Stage Two (Gen. 12:1-9)
By Bob Whitaker
Today we look at stage two of Abraham’s faith. Abraham has traveled to the new land and God now challenges him, “Trust me when you are most vulnerable.” After arriving in Canaan, the land faced a disastrous famine. To the south of Canaan was the land of Egypt, back then known as the “bread basket of the world.” When Abraham and his family were staring in the face of starvation, he conceived of a plan. It may have been during this difficult time that Abraham began to question his decision to follow the advice of an invisible God. It could have been that his family and his servants questioned his judgment in moving away from home. With all of that in the background, Abraham conceived of a plan – go to Egypt where the food is plentiful.
When he arrived in Egypt, it occurred to him that he had another problem. His wife Sarah was beautiful, and he was concerned that the king might kill him and take Sarah as his wife. So, he conspired with Sarah to say that she was not his wife but was his sister. That plan did not work very well because Pharaoh found out the truth and confronted Abraham. “How could you do this,” he said to Abraham, “I might have taken her to be my wife and God would have punished me. Take these gifts and get out of my land.”
Realizing how foolish he had been, Abraham takes the gifts and heads back to Canaan. But notice something. In spite Abraham’s foolish decision God blesses him through Pharaoh. Clearly Abraham conceived of his own plan and did not trust God. He was overwhelmed with self-protection. In fact, he actually put Sarah in harm’s way and there is no indication that he was really worried about her; instead, he was looking out for himself. This is a strange story but there is a silver lining of encouragement in all of Abraham’s foolishness. In spite of his self-centered ways God did not revoke his promise to Abraham. He still used him in spite of his sins.
It reminds me that no one has perfect faith, not even Abraham. It encourages me because I see myself in Abraham’s story. Sometimes I am willing to follow God and other times I am just plain stupid. When I feel most vulnerable I often become the most foolish. When my back is to the wall I come up with crazy plans that have nothing to do with following God. When I am afraid, I become self-centered and self-protective. In times like those I need to remind myself that the Lord is my shepherd. I need to remember that God will supply all my needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus.
I have a feeling that I am not alone in this dilemma. I suspect that some of you right now are feeling very vulnerable. Don’t do something foolish. Don’t trust your own wisdom. Instead, follow your faithful, all-wise, and good shepherd.