In Genesis 12, Abram hears God speak and obediently takes his family and leaves his home in Haran. He journeys into Canaan, and when God informs him that he is viewing his inheritance, he builds and altar and makes sacrifice to God. Then for some reason, Abram journeys on into Egypt. Here, we see him make a poor choice motivated by fear that gets him into a tight spot. I am summarizing of course, but before I start dissecting the chapter a bit, I wanted to mention the light details.
I mentioned in my previous entry that God chose to share certain people's lives for two reasons. The first was so that we could see Him working His redemptive plan throughout history. The second was so we could see how he worked through human failures and victories to glorify himself. As I encounter the many character accounts in chapters to come, I want to view them through these two sets of spectacles.
1)Abram's journey and God's plan
When God first instructs Abram to leave his family, part of his promise is that "in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." He is also told that "I will make of thee a great nation." Here we see God laying the ground work for his people, though they would not leave Egypt as a numerous people for more than 500 years. Here also, we see God lay the groundwork for Christ the Redeemer, who would come into the world through the nation of Israel more than 2000 years later.
Also, though Enoch "walked with God and was not," and "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord," I believe Abram is the first person recorded whose belief was counted to him as righteousness. By no means was Abram the first "redeemed" individual in history, but he is certainly the first detailed account of a person whose unregenerate--albeit moral--life was transformed by a belief that God would do what he said through a Redeemer who would come through God's fulfilled promise of a son for Abraham. We can see who Abraham is--good, though flawed through sin--, we can see him come to a point of belief, and we can see him change as a believer (though he still struggles with elements of the old nature).
2) God's use of Abraham's life
Abraham succeeds--He obeys God and travels into a new land. He builds and altar and worships God. God is glorified in the longevity of his name. Noah built an altar and worshiped God, but that event is now more than 450 years distant (though Noah had probably only been deceased 20 years or so prior to Abram's journey to Canaan). Still, Abram KNEW who Jehovah was. He KNEW who was speaking to him, because he knew TO WHOM he was building an altar. God is glorified as His name and appropriate worship of His name are passed from generation to generation.
Abraham fails--Fear is the sin that seems to prevail upon Abram's life both before and after his redemption. His fear causes him to do all manner of regretful things, and in this case, his fear causes him to encourage Sarai to tell a partial truth on his behalf because he fears the Egyptians will kill him for his beautiful wife. When Abram's lie comes to light, he and his "sister" are asked to leave Egypt. What a fiasco right? Well consider. They weren't supposed to be in Egypt. God used Abram's failure to get him back on track--back to Canaan where he was supposed to be. I can't help but think how often God has used my failures to put me BACK into the middle of His will. Oh yes, the experiences have been chastising and painful, but effective!