The Best of Men- Part 2

  • Pete Johnson
Man walking on a dirt road

Last week we looked at the Call of Abram in Genesis 12. Briefly recapping the story, we observed the great faith that Abram displayed by trusting in God and departing his home, religion, and culture to follow Yahweh- the one true God.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews stated this about him.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

Stephen, in his defense of the gospel in Acts 7 stated this about Abraham

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’  Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.”

As Abram is sojourning in the land, we also see that he is building altars, and act of worship, to God. (Genesis 12:7–8) We see faithful Abram in action, an example for us all.

Then we see in Genesis 12:10, something happens to faithful Abram that would make all of us put our money where our mouth is, –– “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.” Genesis 12:10

As we noted last week, the text doesn’t tell us that Abram sought direction from God in this situation. In this practical trial, Abram did what most of us would do, react to the situation with common sense.

Did God have another plan? Could God have provided a way to provide for Abram during this severe famine?

Let’s layout the facts of what happened because of Abram’s decision to go down to Egypt. 

  • He played deceptive games with the truth:  Abram tells Sara that because she is so beautiful, he fears the Egyptians will kill him because he is her husband so that they can take her. He tells her to say that she is his sister. Sarai was in fact his half-sister: (Genesis 20:11-13) 
  • He had an improper view of marriage:

Abram should have been protecting his wife, but instead, he is concerned about his life and his wellbeing.
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”

If any suitors came calling for his “sister”, he would make the price so high that the interested parties would back off. But he didn’t expect the King of Egypt would be interested. But Pharaoh did come calling!

Pharaoh paid big for Sarai.

“And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.” Genesis 12:16 

Hagar the Egyptian maidservant- the scar of Abram’s faithlessness 

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.” Genesis 16:1 

Through all this Abram’s household, including Lot his nephew is watching…and learning. 

  • Abram’s Testimony was tarnished.

Abram’s actions, the follower of the one true God, are reprimanded by a non-believing pagan king.
“So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was 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.”  And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.” Genesis 12:18–20.

It appeared that Abram came out on the winning end of the deal, that is if you look at the material side of things. He came into Egypt with little and left with great wealth.

Yet he not only left with great wealth he left with a tarnished testimony, but he also set a poor example for those in his household, a relationship with his wife that at minimum was strained, and an Egyptian slave-girl named Hagar.

And we see here that yes, it is true “the best of men are yet men at best”. 

Yet when we are faithless, God is still faithful. God is able to redeem what we have lost.

God didn’t cast off Abram for his mistake. And we read in the next chapter that

Abram goes back to where he first set up an Altar.

“So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.  And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.”

Remember, there are consequences that come from our faithlessness, but there can also be forgiveness from God if we confess.

God is interested in everything in your life, even the famines. Where do you go during the famines? I think that we can learn from Abram not to be rash or move ahead of God’s leading.