I love the story of Lewis and Clark. But it is beat by a story of a Bible Gypsy who was on the move 100 years. That beats Lewis and Clark. Abram left Bethel. Genesis 12:9 (KJV) And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. He left the heart of the promised land and like Lewis and Clark, continued on. He came to the dry barren wasteland in southern Palestine Notice seven famines that Abram faced:
1. FAMINE OF FOOD
Gen 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land... He arrived in the promised land and there was a great drought. Now, you would expect that if you arrived in the PROMISED land, there's not going to be a famine there. Wouldn't you think that? He couldn't imagine it being so dry and inadequate. I'm sure he had dreamed of a land flowing with chocolate milk and honey buns. It wasn't that way.
Maybe you have taken a job working for the Lord, working for the church and you never dreamed there would be so many problems. Or maybe you help in the Sabbath School and you are surrounded with emergencies. "I never dreamed there would be all these problems." Now What? Maybe you joined the church and found issues instead of inspiration. "I didn't think it would be this way." You used to live in peace and plenty back in UR but now you that you've move to the promised land there is nothing but poverty and pain. "Something is wrong here." "The wide way was easier than this narrow path that You put me on." So Abram faced that.
I think that you will find that the misfortunes of life are permitted in order to root into God's grace and His love. That's why they are given to us.
Abram had problems. He couldn't deal with the lack of food. One reason was that he was loaded up with all of this wealth. Wealth in those days was not CD's and stock certificates but stock that walked on four legs. The servants must eat. His cattle and the sheep and the oxen and the goats and the camels. He was responsible for everyone of them himself. And if they didn't do something fast they were all going to die. UR was too far to go back. But Egypt had food. They had the Nile River. There was always food in Egypt. And besides, Egypt was fairly close at hand. This brings us to point number 2.
2. FAMINE OF BELIEF
Abram did not believe God's promise to bless him. He didn't. Genesis 12:10. ...and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. He went down alright! He went down from Bethel. He went down from Negev. He went down to Egypt. Abram went down. He was actually back sliding; is the problem here.
I would expect to read here that Abram prayed about his problems. Wouldn't you expect that? "Lord, what would You have me to do?" But we don't have anything about that. Or, maybe that he fasted. That would be easy to do if you don't have any food to eat anyway. Or, maybe that he put out the fleece. He didn't do any of that. There is no record of that. But he simply left without consulting God. You should never do that. That's dangerous! Isaiah 31:1 says, Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help... Don't go down to Egypt. Egypt represents the world. Who is our Help? Our help is God! Our help is Jesus! Our help is the Holy Spirit! Let me just apply this. When you marry an unbeliever without consulting God or you join an unequal business partnership without God's approval you are but going down to Egypt. You mark my word.
Palestine, the Promised Land lay between two sinful areas. Ur was the city of "Sin" (sin was the moon god). And pagan Egypt symbolized sin. Abram left the city of sin, overshot the promised land, only to arrive at the country of sin.
By the way, Why would God send His servant from Ur to Canaan only to have him Starve to death in the midst of a famine? Now, God is responsible here, right? Didn't God know there would be a famine? Why would God do that? The truth is that Abram should have been in the land of Canaan long before. Remember he got bogged down in Haran for possibly twenty five years? His delay placed him there right in the middle of a famine. It was his delay. It wasn't God's fault. Had he gotten there a couple dozen years earlier, he could have gotten established and weathered the famine properly. You see how that could have worked? His trip to Egypt would have been unnecessary. Do you see yourself in this story? I'm a lot like Abram! I go out on my own, and I shouldn't do that. Or, I delay doing God's will and then wonder why I'm in trouble.
It was God's will that he be in the Promised land. He Left God's will. He left the promised land. He left where he was supposed to be. He was "straying" instead of "staying." That's the problem. He stopped walking with God and he set out on his own. The old devil wants us to leave the church, to leave Jesus. I don't know why the grass always seems greener down there in Egypt. You look at the world, "All that's so nice out there. It's better than what I've got here.
3. FAMINE OF DEVOTION and PRAYER
Now, right here I would expect to read of Abram spending the entire night in prayer. I think he should have laid it all before the Lord. "Lord, I'm in a crisis here. I should have been here years before, it's true. But now I'm in a crisis. You've called me to be here. What should I do?" He should have laid the matter at the feet of Jesus. But he didn't. He fled to Egypt when he could have tapped into the One who manufactures all the wheat in the world. You see, God was his friend. God fills its granaries of the world with tons and mountains of food. And, He was Abram's friend. Instead, Abram goes to Egypt. He by- passed God. And I think instead of looking at God through our problems, we need to look at our problems through God.
The truth is Abram forsook God. You never read of him erecting an altar in Egypt. Do you read about that? He never did. So his troubles mounted quickly. 4. FAMINE OF TRUTH
Sarai was a beautiful liar. She was the most attractive woman Pharaoh had ever laid eyes on. How old was Sari by the way? She was 65! (Abram was 75.) Wow! Sixty five, the most beautiful girl in the world! How many of you men are married to an attractive woman? I figured every hand would go up. Being married to an attractive woman like Sarai could have its problems. Father Abram anticipated big trouble. Look at Genesis 12:11. I want you to notice how many times he refers to God and how many times he refers to himself. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. "Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."
What's Abram interested in here? He's interested in Sarai isn't he? No, he's not. He's interested in himself. He's selfish. Let's just come out and say it: He's selfish. Imagine being Abram's wife! "Would you please lie for me? So that they won't hurt me? I don't know what will happen to you, but if you could lie for me, I'd sure appreciate it." Imagine your godly husband who is a Patriarch asking you to lie. That's pretty tough. See how low a saint can sink when he steps from God's will? The heavenly witnesses must have almost had a stroke. Adam had failed. Noah had become a drunk. Now Abram was failing fast.
Did Sarai lie? When Sarai said she was his sister was that the truth? Genesis 20:12 says indeed she was his half sister. So did she lie? Absolutely she lied. Of course she did! A half truth is a whole lie.
By the way, do you tell the truth? We're better than Abram, aren't we. Most folk lie every day. In America ninety one percent say they lie on a regular basis. Of course they might be lying about their lying, I don't know. You can read that in the book: The Day America Told The Truth.
5. FAMINE OF MORALS
Sarai was noticed by the Egyptian men. You know that men do look at other women. Sarai was stunning to behold. In pagan Egypt it was a dog eat dog world. Pharaoh was the top dog. The newly discovered beauty queen would be his wife.
Genesis 12:15 says, And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.
Even Egypt has a grapevine. Soon word reached the throne about Sarai. "You realize you've got a beauty queen here. The most beautiful lady in the land. One fateful day the royal Egyptian troops came to Abram's tent to abduct, kidnap, Sarai from her husband from her friends there and took her to the palace. And why did they take her? Because of her beauty. It's too bad they didn't have her wear a veil all the time or stay inside the tent or something.
Our old adversary the devil and Satan loves to bust up families. He wants to separate the wife and the husband. That's one of his job descriptions. You can see it so plain in this story. And if he can separate Sarai from Abram the possibility of a legitimate son was zero. Can you can see in this story Satan trying to eliminate Jesus. The Great Controversy is trying to play here, isn't it. Sarai was to be the mother of nations. Jesus would come through that line. Satan was trying to get at Jesus. I wonder if every other ancestor in Jesus linage had similar problems. How often the families of God's leaders suffer. With Sarai sequestered in Pharaoh's Unholy Harem, God's promise seemed dead.
Genesis 12:16. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
Abram was paid handsomely for "giving" his pretty "sister" to the Pharaoh. Vast herds of cattle, camels, and sheep soon multiplied Abram's wealth. Shepherds, herders, and many other workers were given to Abram to help care for these flocks and herds. These were vast winnings that he received.
6. FAMINE OF EXAMPLE
Nephew, Lot, probably said: "Uncle Abram, you sure did well today." Lot learned how to do things. Lot's watchin'. Lot learned and acquired some bad habits from his uncle. Abraham's son, Isaac, repeated the same sin that Abram did. of his father. I will tell you that a Christian who is out of control harms his family for many years.
Genesis 12:17 ut the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai.
Now God goes to bat for the unfortunate, for the abused, for the helpless, for the underdog. And God came to Sarai's rescue. Remember God's promise to Abram back in 12:3- "I will bless you and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Instead of being blessed, Pharaoh was being cursed. He and his family were being tormented with powerful plagues. Only Sarai seemed to be immune. Pharaoh was smart. But Sarai was immune and Pharaoh noticed that she was not getting those plagues. So he came and apprehended Abram.
Genesis 12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?" "You lied to me"
Abram stood speechless. I want you to think a bit about Abram right here. His bold faced lie was made public. His name became associated with lying. Probably for years afterwards the Egyptians would say: "Now tell me the truth, don't you be an Abram to me!" Thus Abram completely lost his personal witness in that heathen land. Physics professors tell us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The great lie became a great curse. Genesis 12:19 "Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!" "I don't ever want to see you again.
Pharaoh did not kill Abram. How come? He could have killed him and taken his wife. I think he was afraid of God. Those plagues could get worse. He feared more plagues might take his own life. We actually wind up with Pharaoh fearing God and it appears that Abram did not. Heathen Pharaoh shines greater in moral integrity than Abram the believer. And you've noticed that out in the world at times haven't you. But, I'll tell you that Pharaoh is not going to be in heaven and Abraham is. So, you've got to stay tune in over the next few weeks.
Abram had wrongly prejudged the Egyptians. Prejudice against others is not good. Bias or predisposition spoils the possibility of success with others. Pharaoh could have said: "If all the believers are like him, I hope I never meet another one in my whole life!"
Did God punish Abram for his wrong act? Apparently the opposite was true. He was blessed abundantly. He walked out of Egypt with wealth, with camels, with servants. Why was Abram not punished for making his wife lie and being so selfish? Let me ask you: Does God punish you every time you lie? Or every time you sin? No, God is very forgiving and gracious far beyond what we deserve. Abraham will be in Heaven.
Remember though that Abram actually did suffer personal consequences for his sin. Where did Hagar come from? Remember all the problems he had with Hagar? This Egyptian woman was part of the loot that Abram acquired in Egypt. Hagar became a major source of headache and pain for Abram. Sin does pay self- inflicted wages.
Also remember the quarreling between Lot and Abram's herdsmen? That would not have happened if they had not come back from Egypt with all those camels and sheep and all those animals. There was not enough room for both of them in the same place. Why not? Because of all the cattle and flocks they acquired down there in their unauthorized trip to Egypt. In fact, if you rally think about it, maybe Lot would never have gone to Sodom in the first place. Big problems came upon Abram all because of his going ahead of God and his sin in Egypt.
Genesis 12:20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. I would have thought that Pharaoh would have exchanged Sarai for the return of his gifts. But Abram was allowed to keep the heathen handouts. Should he not have given them all back? All this just goes to show you that our spiritual forefathers were so human. Abram was forgiven just like we may all be forgiven.
So, a much wiser Abram left Egypt loaded. Loaded with food and possessions, servants and cattle and headed back to the promised land.
I love the Bible. Each story is told "warts and all." If God is able to make a great Patriarch out of such base material as this, then there is hope for all of us. God wants to make an Abraham out of you. Don't run off to Egypt. You run to Jesus.
Hymn of Praise: #4, Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven Scripture: Genesis 12:10-20 Hymn of Response: #537, He Leadeth Me 020223Gettys#514
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last updated 2/28/2002 by Bob Beckett.