Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 12:2-3, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 23:4, Psalm 46:1-3, Luke 8:50, John 14:27, Romans 8:31, and Hebrews 13:5-6.
When you see how the Jews during Jesus’ day felt about Abraham, you’d think Abraham had been able to walk on water. But when you read the actual stories about Abraham in Genesis—whew!— that old dude had some serious issues with fear.
The Book of Genesis records a conversation between the Almighty and Abram (who later was renamed Abraham). “They actually spoke out loud to each other?” you might ask. Not sure exactly how that played out. Could have been an audible voice. Might have been in a dream. But God’s communication was clear: He had big plans for Abraham’s future. First, the Lord instructed Abraham to get out of town and head to a place where He would lead him. God made made him this promise: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great . . . and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2, 3).
Although Abraham was seventy-five years old and was probably enjoying the perks of retirement, he stepped out in faith, packed his bags, and headed out. Good move on his part. God showed up a second time and actually pointed out to Abraham a piece of real estate that would become his home. God said, “To your descendants I will give this land” (verse 7). Now, it seems to me that if the Creator of the universe makes you a promise—twice— you’re going to be pretty confident that nothing or nobody on this old dust ball is going to be able to derail those plans, right? Abraham missed it.
As the story unfolds, Abraham and his bunch headed to Egypt because he’d run up on hard times when a famine struck. Of course, once he got to Egypt, he had new problem. His wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) was so beautiful, Abraham feared that one of the Egyptian princes would steal her away—and then kill him. So Abraham told Sarah, “Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you” (verse 13). Real brave of you, Abraham. In spite of the Almighty’s promise to make you into a great nation and give you some prime real estate—which would be pretty difficult to do if you were dead—you decided to throw your wife under the bus.
Sure enough, Sarah’s beauty turned more than a few heads. She was taken to live in Pharaoh’s house while Abraham was given great wealth in the form of livestock (verses 14–16). This was not what God had in mind for Abraham. God was so displeased with Abraham’s lack of faith that He “plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues” (verse 17). When the Egyptians figured out what was up, Abraham and Sarah were quickly booted out of town. Lesson learned, right? Nope. Abraham’s fear ran deep. When they traveled to another country they pulled the same stunt again (Genesis 20).
I don’t want to be too hard on Abraham. He was flawed—and so are we. When we get in a jam, we sometimes forget that the Almighty has never forsaken those who put their trust in Him (Psalm 9:10). You say, “But Phil, I’ve had some dark, fearful days walking on this earth.” Yup. That’s why Jesus came. You can hang your hat on the fact that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
By Phil Robertson