Breaking Camp

Studying the journeys of Abraham makes for an exciting study. I would encourage everyone to study his life and to give particular attention to his journeys. In this message we are going to look at his first encampment after coming out of Egypt between Bethel and Ai.

Genesis 13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

I want to point out two things here. (1) Abram went up out of Egypt. In spiritual terms Egypt is a very low land. It will be known later as the land of bondage. Abram is on a journey with the Lord. God had called him out of the land of Ur, a land of idolatry (Genesis 12:1). In that sense it was a low land, too. Anytime you are journeying with the Lord, you are moving out and moving up. When God called Moses to go into Egypt and bring the children of Israel out, He said, I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). So, in our text Abram is going up out of Egypt. Spiritual progress towards God is always designated as an ascension. (2) Abram takes his wife, his nephew Lot, and all that he had. You will notice, if you study his life, that Abram goes through many separations on his journey. So it will be in our journey with the Lord. Many of the things we would take with us are separated from us and many things of the Lord will be added to us.

Genesis 13:2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

The silver and gold would not be so difficult in Abramís journey. He could just load it all in saddlebags, carts, or whatever, but the cattle would be different. He had sheep, goats, and other cattle, and lots of them. He may not be in one place long enough to plant a garden or a field of corn and wait for a harvest, so he needs many animals. When the Lord and a couple of angels appeared to Abram in human form in chapter eighteen, he killed a calf to feed them. The sheep, goats, and bullocks would be food and would provide a sacrifice when he needed to build an altar and call unto God.

Genesis 13:3-4 And he 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.
4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

After leaving Shechem, Abram had built an altar at this place between Bethel and Hai (Genesis 12:8). Then there was a famine, so Abram went into Egypt during the famine (Genesis 12:10-20). Now Abram has left Egypt and returned to the altar he built between Bethel and Hai. Bethel means "house of God" and Hai means "heap of ruins." Hai, then, represents what Abram was when God called him. Bethel represents what God wants him to be. God wants Abram to be His house, the place where He dwells. In this sense, Abram represents the church. Abram is between Hai and Bethel. He hasn't become a Bethel yet, but neither is he a heap of ruins. He is in the process of becoming. That is where we are, too. We, as the church, are not yet what God wants us to be, but we are not just a heap of ruins anymore either.

Now we need to get to the breaking of the camp. The text says, "Abram went on his journeys from the south to Bethel." The Hebrew word for "journeys" is macca'. It means "breaking camp, pulling up stakes and moving out."

When Abram left Hai, he pulled up stakes and moved out toward the next place God had for him. He was through with Hai; he did not intend to remain a heap of ruins. He broke camp!

Some have camped at Hai for thirty or forty years or more and have not grown at all spiritually. They are locked in and do not know it. Oh, they will move from church to church occasionally, but it is just another Hai. They have not broken camp and usually are not open to hear anything else. When Abram broke camp at Hai, he did not take anything of Hai with him. He broke camp! He left everything of Hai behind! Some people do not want to change. That old-time religion is good enough for them, so they remain in a rut. Of Egypt Isaiah says, "The Egyptians strength is to sit still." In other words, they do not intend to move into anything more. Those who are represented by Egypt will never become a Bethel because they will not break camp. They will not forget the past. The Word of the Lord through Isaiah is: Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19.

The Apostle Paul spoke about breaking camp to the church of the Philippians. Paul was not going to sit still like Egypt and he didn't want the Christians at Philippi to sit still either. He wanted them to break camp, to forget the past, and to press toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I might attain into the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark into the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14. In other words, Paul is saying, "I am breaking camp!"

Copyright © 2011 by Henry DuBose