Genesis 12:1-9 The Call Of Abram And His Faultering Faith.
Abram is called to leave his country, family, and father’s house. This was more than a change of geography. Abram was also called to leave their gods behind as well, and to commit himself to the LORD who was committing Himself to him (Cf. Josh. 24:2). The LORD promised him a land, that he would be a great nation, with a great name, he would be blessed and a blessing to those who blessed him, but also a curse to any who would curse him. He would be the LORD’s covenantal man. All the families of the earth would be blessed through him (vv. 1-3). Abram was 75 when he obeyed this call, and Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew went with him, along with all they had acquired in Haran (vv. 4-5).
Abram travelled first to Shechem, where the LORD appeared to him. Again, the LORD promised him and his descendants the land, and Abram built an altar to the LORD there (vv. 6-7). “And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South” (vv. 8-9). Everything seemed to be going according to plan. The altars were signposts, as it were, that it was the LORD who was calling him to this land. Even though the Canaanites were there, Abram was making good progress. He was no doubt encouraged when the LORD also appeared to him in the land itself (v. 7).
Then there is a setback. There was a famine in the land so Abram decided to go down to Egypt (v. 10). It could be that they kept heading south because they could find no sustenance due to the famine. However, as they approached Egypt Abram instructs Sarai to say that she is his sister, for fear of what the Egyptians might do to him to acquire Sarai for themselves (vv. 11-13). This is indeed a sad and dark time in their lives. The frailty of Abram’s faith is obvious. He obviously left behind the promises the LORD had made and the call on his life, and was prepared to trade his wife’s honour for his own life, or so he thought. Not only was his life spared because of his deception, but the Egyptians treated him well (vv. 14-16).
“But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife” (v. 17). It appears that the Pharaoh had more sense than Abram, rebuking him for his deception (vv. 18-19). In the providence of God the Pharaoh had not taken her as his wife, so they were spared this evil, and the Pharaoh sent Abram on his way with Sarai and all that he had (v. 20 Cf. Pr. 21:1). We are quick to overlook Abram’s faultering faith here, but this is also recorded for our benefit and instruction. The way of faith is not always pristine and free of doubt and fear. Like Peter who took his eyes off Jesus and saw the mighty waves, we also are not exempt from this possibility (Mt. 14:29-32).