God’s Faithfulness to Abraham and to Us – Part 4
We can never find security in our fallen world. Abram learned this the hard way.
He turned to Egypt for relief from famine, but that came out to be a greater disaster for him and his wife. He learned that the Egyptians were violent and immoral. He tried to save his life through lying and deception, but his worldly “strategizing” only put him deeper and deeper into the pit. Sarai was taken “into Pharaoh’s house” (Genesis 12:15) to be his “wife” (verse 19), and Abram could do nothing to rescue her.
Thankfully and gloriously, despite of human sin and weaknesses, the LORD faithfully preserves His children and ensures the fulfillment of His promise. Only through His sovereign intervention, Abram came out of Egypt alive with his wife, her purity preserved (Genesis 12:17-20). Having been chastised by his terrifying experience, he left and traveled all the way… back to the altar that he built in Bethel.
So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the LORD (Genesis 13:1-4)
No Repentance = No Security
As Christian believers, we are like Abram. God has given us His word:
- In Christ, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
- In answer to Jesus’ intercession, the Holy Spirit sanctifies and preserves us.
- On the second coming, as fruit of His death and resurrection, Christ will glorify and give us the new heaven and new earth as our eternal inheritance by grace.
While waiting for the Lord’s return, we are vexed by various trials and tribulations in the world. Like Abraham, we are tempted to turn to the world for security and provision. But we must always remember:
- The only safe place on earth is in the center of God’s will.
- Repentance is the only way to security.
Abram could not remain in Egypt. There was nothing there but danger and disaster for him and his wife. In the same way, we cannot continue relying on ourselves and the things of this world for security and provision. That only puts us in greater troubles and dangers.
In times of trials, great or small, we must ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith. By His grace and power, we must cling to the Lord who gave us His word. He will never fail to keep His promise to preserve and sustain us while we wait for Christ’s second coming. And if we have already strayed away and turned to the world for security and provision, like Abram, we must repent of our sins and worldly “strategizing”, and return to the Lord in faith and worship.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the only place of security and provision for us is the place of faith and worship. There we must return. There we must remain.
And we can rejoice in the glorious truth, that because of Jesus, we can count on the Holy Spirit to guard and keep us. And when we stray away, we can rely on Him to work repentance in our hearts and lead us back to our only safe place – in the center of God’s will – in the altar of faith and worship.
“Abram’s… journey to Beth-el [was] a pilgrimage… a renewal of his lapsed obedience…” – Derek Kidner
“Abram is retracing the steps in reverse by which he had gone to Egypt, and he is heading back to that place where he first came into the land, and where he first called upon the Lord.” – Ligon Duncan
“It is important to notice that he came back, that the way was open for him to come back, and that the Lord received him back…”
– Joyce G. Baldwin
“His great riches gotten in Egypt, did not hinder him in following his vocation.” – Geneva Bible
“We know how greatly even a moderate share of wealth, hinders many from raising their heads towards heaven; while they who really possess abundance, not only lie torpid in indolence, but are entirely buried in the earth… Abram… does not forget what had been divinely commanded him; and, therefore, as one unfettered, he hastens to the place whither he is called. Wherefore, the rich are deprived of all excuse, if they are so rooted in the earth, that they do not attend the call of God. Two extremes, however, are here to be guarded against. Many place angelical perfection in poverty; as if it were impossible to cultivate piety and to serve God, unless riches are cast away… [M]any fanatics repel rich men from the hope of salvation; as if poverty were the only gate of heaven; which yet, sometimes, involves men in more hindrances than riches. But Augustine wisely teaches us, that the rich and poor are collected together in the same inheritance of life; because poor Lazarus was received into the bosom of rich Abraham. On the other hand, we must beware of the opposite evil; lest riches should cast a stumbling block in our way, or should so burden us, that we should the less readily advance towards the kingdom of heaven.”
– John Calvin
“Is he glad to put Egypt behind him? Does the place of worship also become the place of contrition? If it is, the text is silent about any remorse or repentance on Abram’s part. But at least Abram has left behind the unknown and the threatening, and is now back in the familiar, but more importantly in the place where he had earlier built an altar and called on the name of his God. Not once while he was in Egypt did Abram either erect monuments to or invoke his deity.”
– Victor Hamilton