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The Power of Faith

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Join Our Peoria AZ Christian Church for This Powerful Series on Faith...

…Now I Know...
(Faith, Faithfulness, and Learning to Righteously Fear and Trust God)

Week Two  – Immediately after Abraham’s arrival in Canaan – Negeb (the land of Promise), he encounters a famine.

Test Two – Dust or Trust

Genesis 12:10-20

10 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. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 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.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 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? 19 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.” 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.

Abram’s story in Genesis 12-22 is indeed the story of faith, faithfulness, and learning to righteously fear and trust God. The story restores within us the reality that Abraham the patriarch and paragon of faith that we read of in the book of Hebrews struggled, just like we do. He struggled to reconcile God’s promises for the future with very difficult in-the-moment experiences requiring complete trust and faithfulness to God.

Hebrews 11:8-12 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Abram/Abraham took a “leap of faith” when he gathered up his family and left his people (except Lot) and home to answer God’s call, and his faith shows that initially, he feared God and fully trusted Him enough to follow through on His promises made. His faith however was quickly tested when he arrived in the land of promise and was immediately faced with famine. Not only did Abram feel compelled to leave the land he was promised, but he also foolishly and unfaithfully lied and deceived the Egyptian pharaoh, putting at risk his wife Sarai/Sarah’s life and the promise given to him by God. Abram’s lack of trust and unfaithful behavior in Egypt should encourage us to question not only how much he fully trusted God, but also push us to have spiritually healthy and honest conversations about how Abram’s story also provides us evidence that God is faithful even when our faithfulness and trust in Him struggles and fails us during some of the most critical and challenging times. Let’s dig a little deeper to see just how Abram got to his place of compromise and fear.

First, let’s look at how unrealistic it is to regard Egypt as a forbidden territory to God’s people at this stage in history when it was soon to be expressly allotted to them as a place of favor and refuge, and that their presence there would not nullify or damage their claim to Canaan. The reality is that Abram had to feel his way forward (verses 8, 9) without a moment-to-moment revelation or personal daily instruction at every step, guided often-times largely by physical and natural circumstances.

Secondly, It was a common practice in ancient history for people groups to be nomadic when in the circumstance of providing food, water, and shelter for family and people. In the region of Canaan where famine had hit hard it might well seem a providence or even provisional that Egypt was nearby, plentiful in crops and livestock, watered by the flooding of the Nile. We can see that Abram greatly feared his ability to provide for his family, enough to abandon God’s promise, plan, and purpose.


The fear of Abram’s circumstances overshadowed his ability to be faithful to the promised blessing and favor of God – provision. Some would say “You can’t eat a promise.” But others would say, “Yes, but you can live by faith while being faithful to what God has promised.”

What provision did Abram have available to help him stay the course, overcome his natural fear, and remain faithful in a faith-defining moment?
  • The Call of God – leave all behind and go to the place I show you.
  • The Promise of God – generational blessing and favor.
  • The Purpose and Place of God – worship and dwelling in Canaan.

When he left his homeland in Haran, Abram was no longer living life under common rules or circumstances. His life was set apart, a life of calling, promise, and purpose – there is nothing common about that. He was called not only to live and walk by faith but to do so in the fear of only God, moving forward in faithfulness and complete trust in the ONE who called him. It is clear that Abram had placed His faith in God. It is also clear that He had not yet learned how to be completely faithful in trusting God during those faith-defining moments. Trusting God for all that He had called him to, and then faithfully walking in all that He had promised to him. Sound familiar? Of course, it does. Here is what we see Abram do in the critical faith-defining moment of famine.
  • (Verse 10) Abram leaves Canaan for Egypt.
  • (Verses 11-13) Abram conspires with his wife Sarai to lie to Pharaoh. “Tell him you are my sister.”
  • (Verses 14-16) Based on a lie, Abram accepted the goodwill and gifts of Pharaoh in exchange for what he thought was Abram’s sister.
  • (Verses 17-20) Abram keeps silent and continues to hide the truth while Pharaoh endured plagues and hardship for taking Sarai. There is nothing faithful about Abram’s behavior.
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What Can We Learn

Could Abram not trust God enough to provide food and provision, even in the land that he had specifically selected for him and his people? All the indications are that Abram did not stop or stay long enough to find out. Instead, he went on his own initiative, taking everything into account but God’s call and promise. His faithless and trustless processes are doubly revealing, both of the duplicitous natural character of this spiritual hero and patriarch and of the sudden transition that can be made from the righteous place of faith to that unrighteous place of fear. Caught in the trap of his deception, Abram found himself unable to refuse his questionable earnings (16), if indeed he wished to, and unable to answer Pharaoh’s stinging rebuke. Yet if this experience lay behind his powerful reply to the king of Sodom in 14:22, then there was something worth salvaging from it.

The crucial importance of the story, however, is its bearing on the promise of land and people. This is the true theme of these chapters, with Abram’s vision under constant challenge. Here, at the first touch of hunger, fear, and opportunity for riches, the vision was lost and the whole enterprise put at risk: it would need plagues to restore Sarai to her destiny (17), and deportation (20) to get Abram back to Canaan.


You can join us on this journey to embrace the lessons from Abraham’s life and faith.  We will strengthen our faith as we dig in to God’s Word.  You can connect with our Peoria AZ Christian church in person or through our livestream on Facebook and YouTube.  Find out more what is going on HERE.

Published by Dr. Victoria Isaac

Dr. Isaac has been involved in Christian ministry for over three decades. She has served as an adjunct professor at several Christian universities, created Christian leadership courses, and written course curricula, and now serves as the President of the Fully Equipped Bible Institute.

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