Sermon: “Living By Faith” (Genesis 13:1–18)
Abram’s journey to Egypt was a failure of faith. The patriarch doubted Yahweh’s promises, so he conspired to take matters into his own hands. In spite of Abram’s faithlessness, Yahweh nevertheless rescued both Abram and Sarai out of their captivity in Egypt. As Abram returns from Egypt into the land of Canaan, many new questions may be entering his mind. How will this affect his relationship with Yahweh moving forward? Was this a one-time intervention, so that Abram needs to look out for himself moving forward? Is Abram now on some kind of probation? What if he fails to live by faith again in the future? In fact, Abram does not need to wait long for these questions to culminate in Genesis 13 when he encounters conflict between his herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. In the midst of this strife, can Abram still trust Yahweh to walk by faith, or has his sin left him on his own?
As we follow our forefather Abram in his footsteps of faith, we find in this story that Abram’s footsteps lead him through the fallout that comes from failures. When we fail to obey Yahweh, faith becomes increasingly complicated, since we do not know how much our sin will affect our relationship with God moving forward. On the one hand, sin does complicate matters, and we must endure more of the consequences for our sins than we would prefer to face. On the other hand, God has no desire to rub our noses in our failures. Rather, he longs for us to repent, turn again to him wholeheartedly, and learn from our sins by trusting him more, not less. Furthermore, God wants us to learn from every failure that walking by sight is alluring, but we never really find what we are searching for when we trust our eyes more than God’s promises. Instead, God wants us to learn the lesson that Abram discovers in this passage: God gives us by faith what we forfeit by sight.