Welcome back! Or for the first time. So far, we’ve taken a look at who God created us to be and what went on with the first sin. We’re going to keep moving through the Bible, trying to get into the minds of people to try and figure out what they went through and how it relates to us. I’m not stopping at every person we come across. So if you were hoping to see Cain and Abel or Noah this time we’re just not going there right now. We may come back at some point, but for now we’re moving forward.
I’d like to introduce you to a man named Abram, later known as Abraham. Until this point in the Bible God has created, he has destroyed, and mostly interacted with men on a grand scale, like the flood and the tower of Babel. We’ve only seen him deal directly with Adam and Eve and their immediate children and Noah. It’s time to start getting personal.
Now, in the beginning of this story, Abram is with his father Terah in a place called Haran. They left from where they started, Ur, to go into the land of Canaan. With them are also Abram’s wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. Not much is said for why Terah was going this way, but it does put Abram in a good position for what God is going to call him to.
After the death of Terah, God speaks to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3. He gives Abram a command and a promise. “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” Abram is leaving the place he lived with his father to go into what will later be known as “the promised land.” Abram acts obediently and goes. When he gets there God lets him know he is in the right place and Abram builds an altar. He moves further and builds another altar. Not only is Abram being obedient, he is also worshipping God along the way.
I think that’s something to be admired. We don’t even know what the people really know about God at this point. Abram’s faith, obedience, and acts of worship were most likely passed down through the generations. I wonder how real God was to them. How difficult was it for Abram to just do these things, to show this faith? Had he experienced God personally before this? Or is he just trusting based off of Gods faithfulness to the generations before?
The Bible just makes it look so easy! Sometimes I feel rather hopeless in comparison. I mean, Abram just gets up and does what he’s supposed to without hesitation?! How often do we succeed like that? I’m going to tell you honestly, my track record is not so shiny. And for many people that’s probably true as well. Even though we may feel this way the Bible has a habit of helping us feel not so alone after all. As we’ll observe many times over, even great faith stumbles sometimes. In 12:10 – 20 we get to see a different side of Abram.
He goes into Egypt during a famine and tells Sarai to lie to the Egyptians with him and say she is his sister. If they know he’s her husband they might kill him and take her because of her beauty. Sure enough, those in Pharoah’s house notice her beauty and bring her in. God plagues the house of Pharoah because of her. Pharoah clearly thinks that what Abram and Sarai have done is wrong, but otherwise it’s not really spelled out how God feels about this. I mean, Abram is blessed even through the situation.
We know from Leviticus 19:11, Proverbs 12:22, and Ephesians 4:25, to name a few, that God hates lying. I believe what Abram did was wrong, but I also think there’s more to it. Why do we lie? To cover something up. Because the truth is hard. Because we’re afraid. Abram’s lie conveys a fear that we don’t generally associate with the faithful Abraham. But right now, at least, this is a part of him. In Genesis 15:1 God tells him “fear not,” which is typically spoken during a time of fear, not randomly. The entirety of chapter 16 is Abram and Sarai’s mistake with the handmaid Hagar from Sarai’s fear that she will never be able to have children for him herself.
There is fear and doubt even in the hearts of the faithful sometimes. If you have times of doubt that is not the definition of your faith! Abram’s faith and belief in the word of the Lord were counted to him as righteousness. Yet, he still made mistakes from his own fears, and the influence of the fears of others around him.
There is so much more in these chapters on Abram than I have mentioned and certainly more after God calls him to a higher standard beginning in chapter 17. At the age of 99 God will call him to “walk before me, and be thou perfect.” He will get a new name, experience the fulfillment of the promise, and trials and triumphs along the way.
When we are in the waiting period, before we’ve received our blessings from God, we must continue to be faithful, even though we may struggle with fear and doubts. We must move forward, even when we make mistakes just like Abram did. Our lives don’t have to be defined by fear, we can be defined by faith as we rise to the callings God has for our lives.