Abraham, Sarah, Lot, and all of the servants that they had acquired in Haran departed into the land of Canaan. Genesis 12:5 tells us simply that: “They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” We so often complain about the hardships and struggles that prohibit us from entering God’s place of blessing for us, but once we resolve the matter in our own hearts, once we trust that He is able to bring us to the place where He is calling us, it is really no difficult matter at all. We, too, can set out for the Promised Land, and into that Land we shall go.
But lest we believe that the matter is forever settled once our feet enter into the Land of Promise, let us read a few verses farther. Abraham, the man of faith, will have his faith tried after he reaches the land of Canaan, for a famine came upon the new land where God had brought him, and Abraham fled into Egypt.
Taking Matters Into His Own Hands
Without question, God’s intention was never for Abraham and his group to starve to death in the Promised Land. But it is also apparent that God did not intend for Abraham to leave Canaan, either. I believe that it was the Lord’s intention to teach Abraham to trust Him. God doesn’t lead us to the Land of Promise just so that we can worry over how we are going to survive once we get there. Nor does He save us just so that we can be anxious over where our next meal is coming from (Matthew 6:25). God will sometimes allow the famines to come into our lives so that we can learn to turn our trust to Him. If we are never in a place of need, we will never look to Him for our provision.
Abraham responded to the famine the same way that we so often do: he attempted to take care of the problem himself. Since he was running out of food where he was at, he would simply go somewhere else. Even though his foot was upon the land that God had clearly told him He was going to give to him (Genesis 12:7), Abraham decided that if he was going to eat, he had better take off for somewhere else. He believed that God could move Heaven and Earth and cause a great nation to spring forth from a childless man in the twilight of his life, married to a barren woman beyond the age of child-bearing, but he did not believe that God could feed him in the land where He had brought him. Are we any different? We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day raise our lifeless bodies and bring us to the Place that He has prepared for us, yet we doubt that He can provide for our most basic of needs in this life?
No Trust For His Safety
“Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.” (Genesis 12:12-13)
So, as they come close to entering the land of Egypt, Abraham pulls Sarah, his wife, aside and makes a most unusual request of her. Do not tell anyone in Egypt that you are my wife because they will kill me so that they can have you. Strange words, indeed, for a man who packed up and left all that he had based on the promise of God that He would make a great nation of him! He was obviously not believing this promise now; how would God make good on His promise if He allowed Abraham to be murdered in Egypt? Yet once we doubt God at one point, it is only natural that we will begin to doubt Him at others. Abraham did not believe that God would continue to provide for his needs back in Canaan, so it was natural that he would stop believing that God would provide for his safety down in Egypt. If we can doubt God’s integrity in one area, how can we possibly maintain our faith in any other?
Pharaoh Has The Last Word
Abraham’s scheme backfired horribly. Sarah had caught the attention of no less than the Pharaoh himself and, supposing her to be unmarried and Abraham to be merely her brother, Pharaoh betrothed her to be his wife. Not only this, Pharaoh bestowed great gifts upon Abraham (thinking him to be her next of kin) and gave to him the finest things of Egypt as a dowry. Abraham had supposed that the heathens of Egypt would be no more than blood-thirsty, wife-stealing criminals, but the behavior of Pharaoh is far and beyond the more honorable than his own. What is more humiliating than when the conduct of the sinner is far nobler than that of the people of God? What can bring more shame upon our heads than when the depraved exhibit a greater sense of morality than we do? The man who had been promised that all of the families of the Earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3) had so far only brought a plague and curse upon the house of Pharaoh by his own sin!
“Now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way” (Genesis 12:19)
God is not relying on our ingenuity to bring about His will in our lives. Once we lose faith in God and decide that we ourselves are going to help His purposes along, we are forced to use the methods and ways of this world. We leave ourselves to nothing but our own humanly devices when we step out of His will for us and, consequently, set ourselves up to fail and fail miserably. Our enemies are not flesh and blood, neither are our weapons carnal. When we step away from God’s will, we forsake His strength and power and we are left standing in a very dangerous place.
We all have the tendency to lean on our own understanding, to want to fall back on using the ways of the world when the times get hard. But we must trust that God will provide for us when we are in His will. The world believes that the end justifies the means, but as servants of God we are obliged to act with the utmost integrity and honesty. We are not afforded the discretion to lie to those around us, even to save our own skin. Our own journey to the Place of Promise must be one where God is honored in every step we take and His holy commandments upheld. How we get there and what we do along the way is important, not just getting there.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published November 27, 2009]
**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]