Submission and Obedience


With God's call to "Go Forth" from Haran to a land God would show him, Abram did it! He put action to his faith and made the long trek. Once he was in Canaan, God gave a distinct promise that Abram's descendants would inherit that country. In making His declaration, God also revealed Himself in a form Abram could see. Overwhelmed by the privilege of seeing God intimately, Abram built an altar to the LORD at the oak of Moreh.

After that mountaintop experience with God, Abram moved on and pitched his tent between the towns of Bethel, that means 'house of God', and Ai. He built an altar to the LORD there, too, and called on His name. Formerly a pagan in Haran and originaly from Ur of the Chaldees, Abram was learning who his new Friend was and how to worship Him correctly. His old ways of thinking and doing needed to be replaced with a faith walk in all dimensions of his life.

It was during this transition to becoming a man of God that famine broke out in Canaan. Abram was hungry and so were his family and livestock. Egypt had plenty of food, news borne by merchants probably following the same trade route Abram had journeyed from Haran to Canaan. Food and its abundance or lack drives people more than any other commodity in times of want.

Thus, Abram took his troop of people and headed for Egypt.

Understand that probably when Abram worshipped pagan gods, his thought life and how he processed events in his life were subject to his figuring out the best way to manage. As head of the clan, it was his responsibility to assure their safety and welfare. That's how it appears here. Instead of calling on God for provision or direction, Abram traveled again, this time under his own reasoning and power. Chapter 12 of Genesis continues his story.

All went well until they neared the border of Egypt. Then Abram got cold feet. Sarai, his wife, was a beautiful woman. She would be a welcome addition to the Pharaoh's harem and Abram feared Pharaoh would have him killed to gain possession of her. Without ever reflecting on the promise of God that his descendants would inherit Canaan--and just then he had no descendants, so God had to have a plan not revealed as yet--Abram cooked up a charade to get himself off the hook.

Sarai would pose as his sister. Abram's life would be spared and they could live safely in Egypt during the famine. Sounded like an airtight scheme. Little did he dream his ruse would backfire so drastically that he couldn't get himself out of the mess. God alone would have to intervene.

Once they entered Egypt and Pharaoh's men laid eyes on Sarai, they were impressed! Off they went to see their boss. On their glowing recommendation, the men returned and took Sarai to Pharaoh's house. Of course, they took Abram and his entire company, also, and Pharaoh treated him royally because of Sarai. Pharaoh lavished livestock and servants on Abram. He would live well as he rode out the famine in Canaan.

Abram had departed from God's will for his life. God purposed through Abram to raise up a people who worshipped Him alone and through whom He could one day send a Redeeming Lamb for the sins of His people.

Now Sarai could become pregnant with Pharaoh's child and thus short-circuit God's plan and purpose for all humankind. God intended to bring forth through Abram and Sarai a nation that would one day give rise to His Son. Abram's short-sighted decision had far greater consequences than he ever imagined.

God invaded the situation. A plague struck Pharaoh and all his household. By that time Sarai probably had told Pharaoh's servants that she really was Abram's wife and that God had sent the plague.

Pharaoh was not a happy camper! Abram had made him look like a fool! So Pharaoh sent for Abram and exposed his lie! "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she is your wife? Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go."

Pharaoh instructed his men to escort Abram away with all that belonged to him. He left Egypt in disgrace. How he and his family survived the famine we are not told. They must have left with supplies and food galore that Pharaoh gave them so they would leave the country. What Abram had begun as a way to represent God well to an occult-worshipping ruler and his country turned out to be a failure. All because he took matters into his own hands.

God gave us this picture of Abram's failure so we can learn from it. Never are we to rely on our wits when we're in a tight situation. Always, we must turn to God and wait for Him to show us what to do. Romans 12:1-2 says our minds must be transformed; that is, our ways of thinking and processing every day events as we encounter them must be according to the mind of Christ. There is no room for carelessness or excuse. That is how we learn what the voice of the Holy Spirit sounds like as we develop the habit of listening for Him and obeying what He directs us to do.

Abram knew he had gone against God's will for his and Sarai's lives. God's word says that after he left Egypt, they went to the south country of Canaan to what is now called the Negev desert. From there they proceeded back to where Abram had pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai. He had gone full circle from there to Egypt and back...to the place where he had worshipped God before making his very mistaken decision.

Abram had learned two valuable lessons. First, he would not make a move without first asking God what to do. Second, because he had sinned, he had to retrace his steps back to the altar of sacrifice and repentance. When he did that, his fellowship with God was restored. How do we know that? Because God says in His word, "Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." Abram treasured the face of God more than anything else in the world. He returned to where he had worshipped, and God was there!

Yes, Abram had seriously caused shame and cast God in a bad light to the Egyptians, but God was faithful in restoring Abram to fellowship. And His plan was not diverted. Abram would still be the father of a nation...someday.

Do not give up when you get out of the will of God for your life. No matter what you did, get up from your fall and get down on your knees before Him to find His forgiveness and restoration. Then, keep serving Him. No matter how the enemy of our souls accuses you of sin, once it is under the blood of Jesus' atonement, God has forgiven and forgotten it. Forgive yourself and get going for God! Abram did and God lifted him as the example of living by faith! Keep pressing forward. That's what following Jesus is all about!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®
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