Abraham: Genesis 12 – 18
Abraham is primarily known for his faith in God and this perhaps culminates in the story of how he was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God when asked by God to do so. This, all the more remarkable, as we know, if we read through these chapters of Genesis how precious a child Isaac must have been to Abraham. You see, God promises something to Abraham that despite being this great man of faith, I think at times he struggles to trust and believe in. Perhaps this is a bit controversial because if you search up Abraham on the internet you see many commentaries relaying a strong message about Abraham’s remarkable faith in and obedience to God.
Abraham and Sarah reach old age having borne no child. You get a sense they might simply be looking to peacefully live out their days in their hometown Ur in Mesopotamia.
However, God gives Abraham a clear and incredible promise: leave your home and travel to the area of Canaan where your very own children will live and prosper. Well, Abraham certainly does step out in faith at this point, I guess the promise is somewhat exciting and at age 75 he probably has just enough energy and drive left to make this journey.
Then we see some difficulties arise and, in the actions, he takes, it seems evident to me that he struggles to believe in this promise God has made. You see the blessing of children does not happen immediately. Before God brings about this miracle, Abraham must deal with some significant challenges. When facing famine, he is forced to take his family group to Egypt where he gives his wife Sarah to Pharoah stating she is his sister so he would not be harmed or treated badly. God clearly intercedes to unravel this mess for him, and Sarah is eventually handed back, and they can proceed again on their journey.
He then has to deal with a family feud leading to a parting of ways with his nephew Lot who settled in the fertile Jordan Valley. He then later had to fight a battle to recover Lot from an enemy who had captured him and his family group. The path to see the fulfillment of God’s promise to him does not seem particularly smooth and easy.
So clearly recognizing age is not on his side or his wife’s, Sarah, he sleeps with his wife’s maid Hagar at Sarah’s suggestion. This is clearly the low point in Abraham’s struggle to believe and trust in God’s promise. The outcome clearly leads to some relationship tensions within the family and between him and Sarah which you can read all about in Genesis chapter 16.
In chapter 20, Abraham again lies about the identity of his wife Sarah giving her to King Abimelech and again God must intercede to unravel a messy situation. Perhaps we sometimes make the same mistake again ourselves in life??
So, we know the ending to this story, eventually Sarah gave birth to their son Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old. 25 years had passed from that initial promise by God to him that provoked him to take his journey.
You see, I’m left thinking that this is a real story of faith that we can all relate to and Abraham, great as he was, clearly has ups and downs, moments of great faith and trust and other moments of weakness and unbelief. The amazing thing is how patient God is with him. When we read through the chapters, we see how God keeps reiterating his promise and encouraging him; how he builds his promise to the point of covenant agreement. How he intervenes with grace and mercy to unravel messy situations that come about when Abraham acts impulsively and without seeking God first, leading to not one but two occasions when he could have lost his wife. Why? Well, God’s plan is far greater than Abraham’s flaws because God’s blessing to all nations through his people is Jesus who will descend from the line of Abraham, and nothing is going to stop God’s fulfillment of that promise.
If I’m honest, my life has been a bit messy at times. I could have lost my wife and my marriage if God hadn’t gracefully intervened. I have had moments of soaring faith and panic-stricken moments of unbelief. Yet I am filled with hope and relief that just like Abraham, my failings and inequities don’t stop God carrying out His plan. Moreover, through the ups and downs, my faith has potential to grow, just in the case of Abraham who is prepared in the end to sacrifice his precious son if this is what God requires and hopefully, we can all see a parallel with the Gospel message in that. The journey of faith should have ups and downs, needs to have ups and downs for faith to grow and I am just left feeling thankful that God’s plans will never be thwarted by my failings and that He will treat me with grace and mercy when I mess up. Halleluja!
Lord thank you that you are sovereign and all powerful. Lord thank you that when I mess up you respond in grace and mercy. Lord thank you that you have a plan for my life and you intervene to bring me back on to that path when I stray off it. Amen
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