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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Genesis 12

 

 

Verses 1-4

Faith as Exemplified in Abraham

Genesis 12:1-4 , Genesis 12:7-9 ; Genesis 13:14-18

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. Does God still speak to men as He spoke to Abraham? Our Scripture opens with the statement, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram * *." If the Lord said something to Abraham, may He not also say something to us? Does the Lord still guide men into His perfect will?

The Lord said unto Abraham, "Get thee * * unto a land that I will shew thee." The Lord, therefore, undertook to guide Abraham along the way; does He guide us? What we want to know is whether it is possible for a man in the 20th century A. D. to have a contact, personal and direct, with God, such as Abraham had centuries before Christ? Has God changed in His methods?

There is one thing we know; God's direct method of dealing with men is seen from the first verse of the Bible to the last verse of the Bible. We believe that He is now doing the same thing.

Are the ones reading these words guided of God?

2. Does God still make promises to men? God said unto Abraham, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing."

Are the days past and gone when we can count on God's direct promises to us? We know that the Lord told the disciples, "I am with you"; and we know that He said that He would be with us to the end of the world. Is He, therefore, with us personally and individually?

If you feel that you are left out, is it because God left you out, or is it because you yourself have never yielded to Him? because you have never shown any willingness to follow when He spoke?

3. Did the promise God made to Abraham fail? God said:

(1) That He would show Abraham a land; and He did. He showed him the land of Canaan, and told him that He would give that land unto him, and unto his seed.

(2) He told Abraham that He would make of him a great nation. He has done this. What people is there like unto the people of Israel? This is a nation from the loins of Abraham.

(3) He told Abraham that He would make his name great. Is Abraham's name great? Even the rebellious rulers of Israel said, "We have Abraham to our father."

(4) God said, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." We believe that this is true to this day. God pity the individuals, or the nations, which set themselves against the Children of Israel, Abraham's seed; God's curse will rest upon them; the years have proved this. On the other hand, those who bless Abraham's seed are blessed.

4. Did Abraham prove himself a man of faith? Genesis 12:4 begins, "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." In the Book of Hebrews it says that he went out not knowing whither he went. How many saints are there, today, who would pack up their goods, take their families, and start anywhere without knowing where they were going? Abraham did this. Genesis 12:4 tells us, "Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." Genesis 12:5 says, "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan." Genesis 12:6 says "Abram passed through the land." Genesis 12:8 , "He removed from thence unto a mountain on the east." Genesis 12:9 , "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south." Genesis 12:10 says, "Abram went down into Egypt."

I. FAITH WAVERING (Genesis 12:9-12 )

As Abraham moved along his way, he found difficulties. Tests always follow the walk of faith.

1. The promise restated. The 7th verse of Genesis 12:1-20 says, "And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land." He delights in holding before us what He has in view. It is this that we need to keep before our eyes.

David said, "I have set the Lord always before me." Of Moses it is written that he saw the invisible. True men of God look far beyond the present, into the future.

2. The famine. Genesis 12:10 tells us that there was a famine in the land. It did not seem at all as Abraham, perhaps, had imagined. When the famine came Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there. Abraham seemed to forget that wherever God sends us, He can keep us. God proved, in later years, that He could feed obedient servants with manna for bread; and with quails for meat. He proved that He could take water out of a flinty rock, where there was no water. Abraham, however, had not known this, and he went down to Egypt.

3. Sarah was taken. When they arrived in Egypt Abraham said unto his wife, "I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 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." Whenever we get down into Egypt, our faith wavers. God had said, "Unto thee, and to thy seed," and Sarah was a party to the promise; yet, Abraham was afraid for Sarah's safety.

Did he not know that God could take care of Sarah? We know it, for God took care of two million people as they journeyed through a wilderness infested with all kinds of pests and diseases.

II. FAITH TRUSTING (Genesis 13:8-10 )

1. The conflict. In Genesis 13:7 of chapter 13, we learn that there was a strife which came up between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham. Even among saints, such conflicts are liable to arise.

2. A magnanimous spirit. When Abraham saw that it would be necessary to sever himself and his cattle from Lot and his cattle, Abraham said, "Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left."

When we are walking with God, we do not need to worry about even the things which are our own.

3. Lot's choice. When Lot was given the opportunity of his choice, we read that he "Beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where." So Lot chose the way that led down to Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. God's word to Abraham. After Lot was gone, the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said unto him, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever."

God will always care for the one who is open-hearted and open-handed toward his fellow man. God will always provide the needs of the man who will trust Him, in faith. So it was that Abraham removed his tent, and dwelt in the plain of Mamre. The very word "Mamre" means "fatness." Is that where we are dwelling? Let us be very careful to get into the place where God can bless us.

III. FAITH INQUIRING (Genesis 15:1-2 )

1. God's words of comfort. Genesis 15:1 of chapter 15 opens with the statement, "After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram." Does the word of the Lord come to you? The word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. Does God come to you in visions upon your bed, in your dreams, in His Word, in His providences, in the hour when you seek His face in prayer? To Abraham God said, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." We have come into a blessed place, in faith, when we learn that it is God, and not us, that gives the victory.

2. Abraham's inquiry. "And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless?" Abraham was reminding God that His promise depended absolutely and entirely upon his having a seed; yet, he was childless. The months were fast slipping by; the years were multiplying; and Abraham said, "Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed," How often does God seem to hold back the fulfillment of His promise for the while i We must remember, however, that a promise deferred, is not a promise broken.

3. Where faith caught a vision. During the time of Abraham's inquiry the Lord brought him forth abroad, and said, "Look now toward Heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be." This time we read in Genesis 15:6 , "And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness."

Then the Lord said unto Abraham, "I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." Thank God for the Abraham; thank God that he had a faith which could accept the promise!

We wonder how many of us have such a faith?

IV. FAITH WORSHIPING (Genesis 17:1-3 )

1. The glorious fellowship. Abraham had now become 90 years of age. His wife was about 80. The years were fast flying, and the seed had not yet been born. It was at this time that the Lord appeared to Abraham, and said, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect."

Can a man be perfect before God perfect in his faith, and in his life? Certainly, he can; for God would not ask of us that which we, empowered by the Holy Ghost, cannot do.

2. An overwhelming promise. "I will make My Covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." How wonderful for God to make a tryst, a Covenant between Himself and men. This is just like our Lord. We sing, "Blest be the tie that binds"; and we think of saints bound together; but here is a tie more precious, a life bound to God. I "will multiply thee exceedingly." Has not God also said to us that He will bless us with all spiritual blessings? Has He not even said that He will do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us?

3. The worshiping servant. Genesis 17:3 says, "And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him." The accomplishments of faith never make one proud or self-centered. The closer God draws to us; the larger His promise of blessing, the more do we feel like falling down upon our faces in hallowed adoration and worship.

V. FAITH SEEING THINGS DESTINED TO COME TO PASS (Genesis 18:17-18 )

1. The visit of three men from Heaven. The Lord and two angels came to Abraham, as he stood in his tent door in the heat of the day. The man of faith, who walked with God, arose immediately, and ran to meet them from the tent door, bowing himself toward the ground. He welcomed his Heavenly Visitors, hastened to wash their feet, and bade them sit under a tree while he brought them a morsel of bread.

It was a wonderful visitation. We read that Abraham said to Sarah, "Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth." Meanwhile, Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good. He gave it unto a young man, who hasted to dress it. Then Abraham took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed and set it before them.

Would you not love to do as much for your Lord? If He came to your house, would you not give Him the very best? Certainly you would. Then why not do it now?

2. A revelation. As they sat together, the Lord said unto Abraham, "Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Sarah heard it in the tent door, and she laughed. She laughed because she was old, and Abraham was older. The angel quickly reproved Sarah by saying, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" However, Sarah believed God, In the Book of Hebrews we read, "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed." Her faith gave her the strength.

3. The second revelation. As they were together that day, the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."

Here is something very remarkable. God is going to tell Abraham what He is about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reason for the Divine confidence is because He knew of Abraham's future, and because He knew also of his family fidelity. If we expect God to show us things, we must live worthy of His Name.

4. Faith praying. Genesis 18:23 tells us that Abraham drew near to pray concerning the destruction of Sodom, for he knew that his nephew, Lot, and Lot's family were in Sodom.

Abraham's faith was not wavering so far as God was concerned, but his faith in his nephew's faithfulness wavered. "God remembered Abraham" and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow. The man of faith proved to be a man of prayer.

VI. FAITH'S GREATEST TEST AND TRIUMPH (Genesis 22:2 ; Genesis 22:5 ; Genesis 22:12 )

1. God's call to Abraham to sacrifice his son. In answer to faith Isaac had now been born; he was the well-beloved of his father. God, however, said unto Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest * * and offer him there for a burnt offering."

Here is perhaps the greatest mark of Abraham's faith. He had waited long for Isaac to be born, and when he came, Abraham knew that God's promise was in course of fulfillment; for the promise had been, "Unto thee, and to thy seed." In Isaac, Abraham saw centered, everything God had ever promised him. Everything therefore was in the balance. Even the birth of Christ, according to the flesh, was in the balance.

2. A faithful obedience. We read in the Book of Acts of the obedience of faith. Here is an example of it that is unparalleled. "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son."

3. Where faith triumphed even over death. As the two of them walked on together; Isaac, with the wood upon his shoulders; Abraham with the fire and the knife in his hand; Isaac said unto his father, "My father": and he said, "Here am I, my son." "And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb."

When they came to the place, Isaac was bound and laid upon the wood, and Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Did Abraham expect to slay him?

Abraham meant simply this (it is expressed in the Book of Hebrews): "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

As Abraham heard the Voice commanding him to stay his hand, and he saw the ram caught in the thicket ready to be sacrificed instead of his son, Abraham saw the day of Christ and was glad.

VII. FAITH'S FINAL PROVIDENCE (Genesis 24:3-4 )

1. Abraham's command to his servant. Abraham was old, well stricken in years, and he knew that he must soon be going the way of all men. His heart dwelt upon his son Isaac. If Christ was to be born of the seed of Abraham, Isaac must have a wife. Therefore, Abraham told his servant that ruled over all he had, "Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven." What was the oath that Abraham demanded of his servant? Here it is, "Thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."

2. Abraham's faith in the successful issue of his command. Immediately Abraham's servant said unto him, "Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land." Abraham replied with words which breathed the spirit of his faith: "The Lord God of Heaven, which took me from my father's, house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence." Abraham knew that God would not fail him in this.

3. What came to pass. When the servant of Abraham arrived in the far country, he had not finished praying, when, lifting up his eyes, he saw Rebekah coming, and the damsel, having filled her water pitcher, gave him to drink, and then drew water and filled the troughs for the camels.

The next morning Abraham's servant said, "Send me away unto my master," and the. mother of Rebekah said, "Wilt thou go with this man?" and she said, "I will go." As they left that day, Rebekah's brother and mother called out after her daughter, "Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." It was not long until the happy marriage was consummated in the tent of Sarah. God had vindicated the faith of the man who was His friend. As we close, we call upon every young man and young woman who reads these words to join Abraham in the life of faith. When you pray, "believe that ye receive them (the things that you ask for), and ye shall have them." Let faith do her perfect work.

AN ILLUSTRATION

I want to remind you of one picture. In Job 38:35 we read that the Lord said to Job, "Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?" No, Job could not do it But God can. He sends the lightnings on their mission, and they go to Him, and say, Here we are! But, as I read these words * * I was overwhelmed as I thought of the contrast between the lightnings, which instantly obey God's voice, and so many Christians, laggards who should be running, shirkers giving way to self-indulgence, men and women who put their hands to the plow and turn back, some who say "I go, sir," and go not! What might it mean if 3,000 people here this evening heard God's bidding and said, like the lightnings, "Here we are!"

You will have read how twice since September Mussolini has ordered a test mobilization of the whole Italian people. At his word they stood ready as a nation to follow their leader, and do his bidding. They said "Here we are." Is Christ the Son of God, who bought us with His own Blood, to find His followers less responsive, less unreservedly at His disposal? * * * May there be a collective response from Christ's warriors, "Here we are"? F. H.


Verses 5-10

Abram, the Tent Dweller

Genesis 12:5-10

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

The outstanding characteristic in Abram was his pilgrim nature. Perhaps it would be better to say, "nature by grace," inasmuch as Abram became a pilgrim through faith.

1. "Abram * * departed out of Haran" (Genesis 12:4 ).

2. "Abram * * went forth to go into the land of Canaan" (Genesis 12:5 ).

3. "Abram passed through the land" (Genesis 12:6 ).

4. "Abram * * removed from thence" (Genesis 12:8 ).

5. "Abram journeyed, going * * south" (Genesis 12:9 ).

6. "Abram went down into Egypt" (Genesis 12:10 ),

7. "Abram went up out of Egypt" (Genesis 13:1 ).

8. "Abram removed his tent" (Genesis 13:18 ).

These Scriptures will be enlarged upon later. We want to note merely one fact Abram was a tent dweller. He was a pilgrim. He knew no abiding city.

The result of all this was that Abram lived looking for a "city * * whose Builder and Maker is God." He was in the world, but was not of it. He set his affection on the things above. He laid tip for himself treasures in Heaven.

While Abram dwelt upon this earth, many more years than any of us may ever hope to dwell, yet, he always felt himself a stranger.

We came across from Los Angeles to Chicago recently. En route we learned the story of a wonderful river which gladdens the desert. The name of the river is The Humbolt. It was described to us as the longest short river in the world. From its source to its mouth it is, by airline, three hundred miles long, and yet, it measures in its curving trails eleven hundred miles. Its valleys pasture the largest cattle ranches in the world. One ranch alone covers one hundred and seventy thousand acres of land and pastures eight thousand head of cattle. The river runs its way carrying blessings wherever it goes, and then at its mouth it simply sinks out of sight, and is lost to human knowledge.

As we got the details of this river, we wondered if our lives should not be patterned after it. The span of our life may not be many years, and yet, we may migrate here and there, covering many lands and many peoples. We run, as this river runs, through arid lands in need of the Water of Life. If our lives are what they ought to be, thousands may be refreshed by us. When at last our testimony is completed we should gladly sink out of sight, and pass on into the City whose Builder and Maker is God.

Abram's life was indeed a most beautiful fulfilment of this type. He moved among men as a tent dweller with no continuing city, and yet, everywhere he went he left untold blessings behind him. His life passed on out of the sight of men, and yet, until this day the memory of his words and deeds come down to us to bless us. Thank God for such a life!

I. ABRAM TOOK OTHERS WITH HIM (Genesis 12:5 )

Abram did not go alone when he departed out of Haran. Neither do any of us go alone. Whether our way be right or wrong, there are always others who are carried along with us.

1. Abram took his wife and his nephew with him. If we are going forth to live for God, should we not carry those of our own household with us? Has not God said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house"? Happy is the man who can carry with him into his life of pilgrimage his wife and others of his family. Sad indeed is the lot of that man, or of that woman, who fails in this. Has not God said, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark"?

2. Abram took all the substance that they had gathered together with him. Let us also carry our substance with us in our consecration to Christ. Let us refuse to leave behind our houses and our lands, our stocks and our bonds, and our other possessions. If we are the Lord's, then all that we have is also His.

Our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills; the silver and the gold are His, and yet He has given them all unto us, that we, in turn, may bring them back again to Him, for His Word, and work, and will.

II. ABRAM WENT FORTH TO GO (Genesis 12:5 , l.c.)

1. Going into Canaan necessitated going out of Haran. The irrevocable law is that nothing material can be in two places at one time. If we would go in, we must first come out.

This fact carries a great lesson in consecration. Often some young Christian thinks that he or she can come to Christ and lay all on the altar of sacrifice without first having separated themselves from the world. Such a dedication God will not, and cannot accept. Only clean and separated lives are prepared for consecration.

2. Having come out of the old (out of Haran), it was necessary to have a full purpose to enter in. To be merely a separated Christian is not enough. A vessel that is thoroughly cleansed is of no benefit to any one, if it is forever left on the shelf. To be passively good is not enough. To come out of the world is not enough. To leave everything is not enough.

3. Having come out, they entered in. The closing phrase of Genesis 12:5 , reads, "And into the land of Canaan they came." This is what we call the realization of an objective. It is a high aim, attained; a goal, reached. Too many start out well. They promise much, their intentions are good, however, they fall by the way. They are saved, they leave Egypt by the blood, yet they wander about in the wilderness all of their lives, and finally die in the wilderness without ever entering into the land of Canaan.

Christ told the parable of the sower, and how some seed immediately sprang up, but soon withered away, because it had no depth of soil. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you?" Let us go through with God.

III. AND ABRAM PASSED THROUGH (Genesis 12:6 )

1. The journey from Haran to Canaan was not strewn with roses. It is not an easy thing to go all the way with God. The real follower of Christ will find many to antagonize his consecration and full surrender.

The story is told of the building of the Brooklyn bridge. When the great screw was turning, grinding out the way down to solid rock, upon which the pillars that swung the bridge were to rest, the assistant called the chief engineer to find out if they had struck bedrock. The chief merely looked down into the great hole, watched the screw working, and cried, "No, you are not to bedrock." Later, when the chief looked in he gave quick orders to stop the engine. The assistant asked, "How did you know that we had struck bedrock?" He replied, "The screw was shooting fire," Whenever we get to bedrock in our Christian experience, it always shoots fire.

2. There are many things which we must pass through. We must pass through the love of self-ease. We must pass through the land of self-pride, where the plaudits of the people are our chief asset. We must pass through the valley of disappointment, and the vale of disrupting and disheartening Influences.

When Stephen went through with God he closed his eyes to the madness of the mob, and kept them open toward the "glories of the Risen Christ.

When Paul went through with God he cried, "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me."

When Christ faced the Cross, "Having loved His own * * He loved them unto the end." Let us gladly pass through anything and everything so that we may win Christ and be found in Him.

IV. ABRAM REMOVED PROM THENCE (Genesis 12:8 )

1. There is always a danger of the Christian becoming satisfied with present attainment. Abram encamped at different places, as he passed through, en route to Canaan. Genesis 12:7 tells us that at one of these camps the Lord appeared unto Abram, saying, "Unto thy seed will I give this land." At that time Abram builded an altar unto the Lord. However, he did not stay there. The very next sentence reads, "He removed from thence."

The three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration wanted to build three tabernacles, one for Moses, one for Elias, and one for Christ. It seems as though their idea was to conserve the marvelous vision of the Transfiguration. They, doubtless, would have been delighted to tent forever under the spell of that glorious hour. However, at the foot of the mountain there was work to be done. A son was there who needed the touch of the Divine Christ.

We, too, have had experiences which were precious to us, and we are in danger of wanting to abide in the memory of those delightful hours. This cannot be. God wants us to go on.

2. There is always something better farther on. The Apostle Paul reached, as we see it, a position in Christ far beyond the highest dreams of most saints. Was Paul satisfied? Did Paul want to pitch his tent, and dwell in the joy of his attainments? Not he.

Paul said, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." He also said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

There never comes a time in the Christian life that we reach the summit of our possibilities. We never enter into all of our possessions. It is always better higher up. The pastures are always greener farther on. There is still much land to be possessed.

V. ABRAM JOURNEYED, GOING ON STILL (Genesis 12:8-9 )

This links us on to what we have just been saying.

1. In seeking God's best we must show all perseverance. There is a remarkable verse which says, "We shall reap, if we faint not." There is another verse, which we delight to link with this one, "Faint, yet pursuing."

Gideon and his group, wearied and worn with the strain of battle, were going on still. They had not yet fulfilled their mission; therefore, although tired and faint, they still pursued.

When Joash, king of Israel, came unto Elisha, Elisha commanded him to take bows and arrows. Then he said, "Open the window eastward. And * * shoot." As Joash shot, Elisha said, "The arrow of deliverance from Syria." Then he commanded Joash to smite upon the ground and he smote thrice. Then Elisha said, "Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice." Plow many of us stay our hand before we have completed our task!

2. In seeking God's best we must journey on still. The little song says, "Never give up." There are some saints who, as they grow older, relax from their ardor of service. One man told me that he had made his fortune, and that he was going to spend the rest of his life traveling and having a good time. Why should he not have gone on still?

When you study the 11th of Hebrews, you will find that that galaxy of sons and daughters died in the faith. They never ceased in their warfare until they had won their crowns.

VI. ABRAM WENT DOWN INTO EGYPT TO SOJOURN (Genesis 12:10 )

Turning aside has its dangers. Our verse tells us that there was a famine in the land. It was because of that famine that Abram went down into Egypt. He did not go down there to dwell, but to sojourn. We are not sure that he did wrong, but we are sure that this side trip caused Abram trouble.

It was in Egypt that Abram had trouble with Pharaoh because of his wife. Abram went down to sojourn, but Pharaoh sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had. There are several lessons here for us.

1. There was no compatibility between Abram and Pharaoh. Two cannot dwell together except they be agreed. Abram in Egypt was Abram in trouble. He may have had food for his body, but he had plagues for his soul. The Children of Israel, on one occasion, cried unto the Lord for flesh. The Lord gave them the desire of their heart, but sent leanness into their souls. Sometimes physical bounties cause spiritual dearth.

2. We must guard against taking side trips from God. Some believers who are faithful at home, will go into another city or state and live carelessly, and perhaps, grievously. They make short sojourns now and then into the enemy's country. While there, they do as the people do; they go where the people go; they throw off the constraint of the narrow way, to enjoy the diversions of the broad way. Such a course, is always fraught with danger and leads to disaster.

The true believer has neither time nor heart for sojourning in the world. If he does go down, he will not only hurt himself but he will bring the plagues of God upon everybody else because of the evil of his way. Let us never turn to the right hand nor to the left, but, keeping our eyes on the goal, press bravely toward the Heavenly Kingdom.

VII. ABRAM WENT UP OUT OF EGYPT (Genesis 13:1 )

1. We are happy that Abram did not stay in the far country. He fell in the mire, but God lifted him out. He wandered for a moment, but he quickly returned to the right path.

When we think of Abram, we think of various times when he wandered away from God, but these wanderings were no more than eddies in the general stream of his life. We should not judge this mighty man by the acts of unbelief which now and then beset him. We should judge him by the great trend of his life. When God gave the final recount of Abram, He did not say, "By unbelief Abraham did this or that." He did say, "By faith Abraham."

Abram did go down into Egypt, but, thank God, he went up out of Egypt. The little babe did fall down, but it got up again, and for many years walked on both feet.

2. We are happy that there is restoration for all who stumble by the way. The potter saw his vessel marred, so he made it again. God saw Abram wandering, but He brought him back. God did not cast away the man who, under the exigency of the famine, went down for a sojourn; into Egypt. God did allow Abram to get into trouble in Egypt, so that Pharaoh cast him out. Have you not read, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"?

The goodness of God in the restoration of those who wander from His path should never be used as an excuse to backslide. Remember, Abram was restored and brought out of Egypt, but he was not brought out until first he experienced great travail of soul concerning his wife. God will bring us out, but He will bring us out through bitterness of spirit. It never pays to wander.

AN ILLUSTRATION

SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

"' If because you are Christians you promise yourselves a long lease of temporal happiness, free from troubles and afflictions, it is as if a soldier going to the wars should promise himself peace and continual truce with the enemy; or as if a mariner committing himself to the sea for a long voyage, should promise himself nothing but fair and calm weather, without waves and storms; so irrational is it for a Christian to promise himself rest here upon earth,' Experience abundantly confirms this, and yet who would not be a soldier of the Cross? And, being so, who would wish to be a featherbed soldier, never flushing one's sword, or smelling powder. If there be no war there can be no victory; ease is therefore our loss and hindrance. What we need is not freedom from conflict, but abundance of faith. Trials would little try us if we had more confidence in God, and afflictions would have small power to afflict us if we laid up our heart's Joy and confidence in the Lord alone. Nearness to God is the one desideratum.

O Lord, draw us very near Thee, and then we shall dwell in peace though the whole world should battle with us." C. H. S.


Verses 7-9

Faith as Exemplified in Abraham

Genesis 12:1-4 , Genesis 12:7-9 ; Genesis 13:14-18

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. Does God still speak to men as He spoke to Abraham? Our Scripture opens with the statement, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram * *." If the Lord said something to Abraham, may He not also say something to us? Does the Lord still guide men into His perfect will?

The Lord said unto Abraham, "Get thee * * unto a land that I will shew thee." The Lord, therefore, undertook to guide Abraham along the way; does He guide us? What we want to know is whether it is possible for a man in the 20th century A. D. to have a contact, personal and direct, with God, such as Abraham had centuries before Christ? Has God changed in His methods?

There is one thing we know; God's direct method of dealing with men is seen from the first verse of the Bible to the last verse of the Bible. We believe that He is now doing the same thing.

Are the ones reading these words guided of God?

2. Does God still make promises to men? God said unto Abraham, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing."

Are the days past and gone when we can count on God's direct promises to us? We know that the Lord told the disciples, "I am with you"; and we know that He said that He would be with us to the end of the world. Is He, therefore, with us personally and individually?

If you feel that you are left out, is it because God left you out, or is it because you yourself have never yielded to Him? because you have never shown any willingness to follow when He spoke?

3. Did the promise God made to Abraham fail? God said:

(1) That He would show Abraham a land; and He did. He showed him the land of Canaan, and told him that He would give that land unto him, and unto his seed.

(2) He told Abraham that He would make of him a great nation. He has done this. What people is there like unto the people of Israel? This is a nation from the loins of Abraham.

(3) He told Abraham that He would make his name great. Is Abraham's name great? Even the rebellious rulers of Israel said, "We have Abraham to our father."

(4) God said, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." We believe that this is true to this day. God pity the individuals, or the nations, which set themselves against the Children of Israel, Abraham's seed; God's curse will rest upon them; the years have proved this. On the other hand, those who bless Abraham's seed are blessed.

4. Did Abraham prove himself a man of faith? Genesis 12:4 begins, "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." In the Book of Hebrews it says that he went out not knowing whither he went. How many saints are there, today, who would pack up their goods, take their families, and start anywhere without knowing where they were going? Abraham did this. Genesis 12:4 tells us, "Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." Genesis 12:5 says, "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan." Genesis 12:6 says "Abram passed through the land." Genesis 12:8 , "He removed from thence unto a mountain on the east." Genesis 12:9 , "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south." Genesis 12:10 says, "Abram went down into Egypt."

I. FAITH WAVERING (Genesis 12:9-12 )

As Abraham moved along his way, he found difficulties. Tests always follow the walk of faith.

1. The promise restated. The 7th verse of Genesis 12:1-20 says, "And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land." He delights in holding before us what He has in view. It is this that we need to keep before our eyes.

David said, "I have set the Lord always before me." Of Moses it is written that he saw the invisible. True men of God look far beyond the present, into the future.

2. The famine. Genesis 12:10 tells us that there was a famine in the land. It did not seem at all as Abraham, perhaps, had imagined. When the famine came Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there. Abraham seemed to forget that wherever God sends us, He can keep us. God proved, in later years, that He could feed obedient servants with manna for bread; and with quails for meat. He proved that He could take water out of a flinty rock, where there was no water. Abraham, however, had not known this, and he went down to Egypt.

3. Sarah was taken. When they arrived in Egypt Abraham said unto his wife, "I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 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." Whenever we get down into Egypt, our faith wavers. God had said, "Unto thee, and to thy seed," and Sarah was a party to the promise; yet, Abraham was afraid for Sarah's safety.

Did he not know that God could take care of Sarah? We know it, for God took care of two million people as they journeyed through a wilderness infested with all kinds of pests and diseases.

II. FAITH TRUSTING (Genesis 13:8-10 )

1. The conflict. In Genesis 13:7 of chapter 13, we learn that there was a strife which came up between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham. Even among saints, such conflicts are liable to arise.

2. A magnanimous spirit. When Abraham saw that it would be necessary to sever himself and his cattle from Lot and his cattle, Abraham said, "Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left."

When we are walking with God, we do not need to worry about even the things which are our own.

3. Lot's choice. When Lot was given the opportunity of his choice, we read that he "Beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where." So Lot chose the way that led down to Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. God's word to Abraham. After Lot was gone, the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said unto him, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever."

God will always care for the one who is open-hearted and open-handed toward his fellow man. God will always provide the needs of the man who will trust Him, in faith. So it was that Abraham removed his tent, and dwelt in the plain of Mamre. The very word "Mamre" means "fatness." Is that where we are dwelling? Let us be very careful to get into the place where God can bless us.

III. FAITH INQUIRING (Genesis 15:1-2 )

1. God's words of comfort. Genesis 15:1 of chapter 15 opens with the statement, "After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram." Does the word of the Lord come to you? The word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. Does God come to you in visions upon your bed, in your dreams, in His Word, in His providences, in the hour when you seek His face in prayer? To Abraham God said, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." We have come into a blessed place, in faith, when we learn that it is God, and not us, that gives the victory.

2. Abraham's inquiry. "And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless?" Abraham was reminding God that His promise depended absolutely and entirely upon his having a seed; yet, he was childless. The months were fast slipping by; the years were multiplying; and Abraham said, "Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed," How often does God seem to hold back the fulfillment of His promise for the while i We must remember, however, that a promise deferred, is not a promise broken.

3. Where faith caught a vision. During the time of Abraham's inquiry the Lord brought him forth abroad, and said, "Look now toward Heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be." This time we read in Genesis 15:6 , "And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness."

Then the Lord said unto Abraham, "I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." Thank God for the Abraham; thank God that he had a faith which could accept the promise!

We wonder how many of us have such a faith?

IV. FAITH WORSHIPING (Genesis 17:1-3 )

1. The glorious fellowship. Abraham had now become 90 years of age. His wife was about 80. The years were fast flying, and the seed had not yet been born. It was at this time that the Lord appeared to Abraham, and said, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect."

Can a man be perfect before God perfect in his faith, and in his life? Certainly, he can; for God would not ask of us that which we, empowered by the Holy Ghost, cannot do.

2. An overwhelming promise. "I will make My Covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." How wonderful for God to make a tryst, a Covenant between Himself and men. This is just like our Lord. We sing, "Blest be the tie that binds"; and we think of saints bound together; but here is a tie more precious, a life bound to God. I "will multiply thee exceedingly." Has not God also said to us that He will bless us with all spiritual blessings? Has He not even said that He will do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us?

3. The worshiping servant. Genesis 17:3 says, "And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him." The accomplishments of faith never make one proud or self-centered. The closer God draws to us; the larger His promise of blessing, the more do we feel like falling down upon our faces in hallowed adoration and worship.

V. FAITH SEEING THINGS DESTINED TO COME TO PASS (Genesis 18:17-18 )

1. The visit of three men from Heaven. The Lord and two angels came to Abraham, as he stood in his tent door in the heat of the day. The man of faith, who walked with God, arose immediately, and ran to meet them from the tent door, bowing himself toward the ground. He welcomed his Heavenly Visitors, hastened to wash their feet, and bade them sit under a tree while he brought them a morsel of bread.

It was a wonderful visitation. We read that Abraham said to Sarah, "Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth." Meanwhile, Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good. He gave it unto a young man, who hasted to dress it. Then Abraham took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed and set it before them.

Would you not love to do as much for your Lord? If He came to your house, would you not give Him the very best? Certainly you would. Then why not do it now?

2. A revelation. As they sat together, the Lord said unto Abraham, "Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Sarah heard it in the tent door, and she laughed. She laughed because she was old, and Abraham was older. The angel quickly reproved Sarah by saying, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" However, Sarah believed God, In the Book of Hebrews we read, "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed." Her faith gave her the strength.

3. The second revelation. As they were together that day, the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."

Here is something very remarkable. God is going to tell Abraham what He is about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reason for the Divine confidence is because He knew of Abraham's future, and because He knew also of his family fidelity. If we expect God to show us things, we must live worthy of His Name.

4. Faith praying. Genesis 18:23 tells us that Abraham drew near to pray concerning the destruction of Sodom, for he knew that his nephew, Lot, and Lot's family were in Sodom.

Abraham's faith was not wavering so far as God was concerned, but his faith in his nephew's faithfulness wavered. "God remembered Abraham" and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow. The man of faith proved to be a man of prayer.

VI. FAITH'S GREATEST TEST AND TRIUMPH (Genesis 22:2 ; Genesis 22:5 ; Genesis 22:12 )

1. God's call to Abraham to sacrifice his son. In answer to faith Isaac had now been born; he was the well-beloved of his father. God, however, said unto Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest * * and offer him there for a burnt offering."

Here is perhaps the greatest mark of Abraham's faith. He had waited long for Isaac to be born, and when he came, Abraham knew that God's promise was in course of fulfillment; for the promise had been, "Unto thee, and to thy seed." In Isaac, Abraham saw centered, everything God had ever promised him. Everything therefore was in the balance. Even the birth of Christ, according to the flesh, was in the balance.

2. A faithful obedience. We read in the Book of Acts of the obedience of faith. Here is an example of it that is unparalleled. "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son."

3. Where faith triumphed even over death. As the two of them walked on together; Isaac, with the wood upon his shoulders; Abraham with the fire and the knife in his hand; Isaac said unto his father, "My father": and he said, "Here am I, my son." "And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb."

When they came to the place, Isaac was bound and laid upon the wood, and Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Did Abraham expect to slay him?

Abraham meant simply this (it is expressed in the Book of Hebrews): "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."

As Abraham heard the Voice commanding him to stay his hand, and he saw the ram caught in the thicket ready to be sacrificed instead of his son, Abraham saw the day of Christ and was glad.

VII. FAITH'S FINAL PROVIDENCE (Genesis 24:3-4 )

1. Abraham's command to his servant. Abraham was old, well stricken in years, and he knew that he must soon be going the way of all men. His heart dwelt upon his son Isaac. If Christ was to be born of the seed of Abraham, Isaac must have a wife. Therefore, Abraham told his servant that ruled over all he had, "Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven." What was the oath that Abraham demanded of his servant? Here it is, "Thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."

2. Abraham's faith in the successful issue of his command. Immediately Abraham's servant said unto him, "Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land." Abraham replied with words which breathed the spirit of his faith: "The Lord God of Heaven, which took me from my father's, house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence." Abraham knew that God would not fail him in this.

3. What came to pass. When the servant of Abraham arrived in the far country, he had not finished praying, when, lifting up his eyes, he saw Rebekah coming, and the damsel, having filled her water pitcher, gave him to drink, and then drew water and filled the troughs for the camels.

The next morning Abraham's servant said, "Send me away unto my master," and the. mother of Rebekah said, "Wilt thou go with this man?" and she said, "I will go." As they left that day, Rebekah's brother and mother called out after her daughter, "Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." It was not long until the happy marriage was consummated in the tent of Sarah. God had vindicated the faith of the man who was His friend. As we close, we call upon every young man and young woman who reads these words to join Abraham in the life of faith. When you pray, "believe that ye receive them (the things that you ask for), and ye shall have them." Let faith do her perfect work.

AN ILLUSTRATION

I want to remind you of one picture. In Job 38:35 we read that the Lord said to Job, "Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?" No, Job could not do it But God can. He sends the lightnings on their mission, and they go to Him, and say, Here we are! But, as I read these words * * I was overwhelmed as I thought of the contrast between the lightnings, which instantly obey God's voice, and so many Christians, laggards who should be running, shirkers giving way to self-indulgence, men and women who put their hands to the plow and turn back, some who say "I go, sir," and go not! What might it mean if 3,000 people here this evening heard God's bidding and said, like the lightnings, "Here we are!"

You will have read how twice since September Mussolini has ordered a test mobilization of the whole Italian people. At his word they stood ready as a nation to follow their leader, and do his bidding. They said "Here we are." Is Christ the Son of God, who bought us with His own Blood, to find His followers less responsive, less unreservedly at His disposal? * * * May there be a collective response from Christ's warriors, "Here we are"? F. H.

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 12:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/genesis-12.html.

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