Abraham was chosen by God; but he was not perfect by any means. Today we’ll look at an account in Genesis where Abraham gets tangled in a messy lie, and faces heavy consequences. We’ll see how when we are living in sin, it’s impossible to worship God.
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Transcript: Welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you joined us again today, as we study the life of Abraham. We’ve titled this series “Strength for the Journey,” and today my topic is trusting God when the wells are dry.
If you’re in the twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis, you know that God led Abraham into the land. And then we get to verse 10, and it says that there was a famine in the land, and Abraham went down into Egypt. Who called for that famine, by the way? Of course, that was God, because this is going to be a test of Abraham’s faith. And so he’s in a point of difficulty and he panics; and he goes down to Egypt. And when he went down to Egypt, it was not just down geographically. It was down spiritually.
This is Abraham in a backslidden state. He says to his wife, Sarah, who obviously was very beautiful. She must have been the Liz Taylor of her era; she’s 65. But he says to her, “Say that you are my sister.” Strictly speaking, there was some truth to that; because later on, he clarifies that “we share the same father, but not the same mother.” She was his half sister. But as you and I know, that oftentimes a half truth is a whole lie. What he thought was that if they discovered that she is his wife, yes, they will kill him, he thought; and they would keep her… If I say that you’re my sister, if we go with that lie, then they’ll pay me a dowry.
And that’s exactly what happened. Abraham is blessed as a result of his lie. As a matter of fact, he is given various things such as oxen, and sheep and male servants, and all the list of things that he might want to have. But of course, eventually—eventually it turns against him. And the lie is exposed. And we don’t know what happened, but it’s clear that Pharaoh had actually taken Sarah as his wife. In other words, she became part of his harem. Definitely Abraham threw his wife under the bus, so to speak. It’s a tragic story.
Eventually God plagues Pharaoh, when he realizes what happened. And he sends Abraham and Sarah out of the land; and says, in effect, “Get out of here!” Can’t you just imagine Abraham turning to Pharaoh and saying, “Oh by the way, Pharaoh, I am the worshiper of the true God; and you know, you should worship Him too.” In our language, Pharaoh would say, “Spare me. If you’re a worshiper of the true God, I want nothing to do with your God, thank you very much.” And Abraham leaves the land without a witness, and he is finally back in Canaan.
Now isn’t this interesting? When God calls Abraham, he goes into the land of Canaan; and wherever he goes, he builds an altar unto the Lord. He builds a place of worship. But I can tell you there was no altar in Egypt, not at all. As a matter of fact, because he was backslidden there, there was no interest in really worshiping the living and the true God. He gets back to the land and then he builds an altar.
Here’s what I want to leave with you today. Don’t go anywhere where you cannot worship God. Now today, of course, we don’t have altars. We don’t build them. As a matter of fact, we don’t have an altar because Jesus Christ was sacrificed on our behalf. So I’m speaking figuratively. And if you can’t go to a geographical place to worship, I can understand that. Some of you may be in a hospital, or you may be in a closed country where you cannot go to worship, but don’t go anywhere emotionally or spiritually unless, within your heart and your mind, you can worship the living and the true God.
The only way to keep ourselves from backsliding is to maintain that fellowship with Almighty God, because when we backslide, the consequences are enormous. And some of those consequences are going to become clear in future episodes.
So glad that you have joined us today. Join us again next time, because I’m gonna continue this very story and the lessons that we can learn—what happens when the wells dry up. But as for today, remember that altar, figuratively speaking. You just go with God.