Genesis 12:10-20 today and the notes gave been provided by Heather.
The severe famine that we read about in today’s passage is a testing time for Abram in his relationship with God and his faith in God’s provision. We don’t have many details about his relationship with God thus far, except that God has called Abram to follow him and promised to bless him and Abram has acted on those promises. Now comes this difficult circumstance – what should Abram do now, faced with difficulty in maintaining food supplies for his flocks and his family?
He clearly thought long and hard about moving down to Egypt – and it was the obvious thing to do, though we don’t read that he asked God for guidance at this point.
Fear for the future suddenly seems to have overtaken faith, so that he makes his own plan to survive by passing off Sarai as his sister, instead of acknowledging her as his wife.
This deception caused more and more problems for Abram in Egypt as he traded on his wife’s beauty and indeed almost lost her! God had to intervene (v17) to keep Abram on track for the fulfilment of the promise and vision He had given Abram, ‘to bless all people of the earth through him’.
Abram must surely have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the truth came out and the situation was resolved – though he must equally have been shame-faced at Pharaoh’s legitimate rebuke! (v18). I guess we have all experienced God’s help at some time in getting us out of sticky situations of our own making. Let’s thank God that when we do go wrong, He graciously is still there, willing and able to restore us and sort things out, so that hopefully we learn from our mistakes and don’t repeat them! I’m sure this was a big lesson for Abram at the time (though he needed to learn it again later (20:2)!)
Between these two similar incidents, (chapters 12-20) Abram’s relationship with God and his faith in God’s providing grew hugely, as we shall see. Even so, the second similar temptation to fear serves to remind us that temptation is never far away for anyone claiming a relationship with God. Paul assures us that through Jesus’ death, the power of temptation and sin is broken (Romans 6), but the tempter still doesn’t give up and we need to put on the whole armour of God, especially the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:11), to have the power to stand against the devil’s schemes.
Abram was fearful for his personal safety despite God’s promise to him. Before we judge him for that, it will be illuminating for us to think about the effect fear of any sort has on our spiritual lives – i.e. what causes fear? Why are we fearful? What does fear make us think and do?
Fear can dominate and crowd out the memory of God’s gracious promises to us….at its core, it causes us to diminish our trust in God’s gracious and loving sovereignty over our lives (Romans 8:28)
We need to constantly tell ourselves that God is ‘for us’ and has promised to bless us if we trust and obey.