Summary: The Patriarchs Abraham: Facing Our Fears Genesis12:10-12:20 David Taylor March 13, 2016
Abraham: Facing Our Fears
March 13, 2016
Janez Rus lived in Germany during the days of the Nazi ruler Adolf Hitler. During that time, he was a young shoemaker, looking to make his name prominent. Because of the power of the German government, he participated in public supports of the Nazi regime in hopes of gaining recognition. But after the regime fell, he realized the error of his ways, and out of fear, fled to his sister's farm in Slovenia to hide. He hid there in her barn for thirty-two years, without so much as a visit to town or interaction with guests. After he was discovered, reporters interviewed him, wondering how someone stayed hidden for so many years. He told of how he allowed his fear to keep him at home, away from anyone outside his family. Fear ruled Janez Rus' life for thirty-two years. He went nowhere, visited no one, and lived a sad life of regret. The threat of retribution for his crimes was real, but he allowed the fear of what could happen rule his life.
Today we see what happens when Abraham lets his fears drive his decisions. Last week we saw that God chose Abraham and gave him several promises. Abraham trusts God by leaving everything to follow Him then soon afterwards his faith is tested. God graciously brought circumstances into Abraham’s life to expose his fears, teaching Abraham to trust God.
There is a severe famine in the land so Abraham leaves the promised land and sojourns to Egypt. Was it correct for him to leave Canaan and go to Egypt? I don’t think so. First, Canaan was the promised land and a sojourn to Egypt implies a more permanent trek. Does a famine limit God’s ability to provide for Abraham? Maybe from a human perspective but not for God. Abraham left because he feared that God would not provide for him during the famine. Additionally, there is no evidence of him asking God about going to Egypt. This was a trial in the life of Abraham. Trials are circumstances God uses to stretch or strengthen our faith like a muscle. So Abraham faced a real difficulty in the promised land, maybe thinking that a life of following God should be easy sailing. Life should be easy if I obey God. Have you ever thought that; worse, been you been taught that? That is the opposite of what the bible teaches. Some of you are facing this same trial concerning God’s provision. You are wondering if God will provide for you. You are having financial difficulties. Maybe you don’t have a job, or not making enough money, starting a new business. You don’t know how you are going to make it. You are scrambling around, looking for ways to make it happen. Some of you have consumer debt, student loans you can’t pay off. What ever provision you need, God has a way out. He can provide in a multitude of ways if you will trust him. When I went to seminary I had my first year of school paid for and graduated with no debt. I had money come into my school account; I had an older brother offer to pay for a year of school if I worked for him for one summer, which meant I was his personal slave. Karen went to private Christian college and Seminary also and graduated from both debt free. God provided because we trusted him to provide. We had a church split in 2008 and were without a worship leader and had a huge budget shortfall. But God provided a worship leader the very week we needed it and we got a call from a preschool that year who needed space to rent. The promised land is not a land without struggles. Some of you are in places where you were not expecting a famine, difficulty and you are angry that things have not worked out the way you expected and you don’t know how things are going to work out. Maybe you have come to Homer thinking this is the promised land and things have not gone your way. God’s goal in your life has more to do with your character than your comfort. Abraham’s fear that God would not provide for him was not his fear. He also feared that God would not protect him.
As they are about to enter Egypt Abraham fears for his life with such a beautiful wife so he begins plotting how he can protect himself and waits for just the right moment to broach the subject with Sarah. He has a hottie for a wife and is convinced that the Egyptians are going to kill him to take Sarah even though God promised to give him offspring, to bless him, to give him the land, and to curse those who curse him. Fear has a way of using our imagination against us. When we are afraid we tend to imagine the worst case scenarios are going to play out. So Abraham plots to protect himself at his wife’s expense by convincing her to lie, while making it seem like he is doing it for “her sake.” He convinces her to tell the Egyptians that she is his sister so that his life will be spared for “her sake.” That plan is anything but for her! It is all about Abraham protecting himself and jeopardizing their marriage covenant. The bible is brutally honest about the frailty of God’s people. It does not hide their sin like much of ancient literature does, which gives the bible credibility. Faced with a potentially life threatening situation, Abraham had a choice. Will he believe the promises of God or not? Faith in the promises of God is what empowers faith in the present. His fear swallowed up faith so that he took matters into his own hands. What circumstances are you facing right now that is causing fear to rise up in your heart? Let me tell you something, God is in the middle of your circumstances and he is wanting you to trust him. I don’t know your history nor have I worn your shoes. But this I do know. God is faithful to his promises. If you will trust him then your circumstance will play out well in the long run.