I want to go on to Gen 12:10-20 and Gen 13. 14.
What happened when they got to the Promised Land?
1 How come Abraham did not remain in the Promised Land.
So many of us think that once we reach the goal God has for us that we have made it. Once we’re in the Promised Land everything will be easy and comfortable for us. We will live in this bliss with God.
Not only do we need to go into the Promised Land but we need to stay there.
Spiritually seen, once we start doing the will of God, Satan will do all he can to get us out of the Promised Land, ie out of the Will of God.
Abraham had the same problem. Staying in the Land once he got there.
We have a saying: The grass is always greener on the other side.
So why did Abraham leave?
Not only did Canaan not have running water in the toilets, but it ran out of food and water.
By this time Abraham had many responsibilities. Much wealth brings cares and worries of its own. He was responsible not only for himself but his wife nephew and all the servants.
Abraham had responsibility for many people and I believe he wanted to do the best for them.
I think he went about looking after them in his OWN strength as we have no record of God telling Abraham to leave the Promised Land. Indeed what he got up to down there would to me seem to imply for me that he was not walking with God.
There are for me three reasons why I think Abraham did not consult the Lord.
1. If he had, I believe the Scripture would have recorded it, as it would have been a special leading like his call from Ur. In other cases where God has called people to go elsewhere because of famine we see it recorded.
2. Another reason I think Abraham was not led of the Lord to go was that FEAR crept in. When you have no clear word from the Lord, fear can creep in. You have no assurance of God’s protection because you have heard from him on the matter. Lack of communion with God weakens our faith.
3. Because the whole episode brought dishonour to the God he worshipped.
So we see that Abraham had a problem. No food or water.
Humanly speaking he had to go out of Canaan and he had two choices.
a. To return to Ur 2,000 kms away (go back home) or
b. To pop over the border into Egypt about 500 kms away.
He knew Ur was out because he had a clear word from the Lord so this only left Upper Egypt.
In upper Egypt, he would have had no problem communicating, because the common language of the area was West Semitic.
I want to point out that Abraham was not going out to DEFY God, he just started slipping in his relationship with the Lord.
So we see Abraham leaving the Promised Land and going down to Egypt.
How often we start with God and land up walking in our own strength because we do not bring the Lord our problems.
I sense Abraham started backsliding.
We see no record of Abraham calling on the name of the Lord from Gen 12:8 to Gen 13.4. That is to say the next record of Abraham calling on the name of the Lord was in Bethel (Canaan) after he left Egypt.
How easy it is to slip into sin when we neglect fellowship with the Lord. That what the fellowship here is all about, to keep us on fire for the Lord.
Suddenly Abraham’s perspective changed. His big problem became "Me" rather than what does the Lord want.
Some Christians believe in the Trinity, but have a slightly nonbiblical definition :
I, myself and me!!
Abraham was scared, probably rightly so. It was a reflection on the evil of Egypt.
But you note there is no record of him going to the Lord for protection. No record of him saying to the Lord: Father I am scared that they will kill me because of Sarai. What shall I do.
He used human common sense. Self preservation often leads to selfishness.
Let us look at the various effects of his actions.
1. His actions effected the one who he was closest to and loved. Sarai. Abraham’s selfishness has real and tragic effects for Sarai.
What a life for Sarai.
i) She is taken away from the man she loves;
ii) She loses her family and her security;
iii) She is put in a place of serving other gods. Her faith in put in jeopardy.
In short, she was put in a palatial prison for him with no prospects an early parole.
2. His actions had dire consequences for others, such as Pharaoh! And when the truth came out, what a scoundrel and wimp Abraham looked. Hardly a good advert for Abraham’s God. It ruined his witness. A pagan king is shown having more morality than Abraham, the Father of the Faithful.
Here was the Egyptian king reprimanding Abraham for being deceitful. Note even half truths are lies.
Look at the honesty of Scripture here. The heroes of the Faith are shown, warts and all. He was a man just like us.
God was not glorified by Abraham’s trip to Egypt and certainly by compromising his witness, people would not be brought to worship the One and True GOD.
Another lesson we learn is that Satan loves to destroy families. How many tremendous preachers have had tremendous problems in the family. Their family life has neutralised their ministry totally.
Satan has declared war on the family. If he can’t get the preacher, then he gets at the wife. Here Satan got at Sarai and separated her from her family by placing fear in her husband. The families of great man of God have often been under attack.
Story: Ruth Graham recently was on television telling how her boys were prodigals, and how God restored them to faith. The attack is on the family. We must realise this and protect our families.
Fear makes us irrational people. Fear brings worry and eventually a breakdown.
When I was in Canada. Don Cantelon, pastor of the Christian Life Assembly in Langley, probably the largest church in British Columbia spoke of how so many pastors have nervous breakdowns including himself. This incredible pressure will either destroy your ministry or your family if you don’t keep close to the Lord. It is a spiritual warfare.
Fear can break families.
Story: When Maddy and I first started going to a Pentecostal church, our boys were noisy. And people complained. They can’t play with guns, they must not run around. We were so tensed up trying to live up to this SUPERSPIRITUAL level and the level OTHERS were trying to impose on us that we nearly cracked up altogether. It nearly brought us to a family breakdown.
God wants strong family units: Gen 2:24. Children will learn the Christian faith by the example primarily of love they get in the home. And you will be surprised how they grow.
So we see in Gen 12:14 Abraham, heir to the promises of God separated from his wife, the mother of nations who was wrapped up in a harem in Egypt. It did not look very rosy for God’s promise to be fulfilled.
How Satan would like to make God a liar if he could!!!!
Yet God is not a liar and he caused his will to be effected.
But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and all his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.
So Pharaoh summoned Abraham and challenged him about his deception and throws him out of Egypt.
With one master move, the Lord puts Abraham’s sin against Pharaoh in the open and get Abraham back into the Promised Land.
Often after a humiliating experience it is that we turn our eyes back to the Lord.
It is not just good enough to go to the Promised Land, we need to stay there. We need to daily walk with the Lord.
The Lord wants us to spend regular time with Him. That is where we grow. Not only in public services but in the closet. Martin Luther used to get up at four to pray and if he had an especially hard day he’s get up earlier. I speak to myself here too because I am not an early riser.
Let us resolve to seek the way of the Lord daily to avoid coming unstuck from His desire for our life.