Skip to content

When Things Go South

[‘Going south’ is an idiom that generally alludes to directional maps, on which south is down. Thus, south means lower in value, or going into a bad or worsened situation.]

I is not surprising that the great heroes of faith are also portrayed as great sinners. Such heroes were but sinner-saints with great weaknesses and faults, challenged with great temptations and falling with heavy splashes into the slimy pit of shame. And yet they are heroes, people we can strive to emulate, learning from their mistakes. We do it humbly, knowing that if it could happen to them it could easily happen to us.

Araham was a great hero of faith. He trusted in the promise of God and is called the father of all believers in Christ Jesus.

Bt not always did he act so. Perhaps his greatest shame involved a trip to Egypt (Genesis 12: 10-20). Shortly after arriving in the Promised Land of Canaan, Abraham almost immediately left it. Because of a severe famine, he obviously felt he had no choice but to move south. But God did not instruct Abraham to go to Egypt, nor did He give him permission to leave the Promised Land. Surely God could have provided for Abraham in any situation. It seems like Abraham was not convinced of it.

Wat started out as mistrust quickly spiraled downward. Abraham’s wife Sarah was a very beautiful woman. Abraham feared that Pharaoh would desire her, make Sarah part of his harem, and have him killed. And so he convinced Sarah to say that she was his sister. That made Abraham a liar—to save his skin.

Wat Abraham had feared happened. Gorgeous Sarah became the talk of the town and was taken to Pharaoh’s house. However, instead of killing Abraham, Pharaoh treated him well, gifting him with much livestock and many servants. And Abraham took them all, refusing nothing. That made Abraham something worse.

Bt the worst was not even the way in which Abraham dishonored his wife, but in the way he threatened God’s very plan of salvation. For if Pharaoh had succeeded in his lustful desire of keeping Sarah, there would have been no heir and promised Seed through her, and no redemption for mankind.

A this point the Lord intervened sending plagues upon Pharaoh. Getting the message, the king confronted Abraham with his lies and deceit and kicked him out of the country. Good riddance!

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20) Despite Abraham’s foolishness God protected both Abraham and Sarah delivering them northward to safety. God even allowed Abraham to keep all that Pharaoh had given him. God reiterated His covenant promise to Abraham, eventually gave him the promised son, and made Abraham the father of a great nation. How gracious and merciful the Lord is!

Srely we can sympathize with Abraham, as we recognize our own weakness. We also can fear and panic in tough times. We can lie and deceive to further our cause. We can disgrace and betray those whom we say we love. We can build roadblocks to God’s path of salvation even doubting Christ and compromising His Gospel. God would be just to leave us to our miserable fate.

Bt where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. Where sin abounded God sent His Son to save mankind. Where sin left us dirty and ashamed God washed us clean by the atoning blood of Christ. Where sin continues in our lives God daily forgives us and keeps His promises still. He gifts us with protection, with spiritual enlightenment, and every needed blessing. O Lord God, Who in all the world is like You? Have mercy upon us, and lead us upward to our promised homeland.

David Fuerstenau is a retired pastor. He lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.