How’d I get in this mess?
12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
12:15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
12:16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
In looking at these verses I want us to notice that Abram finds himself in a situation which is not al all foreign to most of us at some time or other. Picture if you will; Abram, standing with eyes wide, mouth gaping, hands held out and his face wearing an expression which is asking, “How did I wind up in this mess?”
Does that sound familiar? It ought to for most of us. We, like Abram wind up at times wondering how in the world we get into the messes we get into. Very often we fail to realize that it is usually our own doing. Every step that we take, and every act that we commit ourselves too is going to lead to another, then another, and yet another until there is going to be a result that may be ultimately confusing to us as to how it wound up that way. We sometimes find ourselves asking the question, “Why?”
How did Abram get to this place? How did he wind up in the position that he was afraid would happen to begin with? He was already worried that they may take his wife from him and sure enough it happened just like he had thought that it would. Let’s look at some things in the life of Abram up till this point and see if we can learn something as to the reason he may have wound up here.
First of all, notice that there was a pattern of incomplete obedience in his relationship with God. In noticing the first verse of chapter 12 you will see that God’s call to Abram was already a past-tense occurrence by the time we read 12:1. In looking at this accurately, we must understand that God’s call to Abram had come to him in Ur of the Chaldees, This took place sometime before verse 31 of chapter 11. And we notice that Abram did not do all that God had commanded. He was told to leave home and family. That is not what took place. And the blessing was contingent upon complete obedience on the part of Abram. And we see this to be a pattern because after the death of Abram’s father, when he finally went into Canaan, in 12:4,5…
12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
…he took Lot with him. Contrary to what God had directed him to do.
In looking at this it is good to note that Abram is like the rest of us. We all know that some ties are hard to break. Some things are hard to let go. Yes, sometimes it is painful for a time when we finally do obey God. But consider the alternative to his disobedience in this matter. It may have been painful to leave the family behind but he wound up burying his father, and, very soon, being betrayed by his nephew. Not to mention the situation that he finds himself in now, helplessly watching as his wife is taken from him. Consider the heartache that could be avoided if we would just follow God in our lives: The pain that we could avoid, the heartaches that we may not have to endure.
We all fail to realize that God can see what is ahead of us and He only leads us the way He does for our own good. Far better for us if we could reach that point that we could simply follow without question, the directives that are written for us in the Word of God.
We see also in Abram that he still had an unsettled, or an un-surrendered will. He was not totally sold out to the Will of God above his own and it was a distraction to him. We are often distracted, sidetracked, and headed in the wrong direction. Notice his stance. What I mean to point out is the position in which he was standing, in particular. He had Bethel on the West, and Hai on the East. This tells us, of course, that he was facing South. That is where Egypt was at. Egypt is picture of the world in comparison to the life of a Christian. We are called out of the world. Abram was looking in the wrong direction. His mind was still on the things of the world. He was distracted by his unsurrendered will. And because of this he was easily swayed by the circumstances of the famine in the land to continue on in his journey toward the south, and into Egypt.
Bethel -West East – Hai
We sometimes walk this way in our daily lives; still focused on the world. When trials come it is often easy for us to go the wrong way because we were already looking that way to begin with. Much like Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom. His focus was on the cities of the plain, and he was easily drawn to them when strife arose between his herdmen and the herdmen of His uncle Abram. We may be focused on a better job, one with much better pay and a better benefit package, yet it will take us away from church and God. With this thought in mind, look again at the stance of Abram. Bethel on the West, and Hai on the East: Bethel means “The house of God, and Hai means “A heap of ruin.” Abram, focused on the world, was caught between God and ruin. We are often in the balance and in danger of going the wrong way because we are focused on the wrong things. Anything that will take you farther from God is obviously not from God or of God. In swimming, one rule of thumb is that your body follows where your head is pointing. Be careful where you keep looing, you will eventually wind up going that way. Remember David, he looked and then his body followed where his eyes led.
Men are often hard on bible characters because they believe they could have done much better had they been there in that person’s place. It is easy to say that when we can read the outcome of their bad decisions. If our actions were written down, our descendants may say of us in the next 500 years, “I would not have done that if that had been me.” Keep in mind that Abram is still young in the faith. He has a great deal of growing to do, and the greatest teacher is experience. We learn more from our mistakes that most any other means in this world. And keep in mind, this is that same Abram who will soon take his handful against the armies of four kings to recover his nephew, Lot. (In chapter 14) Abram had faith enough to go against the victors who had just defeated five kings.
His incomplete obedience coupled with an un-surrendered will resulted in immature faith at the time. All of these are evidenced in our actions at times. You are surely familiar with the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Notice now, verses 10-13…
12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12:12 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.
12:13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
Immature faith will result in irrational behavior. Look at the assumption on the part of Abraham concerning the men of Egypt. His recourse was…. “Lie for me.” And after what he had feared had come upon him, here he is, handsomely rewarded and looking dumbfounded, wondering, “How’d I get in this mess?” Like it or not, he got there the same way that we do, he did it to himself.
I am glad, however, that this is one of those situations where we can say, “But God.” Abram had gotten himself into a mess that he could not get out of. He had made some poor choices and was paying the price. But God was mindful of His child in distress, and was already working it all out for him. Praise God for a loving Father who remembers that we are but dust and prone to fail. He takes care of us in spite of ourselves. Just as He did here in Abram’s case.
Now I want you to note where Abram went. He went right back to where he was at the first. Yet and still there was much to be done. He still had to do something about his sin of disobedience. He had been through a great deal, but now, he needed to get rid of that forbidden stumbling block. Still, it took God to work that out too. (13:5-8) Look what a painful experience, yet it could have been avoided if he had obeyed God completely from the start. Obedience is far less painful than the wounds that we suffer due to our own failures.
Next time you begin to wonder, “How did I get into this mess?” remember Abram, how he got there, and what he had to do. He had to go back to where he got away from God at the beginning, he had to repent. If we will realize that most of the time it is all our fault and go back in repentance, God will meet us and greet us with open arms.