Summary: When the famine hit Canaan, Abram looked to Egypt rather than to God. This sermon examines the problems we encounter when we turn to the world in our troubles rather than to God.
Do you have a worry box? It’s a mental box that we can place our worries in. This box can only hold so many worries, so as soon as one disappears, we fill it with another. If a bigger worry comes along, we discard the smaller worries to make room for it. These worry don’t vanish. They are just discarded until there is room for them to return.
I lost my wallet a few years back. Immediately a new crop of worries came along that pushed out several of the smaller ones. Someone had stolen it. In it was my Social Security card. Someone had my identity. Also my driver’s license. Someone had my address. Also my credit card. Someone was going on a shopping spree. I was finically ruined and under threat.
A couple of days later, as I lay in bed, I heard a thumping noise. Was it the wind or the person with my wallet trying to get into my house? It never dawned on me why having my wallet would drive someone to seek out my house to break into. But the worry was there.
It was like the worry that I had when my father-in-law died. He had several pairs of new shoes, most still in the box, which I inherited. They were stored under the bed. One night I woke up to the noise of a thumping noise coming out from under my bed. It sounded like someone pecking on a shoebox. Immediately I became worried that his spirit had returned to show his disapproval of my owning his shoes. Carefully I crossed the floor with my eyes closed until I reached the light switch and could turn on the light. Standing in the room, I heard it again. It was defiantly a thumping noise and defiantly coming out from under the bed. Ever so cautiously, I peered under the bed and there before my eyes---- was my dog scratching his ears. That worry was quickly gone.
Now this worry. Could I go to work in the middle of the night, leaving my poor wife defenseless against this burglar? I was worried if I didn’t I would lose my job. So I prayed for her and left for work.
We rush out one morning to start our car but it won’t do anything. It must be the battery, or worse, the starter, or even worse, the alternator. What if it blew the head gasket? I just paid the car off and now I have to get another car with payments. Then you realize that it wasn’t all the way engaged in gear so the safety mechanisms kept it from starting.
The list goes on. A letter from the IRS that turns out to be nothing. A phone call in the middle of the night that turns out to be a wrong number. Sirens in the distance right after your teenager has left the house with your car. We all have worry boxes, don’t we?
As we continue to look at Abram, we will discover that he too had a worry box. And that worry box caused him many difficulties.
Abram was told to leave his native land and go to the land that God would show him. In obedience, he did so taking his wife, Sarai, his nephew, and all his livestock and trained servants, which numbered over 300. God promised him a land mass that was about the size of New Jersey. There Abram traveled around and built two altars to worship God. Life was grand. His relationship with God was intimate. God had proven himself faithful.
Then a famine hit. His worry box filled up. Suddenly it was difficult to find grazing areas for his cattle. Another worry went in. Suddenly he was faced with the challenge of caring for 300 + people. The worry box is filling up.
I wonder if he began to question God. Worries will make you do that. I wonder if he returned to the altars he had built and to seek the Lord. Worries tend to keep you away from God. So what did he do? Let’s examine that question and learn some lessons. Lesson one Don’t blame the world
“At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.” (Genesis 12:10)
Egypt is the ideal place. The Nile River courses throughout the land. This reliable source of water results in plentiful harvest and healthy livestock. Abram has undoubtedly heard of this wonderful place and he leaves behind his altars and his promise and turns to Egypt for the solution to his problem. The Bible says he was forced to go to Egypt but the word used here indicates that he felt there was no other choice.