< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Compromise with faith never pays

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Compromise with faith never pays

Genesis 12:6-7 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

When Abraham first entered Canaan, he settled in the sparsely populated area around Shechem, among the hills that later became the land of Samaria. The Canaanites were in this land, yet God was promising to give it to Abraham and his descendents. (Which he didn’t have yet.) It seemed unlikely. But Isaiah 55: 10 -11 says that God’s word does not fail; it accomplishes His full purpose.

God appeared to Abraham. Abraham believed God’s promises and was rewarded with more of God. And then Abraham built an altar to Him. It was in response to God’s new revelation of Himself to him.

I read a little sign someone posted online while I was working on this lesson. It said        “Man says show me and I will trust you. God says, trust me and I will show you.”

Genesis 12:8-9 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Abraham continued to move forward. He builds another altar. Bethel means house of God.

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.

Abraham faced a test here. God allowed a famine in the land. Abraham could have decided that God didn’t care about him: wasn’t it enough he had moved his family away from home and now this? He could have gone back to his old life in Harran and given up on God’s promise. But he didn’t. He didn’t go back, he decided to wait it out elsewhere.

Christians have tests all the time. Often the very same ones non-Christians have. Hopefully the world sees a difference in how we handle these. Not with self-pity, but with a joyous trust that God is going to reveal Himself in a new way in this trial and that some great undreamed of blessing will result from it.

Genesis 12: 11-12 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

Here though we do see a failure in faith on Abraham’s part. There’s no record that Abraham prayed to God about this first. He may not even have prayed about going to Egypt when the going got tough. As a result his move led to complications and unhappiness. Out of God’s will he realized his insecurity. Sarah, his wife was beautiful. They would kill him to get her. Therefore he told her to lie. To say she was his sister. (Actually she WAS his half-sister. They had the same father, but not the same mother.) But they were hiding the fact that they were husband and wife. And they felt fear because they didn’t trust God to take care of them.

Genesis 12: 13-20 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 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!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

This shows God’s grace and mercy. Even when we fail Him, He is faithful. Sarah was to be the mother of God’s miraculous promised seed, Isaac, which ultimately would result in the birth of Christ. He got her out of there. But there were consequences. Abraham was rebuked by the Pharoah. And the riches given to Abraham and Lot in Egypt became one cause of Lot’s separation later from Abraham. AND Abraham and Sarah took with them a slave girl named Hagar – and we know what kind of trouble that causes later on!

Compromise with faith never pays.

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