Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fear, Failure, and Finding the Way Home

Genesis 12:10-20 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. And it came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and it will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you." And it came about when Abram came into Egypt; the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And Pharaoh's officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. Gen 12:16 Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. Then 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 commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.

This episode in Abraham's life reminds us that even the most favored of God's children have feet of clay. It should also remind us that we have an unseen enemy. There is no mention of the devil's presence in these passages, but as I have meditated on what is at stake here I see his fingerprints everywhere. God promised the serpent in Genesis 3:15 that Eve's seed would crush his head. Galatians 3:16 makes it clear that the seed was Christ. Satan is not all-knowing and he had no way of discerning whether it was Sarah or Abraham who was barren, but he did know that God was establishing the line through which the seed would come. God has a plan for your life, so does Satan and in subtle and cunning ways he is working his plan to thwart your God given destiny.

As the famine forced a temporary move to Egypt, fear began to rise in Abraham's heart. Can’t you hear the enemy floating thoughts into his mind, "Your God isn't taking very good care of you in this land He says He's giving you is He? Look how beautiful your wife is, you're a dead man when the men in Egypt see her." I have a friend who is a Vietnam veteran. He gave me a great acrostic for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. Jesus calls the devil the "Father of Lies" in John 8:44 so we continue to pick up his fingerprints in this sad scenario. Abraham asks Sarah to obscure the true nature of their relationship so that it will go well with him. He abdicates his role, leaving her vulnerable, to protect himself. We know from Genesis 20:13 that lying about Sarah became a way of life for Abraham and lying became a character flaw in his son (see Genesis 26:6-7) and his grandson. (Genesis 27:18) When we open a door of opportunity to the devil, he always overstays his welcome. Satan makes sure Abraham’s fears come upon him. Pharaoh takes Sarah as his wife and rewards Abraham. I'm sure the devil was strutting thinking, "I've wrecked the plan or at least slowed it down until he finds another wife. God's picked a real charmer to make a great nation." I love these words, "But the LORD." Pharaoh and his household are plagued with sickness and Sarah's true identity is uncovered. He gives her back to Abraham and as a rule kings don't give things back. Pharaoh's fear of God checkmates Abraham's fear of man. Mr. "Blessing to the whole earth" is "escorted" out of the country. God is so amazing, "He watches over His word to perform it," even though we, on our side, can really mess up.

We should be encouraged and warned. 2 Peter 1:4a tells us that "He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that we may participate in the divine nature." We have great promises from a great God. We have fierce opposition from an unseen foe. He loves to float thoughts into our minds to move us from faith to fear... from trusting God to self-preservation. The outcome is seldom pretty. God in His faithfulness stepped in and delivered, but not all the consequences were removed. We always reap enough of what we have sown to motivate permanent change in our character.

Gen 13:1, 3-4 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him; and Lot with him. And he went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been AT THE BEGINNING, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar, which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

In chapter 13 we see Abraham returning to where he had been at the beginning. He's back at the altar, calling on the name of the Lord. This is a beautiful picture of finding the road home after we have lost our way.

MY PRAYER: Lord, help me to stand on your promises and not give place to Satan’s lies. Help me to walk in faith with you and not fear.

MY CONFESSION: "You have given your peace to me. I will not let my heart be troubled, nor will I let it be fearful.” John 14:27 I stand on your word!

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