• | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 30:01
  • Passages covered: Genesis 12: 8-10, Daniel 8:4-5, Psalm 103:12, Joshua 8:9, Genesis 12:9-10, Genesis 41:54, Genesis 42:5, Acts 7:11, Amos 8:11, Romans 10:17, Genesis 12:10, Genesis 43:1, Exodus 4:10, Ecclesiastes 8:11.

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Genesis 12 Series, Part 8, Verses 8-10

Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #8 of Genesis, chapter 12 and we are going to read Genesis 12: 8-10:

And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto JEHOVAH, and called upon the name of JEHOVAH. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

We have been looking at these verses as Abram is first entering the land of Canaan. We have seen that the land of Canaan is a type and figure of the New Testament church.

It says in verse 8: “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel.” At first, I was wondering if this could be a sort of historical parable or word picture as Abram is removing unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, which means “house of God.” It reminded me of a verse in Matthew 24 when Christ said, “Then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains,” but I do not think that is in view because of the word “remove.” This word is not a word that directs us along those lines. God could have picked a word that would give the idea of “coming out” or “removing,” like Ezekiel removing his stuff in the presence of Judah. But God did not use that same word, so I do not think it is an early picture of coming out of the churches.

Again, it says, “And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel.” Abram is still in the land of Canaan, a type and figure of the church. He removed unto a mountain on the east of Bethel and the “east” is a direction that identifies with the kingdom of God. The sun rises in the east. We have talked about the “east” before and we have seen how it does identify with the sun and the sun is a figure of God. For example, in the New Testament, the Greek word “helios,” which is translated as “east” can also be translated as “sun,” so there is a clear and definite identification.

It is the same in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word translated as “east” is also translated as “ancient” or “eternal.” The kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom.

Abram, a true child of God, is removing unto a mountain on the east and the word “mountain” represents kingdom, so with both words (mountain and east) there is identification with the kingdom of God. It is east of “Bethel,” which means “house of God.” Then it says in Genesis 12:8:

… and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west…

This is interesting because Abram in the land of Canaan is going in the direction of the kingdom of God, the true or eternal kingdom of God. Bethel would be a figure of the outward representation of the kingdom of God or the “house of God.” The name “Bethel” literally means “house of God” and it is on the west as Abram is journeying to the east. That is interesting because God’s kingdom has strong ties to the east (the sun rises in the east), so the “west” is opposite or over against it. For instance, in the Book of Daniel we see the “west” used in association with Satan and his kingdom. It says in Daniel 8:4-5:

I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

This “goat” caused much damage and it was a figure of Satan and his emissaries and their kingdom of darkness. If you read that passage, it ties in with the “daily” being taken away and the place of His sanctuary being cast down and it speaks of the 2,300 evening mornings. It has to do with Satan’s triumph after he was loosed from the bottomless pit and he goes against the camp of the saints and overcomes them. The he goat came from the west. The word “westward” in Daniel 8, verse 4 is the same word for “west” in Genesis 12. The word translated in verse 5 as “west” is a different word, but it is still signaling that idea and direction - that Satan’s kingdom lies in the west. It makes this verse even more understandable, in Psalm 103:12:

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

As far as the kingdom of God (east) is from the kingdom of Satan (west) is how far God has removed our transgressions from us. It reminds me of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. They both died and Lazarus went into Abraham’s bosom (the kingdom of God) and the rich man went into hell (the grave). There is that great gulf fixed that cannot be traversed. The rich man cannot pass over and Lazarus could not pass from his location to the rich man. That fits in with the Day of Judgment and the fact that no matter how much a child of God might desire to bring the Gospel that still saves people, it cannot be done. But this is a good illustration of that distance between the “east” and the “west.”

In Genesis 12 the “house of God” or Bethel is on the west, while Abram has gone to a mountain on the east of Bethel. It really does serve to show the situation in the churches, especially, where God’s people are always moving in the direction closer to God, whether it was during the several thousand years at the beginning of the world when there was no corporate body; or whether it was the people of God within national Israel when there were seven thousand that did not bow the knee to Baal; or whether it was the people of God, the firstfruits, that were saved during the almost two thousand years of the New Testament church age. Even when the churches were not completely faithful and there were high places and a large number of tares, God people (the wheat) still grew in grace and the knowledge of God, progressing in their Christian life and becoming closer and closer to God – they were headed “east.” That was not true of the corporate organization and all the unsaved within it; they are still in the “west” and identified with this world and the kingdom of Satan because they were never truly born again.

Well, at least we have an implication of that here in Genesis 12, verse 8:

…, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east…

The name “Hai” is better known to the reader of the Bible as the city of Ai in the Book of Joshua. It was a small city and the Israelites arrogantly thought, “We will just go up and defeat them,” but the Israelites were beaten back, which caused Joshua to beseech the Lord and cry unto him. We read in Joshua 8:9:

Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.

Here, we see Bethel is mentioned along with the city of Ai. We are getting a little historical background on these cities. When Abram was dwelling in the land of Canaan he removed from the plain of Moreh and he went unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, “having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto JEHOVAH, and called upon the name of JEHOVAH.”

Let us go on to Genesis 12:9-10:

And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

This is the first time we read of a famine in the Bible and it is in the days of Abram. At last report, Abram was 75 years old and, therefore, it was the year 2092BC. Of course, there would have been a literal famine that would have occurred and a famine is the result of God’s curse upon the creation. These would have occurred, off and on, as they do today, but for the Lord’s purpose it is the first time He tells us about one because famines have a spiritual meaning. This is the first famine, but as we go on through the Book of Genesis we will find other famines that arise. The biggest one was probably in the days of Jacob and Joseph. It says in Genesis 41:54:

And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

It says in Genesis 42:5:

And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

This seven-year famine in the time of Joseph is referred to in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. It says in Acts 7:11:

Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

The Greek word for “famine” can also be translated as “dearth” or “hunger,” just like the Old Testament word and, therefore, they are equivalent words. In Acts 7, verse 11 the dearth that came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan was said to be “great affliction,” or “megas – thlipsis” in the Greek, and this word is translated as “great tribulation” in Matthew 24 and other places. Whenever we find those two words together, we know that God has in mind the “little season” that comes at the end of the church age. It was the time of the judgment of God upon the corporate churches and congregations of the world, so a “famine” relates to “great affliction” or “great tribulation.” We know this because the Lord has provided a verse to help us with a Biblical definition of what a famine represents spiritually, in Amos 8:11:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord JEHOVAH, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of JEHOVAH:

This is the spiritual dimension when we read of a “famine.” Yes, historically, a literal famine would occur when there was no rain and it impacted the crops resulting in very little food and people were hungry. It would have been an awful and grievous time. So, when we read about it, that is the historical aspect, but, spiritually, we can understand that God is saying He will bring a time in which there is no (effectual) hearing of the Word of God. And that is about as serious as anything can be in the spiritual realm, because it says in Romans 10:17:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The essence of “faith” is Christ Himself. Christ is salvation. He is life. The salvation of God comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. When there is a famine in the land, that means it is a famine of “hearing.” People are not able to “hear” because the Holy Spirit is not opening their ears because the Holy Spirit is not actively saving anyone. God did this during the Great Tribulation. The Holy Spirit left the churches and congregations and came out their midst, leaving the churches with Bibles in their pew and Bibles in their pulpits, but no Holy Spirit to open the ears of anyone sitting in the pews – that meant no more salvation. God did the same thing as He shut the door of heaven and ended His salvation program at the beginning of Judgment Day. We could identify Judgment Day as a time of famine because, again, as we learned in Amos 8, verse 11, it is a famine of “hearing the words of JEHOVAH.” When no one can have their ears opened, no one is becoming saved and that identifies with “famine.”

So, here in Genesis 12, verse 10 there was a famine in the land of Canaan, which typified the corporate church, and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there. What can Egypt represent? The world or the kingdom of Satan. In this case, Abram is leaving Canaan and going into Egypt and about 200 years later in 1877BC Jacob would leave the land of Canaan and he would also go into Egypt. Why would he go to Egypt? It was because there was “bread” in Egypt. Joseph was there and Joseph would take care of him; that is, Christ was there and Christ would spiritually feed His people. So, we really have an early prefigure of the end of the church age and the spiritual famine that would come upon the churches and congregations and the departure out of the churches when God would command His people to depart out and “flee to the mountains” and to go out into the world or go to Babylon. That would be the command of God on a spiritual level. Come out of Judah and go to Babylon. Come out of the corporate church and to into the world and there the Lord Jesus would feed us. In this verse, we have Abram picturing the elect that would come out of Canaan (the churches) and go into Egypt (the world) and sojourn there.

Then it says in the last part of Genesis 12:10:

…for the famine was grievous in the land.

The land was the land of Canaan or the corporate church. That is what it represented. The word “grievous” caught my attention because I find myself saying that a good deal more lately as I am trying to describe and share information about Judgment Day, the prolonged period of time we are presently in; and in order to describe it I have said, “It is a very grievous time for the child of God.” That aroused my curiosity concerning the word “grievous.” What does this word really mean? Of course, in our language we know it means something that is very difficult or problematic, but what is the Biblical definition?

When we look up the word “grievous,” we find it connected to another famine, the famine in Joseph’s day, in Genesis 43:1:

And the famine was sore in the land.

This word “sore” is the same word translated as “grievous,” but it is also used in an unusual way in the Book of Exodus. It says in Exodus 4:10:

And Moses said unto JEHOVAH, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

The word translated twice here as “slow” is the same Hebrew word translated as “grievous” or “sore.” It does not appear to make sense that Moses would say, “I am grievous of speech and of a grievous tongue.” It does carry the sense of “slow.” Moses is saying he does not speak quickly and neither does his tongue move quickly.

When we say we are in a grievous time period, what is one of the major things that serves to make it grievous or extremely difficult? What makes the prolong Day of Judgment extremely difficult is the “slowness” in which it is being carried out – we are already several years into Judgment Day, which began on May 21, 2011 and it is already the year 2017. And when we look to the future, the evidence coming forth from the Bible is indicating 2033. That is sixteen years from now. When I and others hear that date, we feel cast down and sorrowful. It is just too long – it is slow. When something is quick, that is a different story. That is one of the reasons that people “signed up” maybe a year before 2011 or even six months or a month before then. Or, if they hear a date, they can become interested a couple of weeks before the date because that is quick. It would be a quick judgment. Traditionally, the churches taught (and God’s people agreed at that time) that the Bible taught a speedy judgment. The Great Tribulation would end and then the Judgment Day. For a while we thought the judgment would be over when God threw everyone in hell with a snap of the finger. However, the Bible tells us that it is not the nature of God’s judgment. It says in Ecclesiastes 8:11:

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Is that not a very interesting verse?