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Abraham's Plan Goes South
Scripture: Genesis 12:10-20; Genesis 13:1-4; 2 Cori...
Track 3 of 11 in the Abraham series
Running time: 59 minutes, 56 seconds.
There is no question that crisis do come into everyones life sometime. It is not the crisis that is the real issue, it is how we respond to the crisis that is the key. A test of faith for the Christian isnt just about times when things go wrong, we are tested all the time in our faith even when everything is going well. Faith is not something we pull out of our pocket when we need to use it; living in faith to God is an every minute journey.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Abraham’s Plan “Goes South”

Have you ever felt great about your relationship with God and suddenly the bottom drops out? You committed your life to God, to follow him fully and then everything seems to go south. A lot of books have been written about this phenomena but the only book we really need to read and look into is the Bible because there are many examples of this phenomena happening. In reality, it isn’t something strange that mysteriously happens; in most cases found in scripture, the results were self inflicted.

You probably heard this at least once in your life, beware, after great events with God comes the attack from Satan. Just when you think everything is in order spiritually, you face a crisis, in reality, a test of faith. These tests come in many forms and happen in many ways. In most cases the crises is not as serious as the mistakes we make in reaction to it. In fact, it is usually when we find ourselves in crises the temptation is to try and fix things using our wisdom and our understanding. When that happens usually the results turn out to be a disaster.

Last week we left Abraham at a high point with God. For the first time in Abraham’s life he built an altar and worshiped God Almighty and not other gods of wood or stone. Abraham made the transition from idolatry. Once Abraham obeyed God fully and crossed the desert into Canaan, God appeared to him and affirmed His promise to give the new land to Abraham and his decedents. But we will see that it didn’t take long after that event for a crisis to quickly strike.

Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land…

Have ever experienced a time when you asked God what was happening, why a crisis was given to you? Does your life seem to be one crisis followed by another one over and over again? Why does that happen?

There is no question that crisis do come into everyone’s life sometime. It is not the crisis that is the real issue, it is how we respond to the crisis that is the key. A test of faith for the Christian isn’t just about times when things go wrong, we are tested all the time in our faith even when everything is going fine. Faith is not something we pull out of our pocket when we need to use it; living in faith to God is an every minute journey.

Faith + Wisdom = How We Make Decisions

How different is life for Abraham now that he is in Canaan? How is it different than when he lived in Ur? Do you think he ever experienced a famine before? Probably not in Ur or Haran; both are areas that have prosperous and productive lands due to the multiple rivers that flow there.

Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

In scripture we see several times when famine ravaged the Palestine and the Egyptian area. Sometimes God caused the famines because of sin while other times they were used to fulfill His purpose. Sometimes famines just happened but in all these situations it was the reaction to them by God’s people that became the key story in the crisis. For Abraham the situation was no different. A famine happened and for Abraham and his family, a decision had to be made. He probably hadn’t experienced this before so he might have felt a little desperate in making a clear and good decision.

When is the worst time to make an important decision? Why? When you are desperate, how do you go about making decisions?

Can you tell me the role Egypt played in the lives of God’s children when crisis came? Who were some of the people that sought refuge in Egypt when times got very tough? Abraham, Joseph and Jacob, Jesus

We can only imagine the criticism Abraham received once this famine started. He uprooted his entire family from Ur and moved them out to a place that God promised would be his. This land was to be such a wonderful place to live…a place full of plenty. But now a famine was severe according to scripture and decisions had to be made on how to survive. Abraham was under a lot of pressure. From what we read in Genesis, Abraham wasted no time in deciding what he would do. Most likely his neighbors were doing the same thing; they were fleeing to Egypt for help and refuge.

I am not real keen on disaster movies because with most of them the story line is a little unrealistic. But they do get me to think how I would react if I were in the same situations. If you found yourself in a situation where aliens were attacking our world trying to wipe out all human existence, what would you do? How would you respond? What about a total global financial meltdown, are you ready or would yourself in a desperate situation?

Something is missing from Abraham’s decision making process; what was it? What direction did God give Abraham concerning this problem? What mistake did he make? He made a man-centered decision.

It is not recorded when Abraham consulted God on what He wanted Abraham to do. Maybe God still would have sent him to Egypt but under a different plan. But how many times do we see in Scripture when God sustained His people miraculously with no limits to what He can do? Time after time God provided for every need. What would have happened if God told Abraham to stay in Canaan and though the works of Almighty God his family was provided for? What testimony would that have on Abraham’s neighbors? Maybe even his neighbors could have been saved because of Abraham’s faith and relationship with God. We will never know because Abraham decided to move to Egypt for refuge and help.

I ask myself from time to time, what opportunities have I robbed God of to display His mighty power? Are there decisions I made on my own that left God out and limited His power and slowed His plan for my life? How many people have I kept from know God all because I made decisions that didn’t include God and He wasn’t allowed to affect others through my faith? What about you?

Genesis 12:11-16 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.

If you will remember, scripture made it very clear that the human race at that time was deeply sinful. Abraham was no fool, he knew what motivated these men. He knew the practice of Egyptian Royalty and their men of war, if they found a woman they wanted and she was married to another man, they would simply kill the husband and add the woman to his or his master’s harem.

There are some very interesting revelations about Abraham from all that was said by him and what eventually happened, what are they?

• First, his decision to move to Egypt was not God’s plan
• His plan was developed to save himself from being killed
• His plan didn’t include the safety or the sanctity of Sarah’s life or well being
• He lied to save his own life. (In reality, Sarah really was his half-sister, the daughter of his father but not the daughter of his mother. But she still was his wife)
• When she was taken, there was no effort on Abraham’s part to save his wife, he let her be taken into the house of another man. Sarah offered no resistance either, both agreed to the plan.
• Abraham was treated well because of his decision.

Explain something to me, how could a man save his own life at the expense of giving up his wife? What has to go through a man’s mind in order to do this? How desperate do you have to be to make this decision? Wives, how desperate do you have to be to agree to something like this? Not only do you agree, you play the game well in order to make the plan work? What does this episode in scripture tell you about Abraham and Sarah as individuals and as a married couple?

We can’t forget where these two people came from. They lived all their lives as pagans and in a pagan culture. This type of living was all around them all the time so when desperate times hit them, they used their experience to survive; they did not have morals based on God’s laws.

Genesis 12:17-20 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

In these verses a lot is said but a lot is left out. I would love to know if Sarah ever had sex with Pharaoh. Maybe it was her turn in the harem and God had to act. How did Pharaoh discover that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and not his sister and how did Pharaoh conclude the disease was related to Abraham’s lie? How all this came about is not really important. What is important is the lie was discovered and Pharaoh called Abraham on the carpet for it. He expelled Abraham and Sarah from Egypt and forced them to leave.

What does this passage say about God’s patience and grace? Any idea why God punished Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Abraham’s lie and not Abraham and Sarah? Also note what they left with when they traveled back to Canaan?

We are not told how long Abraham and Sarah stayed in Egypt. I suspect it wasn’t long due to the fact that they probably weren’t supposed to be there in the first place and the lie they told placed serious consequences in God’s plan. This is the second time Abraham found himself in the wrong place. God didn’t want him in Haran and God definitely didn’t want him in Egypt. God called him to Canaan and to Canaan the couple returned.

Genesis 131-4 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

What happened to the famine? In a famine, how did Abraham’s flocks and herds flourish and how did Abraham grow wealthy? What is significant about verse 4? What do you think would have happened if he had done this when making decisions about the famine earlier?

I think there are some things we can learn from this event in Abraham’s life:

You and I will face periodic crisis in our Christian lives, even when we are following God fully.

I don’t know about you but I tend to stand still when I don’t face struggles. Sometimes crisis and change is needed to get me to move in a direction God wants me to go. Some crises are natural circumstances of life. Since we live in an environment that is ungodly, sometimes we fall victim to our environment. People steal and rob, people kill, our bodies are not glorified yet so we get sick, some of us get serious illnesses and all of us will die. We are just not told how and none of it is fair or will make any sense. We just have to expect it.

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.

What is the worst thing we can do when we find ourselves in a crisis? Be disobedient.

What should we do?

• Consult God first
• Consult other MATURE Christians
• Observe circumstances carefully – don’t make quick or rash decisions. Take the proper time to decide, allow God to lead.
• Be cautious about feelings. Emotions have a tendency to lie to us yet it usually is our feelings and emotions we go to first when making critical decisions. Too often Christians make a mistake to think how they feel is how the Holy Spirit leads them…”I feel this is where the Holy Spirit is leading me”.

What is the problem in feeling this way about the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit doesn’t lead through feelings or emotions, He is stable, emotions and feelings aren’t. The HS never wavers when it comes to His will and most of the time His will is found in Scripture.