Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 13

Yesterday’s TTWB installment introduced to a man named Abram. I touched briefly on him, but didn’t take the time to deal with the rest of the chapter. So, let’s fold the second half of Genesis 12 in with today’s chapter, shall we?

As we work Through the Whole Bible, we’re now in Genesis 13 (LINK). It starts with the observation that Abram moved back to the Negev from Egypt. What was he doing in Egypt in the first place?

After traveling to Canaan in obedience to God, trouble came to Abram and family. Famine struck the land, and Abram, Sarai, and Lot moved down to Egypt. While they were there, Abram lied to Pharaoh about whether or not Sarai was his wife and they were escorted out of the country. He then finds himself back in the Negev.

Here’s where things get interesting. “Negev” is the Hebrew word for a specific region, but the origin is the word for “dry” or “parched.” In other words, it’s a barren, desolate place. The Negev isn’t really a happy place to be.

It’s not uncommon, either, for us to find ourselves in unhappy places. It often happens like this:

First, there’s a task we think God has given us. Maybe it’s a job to do, a relationship to be involved with, or place to go. We start off in obedience and things go well. Perhaps the challenges are big, like getting started away from old relationships or crossing major rivers.

Yet we tackle those and make the first target. We get so far without giving up.

Then the trouble sets in, difficulty rears its ugly head, and we make our own decision. We really don’t intend to make it a wrong decision. It’s a perfectly reasonable, logical choice. We go where there’s food. We go away from trouble. Or perhaps we’re nuts enough to go into the intensity of trouble.

Sometimes even both: we decide to swap troubles. From famine, we flee to immorality. Not our own immorality, mind you, but a world with a different morality than we know. One that’s not quite right. We go to an Egypt: a place that seems like a good idea and that’s not entirely forbidden.

It’s just not where we ought to be. Eventually, we have to choose while there: assimilate or be cast out. Change ourselves to fit the place we are or be ourselves and lose the place, because we just do not fit.

When we come out, where do we find ourselves?

Usually, dry and parched. Even if things are good around us, the place feels just desolate. The resources are not what we want, the scenery is odd, and relationships? Well, still somewhat strained from the prior events. Moreover, our confidence is a little shot. After all, we’ve just nearly destroyed everything with that little side jaunt to Egypt, haven’t we?

What do we do?

Obviously, the big sermon point is “Don’t go to Egypt in the first place.” Right. That’s the point where sermons and human nature get detached. Really, don’t go? Great. That’s like me listening to Dave Ramsey say “Don’t go into debt” right now. It’s a great plan: what about the debt I already have, Dave?

Most of us are not sitting in the Promised Land without any baggage. We’re either back home in Ur, we’re in Egypt, or we’re in the Negev. Perhaps we’re somewhere in the journey between and betwixt.

For those of us in Ur: get moving. It’s a long journey but it is a thing to get started. Get it going.

For those of us in Egypt: get moving. Do not assimilate, do not blend. Get out. Move back where you belong.

For those of us on the move to the Promised Land: keep going. That’s a good place to be.

For those of us on the move to Egypt: turn the car around. Quick as possible.

For those of us in the Negev: be patient. Take a look at Genesis 13:14-18. It’s dry, it’s desolate. It’s the South—there might not even be a winter! Yet God will remain faithful and will honor His promises.

What do we do?

Build that altar. Don’t hesitate. Set in to worshiping the One True God, who gave grace through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Let the indwelling of the Holy Spirit draw you nearer.


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