Famine, Fear, and a Faithful God

05.10.15 | Rev. Darin Pesnell  |  Genesis 12:10-13:18

What does it look like to follow God in times of uncertainty in need? In our text, famine hits the land, Abraham is forced to leave and goes to Egypt. This is part of what it means to obey God: we will suffer trials (James 1:1-8), and we’re not sure if things will work out, but we know that God is with us. This is contrary to what we find in the prosperity gospel which says that if you experience bad things, it’s because you have a lack of faith.

Abraham’s lack of faith in Egypt:

  1. Abraham goes to Egypt, but thinks that he will be killed because of the beauty of his wife. So Abraham calls Sarah his sister, but does not expect that it would be Pharaoh who would want to make Sarah his wife! So much for being able to negotiate.
  2. Abraham was characterized by great faith beforehand, but now is controlled by fear (v. 12).  He resorts to trying to control things, and it ultimately backfires.  Dig deeper: How do you  respond in times of uncertainty? Abraham found wreckage and pain as a result of his fear driven decisions. Read and reflect on Colossians 1:9-23.

  3. Instead of looking to and trusting in the Lord, Abraham looks at the circumstances and his own ingenuity and self-sufficiency. Dig deeper: Parent’s, let your kids know how you deal with difficult circumstances by showing them the way of walking with God is the way of fighting against this temptation to control things.

  4. God eventually intervenes for Abraham. He afflicts Pharaoh’s house with plagues, and he eventually releases Sarah, and they go back to their land from Egypt.

 

Abraham’s demonstration of faith in the promised land

  1. Abraham and Lot need to part ways. Abraham tells Lot to choose whichever land he wants, and Abraham would take the other land. Abraham here conveys a deep trust in the Lord. Whereas before he tried to control things, here he leaves it all in God’s hands.

  2. Lot chooses an area of land that seems more likely to provide protection from drought. Abraham remains in this land that the Lord had promised him. Dig deeper: When you are constantly trying to control things you never have rest. Read and reflect on Matt 11:28-30.

  3. Verse 14-16 “lift up your eyes…I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth…” Abraham experienced failure in Egypt, but here he exhibits faith, and God then expands the promise. In Hebrew the word “please” is used by God when he tells Abraham to lift up his eyes. God is saying that regardless of how much you blow it, His blessings are not hindered by our failures. Grace is never limited or restricted by sin. Dig deeper: God is more gracious that we can imagine, and no eye has seen, nor has it entered into the heart of man what He has in store for those who trust in Christ alone for their right standing with God.

  4. What would it look like for you to let go of control over various circumstances? To do so is the way of blessing. No amount of getting it wrong can restrict God’s blessing to his people.

 

Conclusion

This story has many similarities with Israel’s story in the Exodus:  Abraham goes to Egypt, and then we see plagues brought upon the Egyptians, and Abraham is brought back to the promised land. But ultimately what we have is a picture of what Jesus would do. God is faithful to protect His people, except in one case: Jesus. Jesus is given over to His enemies for them to do whatever they pleased. God does not intervene as Jesus cries out from the cross “My God, why  have you forsaken me.” God’s response was silence. Why? Because it was at the cross where the blessing would be purchased. Christ then is profoundly committed to His people. He would be forsaken so that we could have the unimaginable blessings that are found only by God’s grace alone through faith alone in and by Jesus Christ alone.