Why Did God Allow The Famine?

Abram Is Driven By A Famine Into Egypt



 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive (intense and grievous).

Genesis 12:10 (AMP)


Abram in Egypt

God’s purpose in allowing trials is not only to verify our faith but also to purify it and remove the dross. God knows what kind of faith we have, but we don’t know; and the only way to advance in the “school of faith” is to take examinations. Like Abraham, as you progress in the “school of faith,” you will face three special tests:


  1.  Circumstances (Gen. 12:10)
  2. People (12:11-13:4)
  3. And things (13:5-18).



In leaving his family and traveling to an unknown land, Abraham took a great step of faith. After he arrived, he saw God a second time and heard His word of promise. Abraham and Sarah probably expected to settle down and enjoy their new home, but God would not let them. Instead, God permitted a famine to come to the land. There is no record that Abraham ever faced a famine in Ur or Haran; but now that he was in God’s land, he had to find food for a large company of people, plus flocks and herds.


Why did God allow the famine?


To teach Abraham and Sarah a basic lesson in the “school of faith,” a lesson you must also learn:


Tests Often Follow Triumphs.


This principle is illustrated in the history of Israel. No sooner had the nation been delivered from Egypt than the Egyptian army chased them and cornered them at the Red Sea (Ex. 12-15). Testing followed triumph. God brought them through, but then they faced another test: no water (Ex.15:22-27). After that came hunger (Ex. 16) and an attack from the Amalekites (Ex. 17). Tests follow triumphs.


One of the enemies of the life of faith is pride. When you win a victory, you may feel overconfident and start telling yourself that you can defeat any enemy at any time. You start depending on your past experience and your growing knowledge of the Word, instead of depending wholly on the Lord. This explains why the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is preceded by the warning of verse 12:


“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”


God did not want Abraham to become proud and self-confident, so He put him and his faith into the furnace of testing.


After you have won a great victory of faith, expect the enemy to attack you or the Lord to test you, or both. This is the only way you can grow in your faith. God uses the tough circumstances of life to build the muscles of your faith and keep you from trusting something other than His Word. Don’t try to run away from the problem. It won’t work.


Instead of remaining in the land and trusting the Lord to help him, Abraham went “down into Egypt” (Gen. 12:10). In the Bible, Egypt is a symbol of the world system and its bondage, while the land of Israel is a picture of the inheritance of blessing God has for you (Deut. 11:10-12). When people went to Jerusalem, they went up; but when they went to Egypt, they went down. Spiritually speaking, “going down to Egypt” means doubting God’s promises and running to the world for help.


When circumstances become difficult and you are in the furnace of testing, remain where God has put you until He tells you to move. Faith moves in the direction of peace and hope, but unbelief moves in the direction of restlessness and fear.


In times of testing, the important question is not,


How can I get out of this?”




What can I get out of this?”



(See James 1:1-12.) God is at work to build your faith.


God alone is in control of circumstances. You are safer in a famine in His will than in a palace out of His will. It has well been said,


“The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”


Abraham failed the test of circumstances and turned from the will of God.



Bible Exposition Commentary 


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