Summary: For the 2nd time in his life, Abraham passes his wife off as his sister. How can he be such a great model of Godly faith when he acted out of fear?
OPEN: How many of you have heard of the recent “Mad Cow” disease scare? (All hands went up). It seems that never a year goes by that we are not exposed to the fact that one food or another is endangered by some chemical or biological threat.
Back in the late 1990’s a High School freshman won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by urging people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "Dihydrogen monoxide" because:
1. It was known to cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
2. It was a major component in acid rain.
3. It could cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
4. Accidental inhalation could kill you.
5. It contributed to erosion.
6. It decreased the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
7. It had been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.
He asked 50 people if they support a ban. 43 said yes. Six were undecided. But only one knew that the chemical was ... water.
APPLY: Many of people’s fears and worries are often based upon “facts” like these. Every one of the “facts” presented by that High School Freshman was completely accurate:
1. Water can cause excessive sweating and vomiting (you couldn’t do either one without it)
2. It is a major component in acid rain (rain is water)
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state (steam)
4. If you accidentally inhale water it could kill you (you’d drown).
5. It does contribute to erosion (rain washes away soil)
6. It does decrease the effectiveness of car brakes (you can slide on wet pavement).
7. And water is found in tumors of cancer patients (it’s in every cell of our bodies).
I. Worry & Fear are frequently based upon facts.
But those facts can often be incomplete. Many times our fears and worries are based upon imperfect information… facts that don’t tell the whole story.
And - as far as God is concerned - fear and worry are ALWAYS based upon imperfect information. All worry and fear are based upon facts that don’t tell the whole story.
Does anybody know what the most common Biblical command in Scripture is? What command occurs the most often in Scripture? It is: “Do not be afraid”
Does anybody have an idea how many times that command occurs in the Bible? 365 times – one command for each day of the year.
In fact, in Philippians 4:6 God tells us
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Or, as Peter wrote: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
God does not tell us our fears are unfounded. He simply teaches us that the “facts” upon which our fears are based - THOSE facts are ALWAYS incomplete - they are imperfect. They fail to take into account one significant factor… GOD
As one person put it: “Faith does not blind the eyes. It looks the difficulties square in the face and heaps them to one side of the balances. On the other side, it puts, simply and solely--GOD.”
The problem, of course… is that even the most powerful believer struggles with fear. How many of you have struggled with fear and anxiety? How many of you have struggled with these feelings over the past year? (Almost every hand went up to each question).
II. The Bible tells us that Abraham was a great man of faith.
In Hebrews 11 (that great Chapter of Faith) Abraham is the star attraction. More is said about him (in that chapter) than any other Godly man or woman
Galatians 3:9 praises Abraham and it tells us: “… those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
From the very first, Abraham pleased God by his faith
Hebrews 11:8 tells us “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.”
And because Abraham trusted God so deeply, we’re told that God made a covenant with him. And this covenant was repeated to 3 or 4 times in Genesis. Each time, God was driving home to Abraham that he would use Abraham to build a great nation.
Abraham… A Great Man Of Faith… (pause…)
BUT THEN, we read this story out of Genesis 20…
Abraham leads his flocks into the southern part of Canaan into the realm of a man named Abimelech, the King of Gerar.
Now, apparently Kings of that day had developed a certain reputation: If a woman was attractive to them, the King would take them into their harem. And – if that woman happened to be married - she wouldn’t be married long. Her husband would die… and THEN she’d be taken into the King’s harem.