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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev, along with his wife and Lot and all that they owned. (Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.) From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before. This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again.”—Genesis 13:1–4 (NLT)
Have you ever made a bad choice that snowballed into a series of dumb decisions? Six years ago, my wife and I leased a car we couldn’t afford. So, about six months later, we took it to a dealership and turned it in for another lease, but because we were upside down, we ended up paying more than we should have. Then, that car had issues and we had to get into another one. Long story short, that one bad choice led to six years of high-cost leasing until we just recently got out of it and are now free.
In our passage today, we see Abram finally get out of the snowball of bad decisions he and Sarai had made after having received God’s call. He’d sent them to Canaan, but as soon as famine hit, they’d left and gone to Egypt.
Theologian Alexander MacLaren points out, “If God had put him there, should he not have trusted God to keep him alive in famine? The narrative seems to imply that his going to Egypt was a failure of faith. It gives no hint of a divine voice leading him thither (there). We do not hear that he built any altar beside his tent there, as he had done in the happier days of life by trust. His stay resulted in peril and in something very like lying, for which he had to bear the disgrace of being rebuked by an idolater, and having no word of excuse to offer.”
Abram built no altars in Egypt. How could he? I mean, do you often find yourself building altars of praise when you’re walking in disobedience and sin? No! In fact, we often avoid them in these situations.
So, after this debacle in Egypt, Abram leaves and ends up right where he had started! Our passage today tells us they pitched their tents “where they had camped before . . . the same place where Abram had built the altar.” What an amazing picture for us to absorb and embrace. When we falter, when we make poor decisions and stray from God’s call and path, whether because of impatience or lack of faith or fear, the best way to come back is to take the path where we left off. In humility and repentance, we can return to a place of obedience and move forward in the calling and power of God.
Think about where you are today. Are you in Egypt or in Canaan? Are you far from God’s call or walking in it? Or, are you rebuilding the altar of worship that fell down after you left?
DIG: What was Abram’s mistake?
DISCOVER: Have you ever found yourself in a situation like Abram, where you drifted from the call of God and went in a different direction? How did that go about?
DO: Where are you in your walk today? If you’ve drifted from where God would have you or from His call on your life, repent and come back! If you’re walking in it, ask the Lord for continued strength, wisdom, and a fresh filling of His Spirit to continue walking. If you’re not sure where you’re at, ask the Lord to reveal where He wants to lead you.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.