Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďABRAHAMíS LACK OF FAITHĒ

Genesis 12.1-13.4

 

As we contemplate our upcoming special offering, and as we reflect on the challenging messages brought to us recently, I want to bring before you the example of Abraham with respect to this thing referred to as faith.

Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter 12. When you find that portion of Godís Word, stand, and read along with me silently from verse 1, as I read aloud:

 

1      Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fatherís house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2      And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3      And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4      So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5      And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brotherís son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

6      And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

7      And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

8      And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

9      And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

10     And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

11     And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

12     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.

13     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.

14     And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

15     The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaohís house.

16     And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

17     And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abramís wife.

18     And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

19     Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

20     And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

1      And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

2      And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

3      And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;

4      Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

 

We learn from Stephen in Acts 7.2, ďThe God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia . . . And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.Ē In Hebrews 11.8, we learn that Abramís trek from Ur of the Chaldees to dwell in the Promised Land was a journey taken by faith. In Hebrews 11.9, we learn that his time in the Promised Land was also an exercise of faith.

However, Abramís excursion into Egypt was not by faith. Why so? Living in the Promised Land was an exercise of God-given faith; therefore not living in the Promised Land was not an exercise of God-given faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14.23, ďwhatsoever is not of faith is sin.Ē Abram started out by faith, but he lapsed. He began by faith, but his faith was interrupted. He initially chose to surrender to the will of God for his life, but along the way he faltered. To be sure, he stumbled at a time when there was famine in the land, but stumble he certainly did.

Why do I label Abramís flight to Egypt to escape the famine in the Promised Land a lapse, an interruption, a faltering, a stumble? Two reasons: First, God told him to leave the land of his birth to go to a place God would show him, and while he was in the land of promise his stay there is described in the Bible as faith in action. Thus, to leave the Promised Land where God had told him to dwell in anticipation of great promises being fulfilled was to doubt the capacity of God to take care of him and throw himself on his own resources and wisdom. That, my friend, is not faith in God. A second reason Abramís flight to Egypt to escape the famine that had descended on the Promised Land was a lapse, a stumble, a faltering, and an interruption is the result of a common sense consideration. My friends, Abram descended into Egypt a wealthy man, and returned from Egypt a very wealthy man, according to Genesis 13.2.

That tells us Abram fled to Egypt, not to preserve his life, but to preserve his wealth. You see, those with wealth do not die during a time of famine, they only become less wealthy. It is the poor who run the risk of dying in a famine, not the wealthy. Therefore, we can be sure that Abram left the land of promise, stopped for a time trusting God, not to save his life, but to save his fortune. Therefore, you see, there is no disputing the sinfulness of Abramís actions. Without controversy, he disobeyed God for the sake of money, for the bottom line on his balance sheet, to maintain his standard of living. When faced with the prospect of losing a great deal of money and a reduction of assets while obeying God, he opted to disobey God to preserve his money, to maintain his standard of living, and to even improve his standard of living.

The thing each of us has to understand about faith is that it is voluntary. Abram did not have to leave Ur of the Chaldees and travel to live in the Promised Land. To be sure, God could have forced him to comply, but he would not then have been exercising faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11.6. So you see, in order for us to live by faith God must allow us to exercise freedom of choice. We see that in the life of Abraham, with God allowing him to do something God was not pleased with. However, and this is so frequently overlooked when we find ourselves challenged to exercise faith, there are consequences that must be dealt with whenever someone does not choose to exercise faith.

Each time God challenges you to live by faith and do His blessed will, you have two choices. You can exercise faith and thereby please God in your trusting of Him, or you can freely choose to pass on without exercising faith. However, not living by faith has consequences, and Abrahamís life not only shows us the blessedness of living by faith, but also some of the tragedies of not living by faith.

In the time we have this evening, allow me to discharge to some degree my duty to show you some of the consequences in Abramís life of him freely and of his own volition choosing not to live by faith:

 

First, ANYTHING THAT IS NOT OF FAITH IS SIN

 

Thus, by itself and without consideration of any consequences, Abram choose to disobey God. God wanted him in the Promised Land, called him to the Promised Land, and indicated He had great things for him in the Promised Land, but Abram decided he would rather live in Egypt than the Promised Land, even if it were for only a short time. Since we already know from Romans 14.23 that ďwhatsoever is not of faith is sin,Ē let us understand that Abramís choice to not exercise faith at that point in his life was a strike against God. His decision to move his family to Egypt was a demonstration to the great cloud of witnesses that he did not trust Godís wisdom or he did not trust Godís provision for his life.

Anytime you or I choose not to live by faith, anytime you or I choose not to exercise faith, we are so much as declaring to God who sees us, to the angelic host observing us, to the demon world around us, and to those people observant enough who are paying attention to our actions (such as our children), that we do not think God is able. This Abram did when he took his first step toward Egypt.

 

Next, IT WAS IN EGYPT THAT HE ACQUIRED THE SLAVE NAMED HAGAR

 

Did Abram ever make the connection between his decision to go to Egypt and the problem he faced some years later when his wife prodded him into having sex with Hagar? I am not sure. However, you can be sure that had he not traveled to Egypt he never would have had that slave girl in his household to someday be tempted with by his wife.

Had Abram not traveled to Egypt and returned with Hagar, he would not have fathered Ishmael, of whom the Arabs to this day trace their origins. O, the trouble in the world today that springs from Abramís choice to leave the Promised Land and travel to Egypt. O, the trouble the descendants of Isaac have to this day as a direct result of his father not living by faith and siring an older half-brother whose descendants have forever been their enemies.

My friend, you do not have to live by faith, and that is a fact. However, not only do you impugn the very character of God when you do not live by faith, but you also set in motion a chain of events with consequences we will not fully comprehend until time comes to an end.

 

Third, IT WAS IN EGYPT THAT ABRAMíS WEALTH INCREASED SO THAT HE WAS VERY RICH IN CATTLE, IN SILVER, AND IN GOLD

 

It must be Godís blessings in a manís life for his wealth to increase, for his pile of cash to enlarge, and for his status and stature to be enhanced. Is that not the way folks look at things today? The problem, of course, is that Abramís increase came at the expense of obedience to God rather than because of obedience to God. So, what do you think? Was it a blessing from God for Abramís wealth to accumulate in Egypt, which with its idolatry is a type of the world in the Bible? Consequences. There are always consequences resulting from every decision made, and every action taken. What say we consider the consequences of Abramís increased wealth from Egypt?

According to Genesis 13.6, Abram and his nephew Lot who accompanied him to Egypt could no longer dwell together for their great substance. There simply was not enough grass for their flocks to graze on. Therefore, to keep their herdsmen from fighting, they parted company, with Lot taking the well-watered plain of Jordan, Genesis 13.11. Lot lived near Sodom, and then he lived in Sodom. The wickedness was so great in the city that God determined to destroy it, and sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. However, his sons in law ridiculed him and refused to flee to safety, and his wife disobeyed God, looked back on the city, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

That left Lot and his two daughters, their lives suddenly ruined, widowed and without any prospect of husbands to give them children. You know the result. Incest and two tribes resulting, the Ammonites and the Moabites. As tragic as Abramís lapse in faith was for him and his direct descendants, he could not have conceived the damage done to his beloved nephew Lot and the two little girls he may have bounced on his knee when they were very young.

 

I am not guilt motivating you. Neither am I seeking to fill you with fear. What I am doing is responsibly rehearsing with you the obvious consequences in one manís life and in the lives of his loved ones as a direct result of his own free choice to not exercise faith. God is pleased when you do exercise faith, and He is not pleased when you do not exercise faith. He is delighted when you extol His virtues, and He is offended when you deny or distrust His virtues.

In Abramís case, the consequences of his sin of not living by faith in the Promised Land yielded two kinds of consequences: First immediate consequence, which certainly appeared to be good at first glance, was his increase in wealth. However, it was the eventual consequences, in relation to Hagar and in relation to Lot, which proved to be so terrible. Whenever you sin, even when your sin is the simple decision not to live by faith, there are two sets of consequences, the immediate, and the eventual.

I cannot predict exactly what the consequences of you choosing not to live by faith are, except that while the immediate consequences may seem to be beneficial, the eventual consequences will always be tragic, and sometimes more tragic for your loved ones than for yourself. Therefore, do what you want. No one is forcing you to do anything. Just understand that whatever you choose to do, either to live by faith and please God or not live by faith, there are consequences.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org