for his life.
How long was Abram in Egypt; we do not know. How many years were wasted in the land of Egypt, we do not know. God has all the time of eternity to wait for our return but do you, do you have all the time of eternity to fulfill God’s will for your life?
Too many people feel like God has abandoned them. Yet Jesus gives us the promise “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” God has not abandoned us; He is waiting right back at the place we decided not to follow Him, the place where we chose our own way.
Are you in a time of testing? Do not think you can find what you need by running to Egypt? You will find a kind of relief, but the price of Egypt is a terrible price.
When we have chosen the wrong path, when we find ourselves out of God’s will let us say with the prophet Micah;
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness. Micah 7:8-9
When we have strayed from God’s will for our life, we need to repent which means to turn around and go back to the place where we left Him, He is waiting for you. Call on Him and He will answer, he will bring you forth to the light and you will behold His righteousness once again.