Contractors know that not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes there are bumps in the road, detours that cripple success. But othertimes careless choices are made in the building process that affect the safety and efficiency of the crew.
Abraham was a man who set the stage for building a relationship with God. Stone by stone he laid the greatest symbol of fellowship with God: an altar. But there was a time when Abraham did not choose his materials nor his plans very wisely.
Genesis 21:10–“And there was famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there;…”
A lot happens when famine comes into a land. People become desperate and restless at the thought of not having enough. They become irrational, and faith is set aside.
The fear of going without can drive any man to doubt God’s purpose for his life, but we must remember that God’s greatest resource is…nothing. When we have come to the end of ourselves, we have opened the door for God to do His greatest work. Running on empty is not always pleasant or fun, but it is necessary to live a life of biblical manhood.
After Abraham received the promise of a land, seed, and blessing, famine came into the land. I’ll remind you that God led him into that land and ordained the famine. But just because famine comes does not mean that fear has to come as well. Abraham failed this test, and in fear of what might have been, he fled to Egypt in search for what God already had.
Think of his possible motives for a moment:
Well, it’s for the best.
What will happen if we stay?
My family will starve!
Abraham may have conversed with Sarah about the move, but he failed to ask God if it was a good idea. Your motives can be righteous at the surface, but if God has not directed the decision, it is best to wait.
There is no evidence of Abraham’s building an altar to God as he had done before. Just a quick move and slight turn of the compass, and Egypt became his home.
Sin will always take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.
We see Abraham’s steady decline as he began lying to cover up Sarah’s identity. She was beautiful, and he could not bear the weight of losing her. His lies were eventually unveiled, and with divine intervention, God ushered them out of Egypt as quickly as they had come in.
Abraham then found himself starting all over, in the very place he had been before. “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. Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first:…” Genesis 13:3-4.
God brought Abraham back to a place of fellowship and communion “…and there Abram called unto the name of the Lord.”
So all is well, right? He just took a little detour, but he got back on track. I mean, nobody got hurt, and it all worked out!
…or did it?
Decisions always come with a price: good or bad. His small sojourney of fear did not go without leaving its mark on his family.
When friction came between Abraham’s and Lot’s herds, Lot began to look elsewhere: somewhere out from under “ole Uncle Abram.” When gazing to the well-watered plains of Jordan, Lot’s mind began to embellish life near Sodom.
“…it was…like the land of Egypt…” Genesis 13:10.
But how did Lot know what the land of Egypt looked like? Because he had been there with Uncle Abraham. I believe Abraham’s change of plans sowed a seed into a young Lot’s heart for the ways of Egypt. That seed would eventually sprout into a “rational” move to the city of Sodom, and flourish with a broken family fleeing destruction.
The effects did not stop there. After receiving the covenant of the promised seed in his old age, Abraham could not convince his wife that God would work a miracle. Sarah blamed the Lord for her barrenness and offered Hagar to Abraham in her stead.
Do you remember where Hagar came from? She was an Egyptian.
“And Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sarai,” (Genesis 16:2) and went in unto Hagar.
Hagar conceived and birthed Ishmael who would cause friction in the family and ultimately fight against the people of Israel even to this day.
One monumental leave of the altar followed Abraham for the rest of his life.
Your detours from the altar will not just affect you. One moment of “rational” decision of leaning to your own understanding can begin a spiral of hurt and regret. A small step away from the altar could plant someone else’s heart into the ways of this world.
Who has God placed in your care?
Who is counting on your personal walk with the Lord to help them along life’s journey?
Remember, they are counting on you. Don’t focus on your famine; set your focus on God.
He who has ordained the famine and is able to feed His children through barren lands.
If you will continue to build the altar of communion, direction, and sacrifice to God, He will put you right where you need to be and give you exactly what you need. Abraham took a detour from the altar because of famine…