Genesis 12:10-20 “A Famine of Faith Leads To Failure”

Posted on May 25, 2009. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis 12:10-20 “A Famine of Faith Leads

To Failure”

Sunday 24 January 2001 PM




I. Egypt in the Bible

II. Faith Tested Tough

III. Anyone Can Fail

IV. Descending the Staircase of Sin



Introduction: In studying the life of Abraham we will see him at his best and at his worst; tonight is one of the worst events in his life. There is much for us to learn from the mistakes of godly men of old. In our sermon tonight we will learn about the significance of Egypt in the Bible and we shall see that Abram was Faith Tested Tough. But then we shall see that anyone can (and will) fail God at some point. Then we will see the Descending Steps into Sin that Abram took and that we need to avoid. We shall conclude by looking to Jesus as our perfect example and Saviour.

The main idea tonight is: don’t let a famine of faith lead you into failure.

I. Egypt in the Bible

What do you know about Egypt? Last summer Diana Durkee went to the Mediterranean for vacation and brought back pictures from Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt. She got to see the ancient pyramids and the Sphinx, the Nile River and the desert surrounding Egypt.

Egypt may very well be the second oldest civilization with only ancient Sumer ahead of it. But Egypt was already an ancient land when Abraham arrived.

The Old Kingdom 2778 bc to 2300 bc was the age of the construction of the pyramids and Abram arrived in Egypt towards the end of the first Intermediate Period (2300-2065bc). In other words, when Abram arrived, the Pyramids were already several hundred years old!

The first Intermediate period separates the Old Kingdom from the Middle Kingdom. This was basically about 250 years of chaos, decline and civil war in Egypt when the land was divided, conquered, lost and ruled by outsiders and rebels and even mob rule. Chaos and disorder characterized Egypt, a time of lawlessness and danger. Into this mess entered Abram, Sarai, Lot and all those who accompanied them.

But what does the Bible say about Egypt? Basically there are only a couple of times when the Bible records something positive about Egypt: the story of Josef and of Jacob leading his family there during a famine (Gen.46:3) and then when the angel told Joseph to take Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt for safety in Matt.2:13. The other times Egypt is mentioned it is not in a favorable light.

Exodus 16:1-3; 17:3; Num. 14:1-4. Isa. 31:1ff;

Arthur W. Pink writes, p.144-145, “This is the first mention in scripture of Egypt, and like all its subsequent references, so here, it stands for that which is a constant menace to the people of God symbolizing, as it does, alliance with the world and reliance upon the arm of flesh…”

James M. Boice writes, p.40, “To rely on Egypt means trusting human resources rather than God. It is something believers must avoid.”

In short, Egypt represents sin, the land of the lost, a land of false gods, the flesh, that from which God will redeem his people. Egypt represented slavery to Israel.

II. Faith Tested Tough

Let us quickly review Abram’s faith adventure up to this point.

1. Sarai, his wife, was barren. This was probably the case before he had met God, so this is in the category of normal disappointment and problem in this world. Bad things happen to the just and the unjust.

2. God revealed Himself to Abram. This was no doubt a startling encounter. Prior to this Abram was in all likelihood an idolater. Faith is a gift given to us by God. Notice that Sarai did not immediately get healed at this point.

3. Called to leave home and go to an unknown land.

4. He left!

5. Father died, and an unscheduled stop in Haran; but, Abram did pick up again and left Haran.

6. Abram did not move in and occupy Canaan, he kept the nomadic lifestyle and did not build a home.

7. Abram endured the Canaanites and their immorality and false worship.

8. Abram was a witness and built altars for worshipping God regularly.

III. Anyone Can Fail

The famine hit Canaan and we do not see Abram being told to go to Egypt, he just on his own decides to leave the land into which God had led him. This faithful man, the friend of God, sinned. He had a crisis of faith and failed. If it can happen to him, can it happen to any of us? Did it happen to any other biblical heroes? Which ones? Moses, Joshua, David, Josiah, Simon Peter.

Prov 16:18; Gal. 6:1

IV. Descending the Staircase of Sin

1. Unbelief- Is God true to his word or not. The oldest sin and root of all other sins.

2. Lack of worship-in vs. 9 Abram set out  toward the Negev, but we do not see him worshipping there, or anywhere until 13:4.

3. Self confidence- Prov 3:5-6

4. More sin- one sin leads to another. Lies beget lies.

5. Great loss.

6. Pain to those you love.

7. Rebuke and deep humiliation.

V. The Grace of God

Vs 12:20-13:4 God preserved him and even prospered him and ultimately led him back to proper worship and obedience.

Conclusion: WE are weak, Jesus is strong. Jesus never sinned. He loves us even when we wander back into Egypt. He will lead us back home and back into a right relationship with Him when we repent.


These are notes to an old sermon preached on a Sunday night that covers the same territory as my Sunday School Lesson from this past week.


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