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Going Back to the Beginning

Going Back to the Beginning
Written for our learning…

          After a rather embarrassing turn of events in Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20), Abram and his company travelled back to the land of Canaan (Gen. 13:1-4). The situation in Egypt could have been avoided at several points in the story, but perhaps the best place to pinpoint where the whole thing ‘went wrong’ is Genesis 12:10. As we look at Abram’s decision to go down to Egypt during this famine, we should ask ourselves: “Didn’t God bring Abram into Canaan in the first place? Wasn’t God able to sustain him through a famine?” The answer, of course, to these questions is “yes.” So, why did Abram go down to Egypt? It might be proper to point out that, though he is the ‘father of the faithful’ (Rom. 4:16), Abram was still a human being—and given to the weaknesses that plague every person.

            Once the patriarch realized the shame of being rebuked by an idolatrous king for his prevarication (i.e., speech that was misleading and evasive), he went back to Canaan, where he was before deciding to go down to Egypt. Perhaps one of the most comforting thoughts from this whole scenario is the fact that even after we offend the Creator by our decision to reject His counsel for lives, He still blesses us with the ability to go back and start over (Maclaren, p 86). Chapter 13 will not be reproduced here because of space limitations, but I advise you to read it at your earliest opportunity. The chapter absolutely teems with practical lessons for the thoughtful student. Let’s notice at least some of the lessons that God would have us to learn from this great chapter.

Starting over, at the beginning, is the only proper course for one who has left the path of God (Maclaren, p. 86). This is the great truth that our King, Jesus, told the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:5. He said, “repent and do the first works,…” The meaning of this verse, for us, is that once a person has left God’s way of doing things, the only way to get back to doing God’s will is to start over at the beginning and learn the lessons that every person must learn before progressing to the next stage of maturity. This is true for every person—no one is exempt—including Abram (Gen. 13:3).


Those who cast their lot with the friends of God are often blessed for their sakes (Leale, p. 256). When Lot decided to go with his uncle Abram (Gen. 12:4), he was traveling with someone whom God had promised to bless abundantly. We see from this account (Gen. 13:5-6) that God indeed did bless Abram with material possessions. In a similar vein, we ask: How often have we seen it be the case that some relative or friend of a righteous person is blessed (or spared some calamity) on account of the righteous one? Examples of this abound (Cf. 1 Kings 11:9-13; 2 Kings 8:19; Job 42:7-9; et. al.). The lesson??? It’s good to make righteous people your friends.


  • True servants of God are never eager to get ‘heated-up’ over some temporal thing (Maclaren, p. 88). When the herdsmen of Abram and Lot began experiencing strife, in an honorable and meek fashion, Abram went and suggested a solution which would alleviate any further dissention. Rather than insist on taking what he wanted first, he gave Lot the preference of which portion of the land he wanted. Likewise, when faced with a choice between asserting one’s right to something or giving precedence to another, the conscientious servant of God will realize that material things are not worth jeopardizing close relationships (cf. Matthew 20:26; Luke 14:10; Philippians 2:3-4).
  • Being guided only by the sight of the eyes is utter foolishness (Clarke, p. 98). Abram asked Lot to choose which portion of the land that he would have. Upon so doing, Lot “lifted his eyes” to see the abundance that the plain of Jordan contained. The prospect of material profit was all that Lot could see; and thus he moved his family into that wicked environment. Later, the apostle Peter would write that Lot “tormented his righteous soul” (2 Peter 2:8) by living in that kind of setting. I wonder if there’s a lesson here for parents who are so bent on making sure their children get a “good education” that they are willing to send them to the ‘great halls of secular learning’ only to have their faith overthrown by ‘learned professors’ who teach them that the Bible is merely the production of men.
  • Material prosperity often comes to those who do not seek for it (Maclaren, p. 86f.). While Lot lost his possessions and nearly the lives of himself and his family (Gen. 19:1-29), Abram prospered greatly in the comparatively barren part of the land (Clarke, p. 99). Why did he prosper? Because Jehovah had promised him that He would bless and multiply him. God still has the power to do this very thing today for Christians; but He does it for those who follow the directions that His Son gave in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you...” Living in a land of capitalism like America, it is easy to start trusting in money. It, thus, behooves Christians to go back and reread passages like Proverbs 11:24-26; 2 Corinthians 9:5-11; 1 Timothy 6:10 and 17-19.


    Works Consulted

  • Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary: Vol. 1. Nashville/New York: Abingdon Press, No date given.

    Exell, Joseph S., and H. D. M. Spence, eds. The Pulpit Commentary: Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, September 1961

    Leale, T.H. The Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary: Genesis. Ed. J.S. Exell. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. No date given

    Maclaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture: Genesis. New York: George H. Doran Company, No date given.

    Woods, Clyde M. People’s Old Testament Notes: Vol. 1. Henderson, Tennessee: Woods Publications, 1972.