“And [Abram] went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.”
As an expression of wisdom, love and grace, God called Abram to be the father of a special covenant people who would represent Him to the world (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:4-8). God instructed Abram to leave his home in Mesopotamia and go to the land of Canaan, which the Lord promised to him and his descendants. Abram obeyed the LORD and after he entered the Promised Land, he built altars to honor the Lord who had promised him such stupendous things (Genesis 12:7-8). Suddenly there was famine in the land, and without consulting the Lord on what to do, Abram fled to Egypt (Genesis 12:10). While he was there, he feared that the Egyptians would kill him and take Sarai, his wife. His solution was to convince Sarai to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister (Genesis 12:12-13). While in EPgypt, the Pharaoh took an interest in Sarai and commanded that she be brought into his house. For her sake, the Pharaoh treated Abram very well, providing him with male and female servants as well as livestock (Genesis 12:16). God was very displeased with the situation and sent great plagues on the Egyptians until Sarai was returned to her husband. Deeply distressed, the Pharaoh sent the couple from his land with all of their possessions (Genesis 12:17-20). This was surely one of the low points of Abram’s life. Seemingly contradictory to God’s promises, Abram had no land and no children. He was not a blessing but a source of trouble for others. His conduct was a very poor witness indeed. This was not the end of the story however. As today’s verse passage tells us, Abram exercised humility, wisdom, and moral uprightness in returning to the place where he had last communed with God. His decision is very instructive. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, sometimes the most helpful, progressive thing we can do is to go back to where we “got off track.” This is the essence of repentance, a changing of the mind and a turning away from one’s present course. Throughout our pilgrimage here there will be times when we deviate from God’s chosen path for us. When this happens, the wisest, most helpful thing we can do is to return to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). “Draw nigh to God,” wrote the Lord’s half brother James, “and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). May these meditations be an encouragement to us all.
God bless you,