Abram was singled out. He was chosen by God from among his family, from among his people, and from among all the sinful idolaters in the land. Not based upon his own doing, but only because of the sovereign will of God, Abram was predestined and targeted for special grace by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Abram was then sent out. He was called to enjoy and glorify God, but he was do to so in another land. He was to leave Ur, leave his family, and take a sacred pilgrimage to a place God would show him. Abram was called to leave that which was most comfortable. For the rest of his days, he was set apart to be a peculiar and obedient worshiper.
Abram was sold out. He heard God’s will, counted the cost, and obeyed. Not knowing what was before him, Abram knew Who was above and around him. He became a model worshiper trusting in the guidance of the sovereign Lord.
Abram was soon stressed out. Though he heard God’s voice, believed God’s promises, and faithfully obeyed, he encountered a season of severe trials, and this would not be the last. As a matter of fact, suffering under the watchful gaze of God would be the norm for this man of faith. Yes, Abram was a friend of God, but as such he was often acquainted with many troubles, trials, tears, and temptations.
Sadly, in the time of trial and temptation, Abram copped out. In his season of need, it does not appear that he prayed. No, he leaned upon his own understanding, did what was wise in his own eyes, and became a double-minded worshiper — unstable in all his ways. Abram compromised and sinned, and in doing so he ended up harming himself, his wife, his unbelieving neighbors, and his Lord’s honor. The account of his temptation is as follows:
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”
When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. (Genesis 12:10-15)
However, despite his folly and duplicity, Abram was helped out. Read and see how God showered grace upon his most unworthy worshiper:
And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had. 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. (Genesis 12:16-13:2)
Yes, I am sure there were some unstated and very sad consequences that came as a result of Abram’s foolish leadership. I can only imagine the state of my marriage if I sought to save my head by allowing my wife to be placed in a lusty man’s bed. Some sort of emotional and marital damage must have been done. One can’t play with fire without being burned, and one can’t dance with the devil without smelling like smoke. I am sure that Abram had some explaining to do, and he may have spent a few nights on the sofa.
However, despite Abram’s folly, sin, and sad consequences, when all was said and done, at least six undeserved blessings were realized:
- Abram and his household were fed.
- Abram was able to keep his head.
- Abram was able to rescue Sarah from Pharaoh’s bed.
- Abram and his bride remained faithfully wed.
- Abram was able to come out financially ahead.
He deserved none of this, but such is the radical affection shown by the Father towards his children throughout scripture and time.
Consequently, how did Abram respond to the unearned blessings of God? The man of God did that which he formerly did. Abram did that which he should have done in the first place when he was stressed out. Abram travelled to Bethel, and there he called out to the Lord.
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 13:3-4)
Yes, Abram went straightway to his special place of communion with God, and there he spent serious time with his Heavenly Father. And it is not stated, but I am absolutely sure his time of prayer included Gospel repentance, Gospel adoration, abundant thanksgiving, and God-focused supplication.
Friends, I like the song, “Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.” However, I am not so sure it is true. As I follow my Savior, there are certainly days of shouting “Hallelujah.” But there are also days of shouting, “My God, why have you forsaken me.”
Yes, he promised us peace.
However, he also promised us our fair share of persecution and peril. Struggling believer, do not be misled by the “Prosperity Fellows.” Sometimes your pain is because of your faithlessness, but sometimes it is a result of your faithfulness. Know this … it is normative for the Christian to endure hardship. Know this … though you be singled out, sent out, and sold out, you will surely have many days when you find yourself stressed out as well.
What will we do then? What will we do of today is the day of trouble, trial, tears, and temptation? Will we again take matters into our own hands? Will we again do that which seems right in our own eyes? Will we neglect communion with God and instead take consult from our faithless neighbors and foolish head? Oh friends, if only Abram had prayed in the midst of his trial, he surely would not have left the land of promise, convinced his wife to shade the truth, preferred his own skin, risked the purity of his bride, and dishonored his Lord before Pharaoh and his court. The Lord would have never encouraged Abram to be so foolish and faithless. Before your moment of weakness, in your moment of weakness, go to your quiet place and converse with your Heavenly Father. Heart-steadying help is available. Head-clearing wisdom is on tap. Seek not your own understanding. Go to the Lord and avoid the sad consequences of compromise.
But what ought we to do today because we failed to pray yesterday? Brothers and sisters, God never changes, and his mercy is still abundant. Though we sin, and though sin still has consequences, God’s radical affection for his elect waivers not. Therefore, wherever you may be in your sin-cycle, now is the time to run back to your loving Father. Now is the time for you to again remember, repent, and recover. Do not listen to the laughing lies of Satan. Nothing can separate you from the Father’s love. He is the Gracious Father looking for you — his Prodigal Son — to return. He longs to see you. He longs to talk with you. He awaits your next conversation with him at your holy place. Will you keep him waiting?
Struggling saint, go to the Lord right now. Confess your sin. Remember Christ and the Gospel. Trust in his full atonement. Smell afresh the robe of righteousness you are wearing. Passionately adore him for his mercy and grace. Give thanks for all the undeserved blessings he has sent your way; you might as well give thanks for the muted consequences he has also allowed you to experience. Then, end your season of prayer by supplicating for greater wisdom and a more faithful walk of worship tomorrow.
Friends, a man privately fails on his knees before he privately fails in his heart and publically falls into sin.
Yesterday, we forgot to call on the Lord. Let’s not make the same mistake today.