At the end of last year I felt both I & Soo and many of my disciples needed a reading plan for the Bible. And I hadn’t read thru the Bible in a while. Well 10 days in, so far so good. We’ve been reading an OT passage and a NT passage and it has been very helpful to see the correlation.
Also though i have read these passages so many times before, The Holy Spirit continues to illuminate and give fresh understanding.
I always used to think of Abraham a a mostly good guy who made a few mistakes… he had great faith, but struggled a couple of times… as a frail, gentle man who found it easy to submit to God… but perhaps i have had it all wrong, and he, like everyone else in the Bible is not just a flawed person, but a pretty awful person.
1st he put his life above his wife- not once, but twice. I never really got that, but more so now, it seems not only cowardice but so self-centered.
It is easy to think he was just a cowadly man by nature, maybe weak, frail – after all he was old- but was he? Even though 80 is very old now, and old to some degree then, he would live several more years, He fought in battle and was victorious. So, his move to protect himself was not one of simple disadvantage but selfish self-protection.
He certainly did not express faith in God to protect him, despite all of God’s promises. He certainly did not act in righteousness to love and protect his wife. He was living for self and trusting himself
Then, he not only did this to his wife, but also took Hagar as a mistress- to the shame of his wife and bore a son. He did not honor his covenant with Sarai or with God. He again lacks faith in God’s promise. He again tries to take things into his own control. He was trying to help God fulfill his proimise- but he didn’t need to.
See perhaps he thought he was helping God. Perhaps he thought this was God’s provision. But ungodly mean, or means not according to God’s will or plan is ultimately dishonoring God and lacking faith in God himself.
Furthermore, this act was unloving, selfish and disrespectful. This is not the way God leads. His decision wound up resulting in hurt to Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael, and all of his own descendents.
He tried to take a short-cut to God’s will and wound up further away.
Then not only that, but then he disregards Hagar. He lets her and his son go out into the wilderness to die…
Once again God intervenes. He rescues Hagar and Ishamel and ultimately Abram from the consequences of sin. God reveals Himself as One who sees, hears and rescues.
The hero of the story is not Abram but any means, God is.
We are much like Abram, we are selfish and self-centered. We care for ourselves more than others, even those we love. We may hear from God and want to follow Him, but we easily revert back to serving ourselves and trusting ourselves.
Abram may be seen as a man of faith, but more often than not he trusted in his own methods and his own plans and wisdom. Sometimes perhaps he thought he was doing the right thing, helping God out but ultimately was trusting himself.
We too trust ourselves. We are not patient enough to listen to God and follow His ways. We think we know better than God or that our way is just as good.
We more love the prize or reward or blessing God offers rather than God Himself.
Jesus, however, fully trusted God. After fasting for 40 days He was hungry, and eating is a blessing God gives. Satan however tempted Him to turn stones into bread. He could do that, but it was not God’s way. Jesus came to build a kingdom and Satan offered it to Him without all the suffering God the Father called him to. Jesus however would not worship satan, he didn’t take the short-cut, He obeyed God to the end.
In the end Abraham would trust God and offer his son on the altar. He did this not because he was physically weak or timid, but even though he was strong and could have tried to fight or could have opposed based even on what God had promised- he trusted God. He submitted, he surrendered.
We too need to learn to submit ourselves to God. It is easy to say we trust God, but it is much more difficult to actually surrender.
When I address students they say they are surrendered, but when I bring up a particualr topic such as going on a mission or giving their lives to missions or giving money, or trusting God with their finances- they say they can’t do that. They have to protect themselves, take care of themselves, they have expectations to fill.
We easily delude ourselves, much like Abram. Satan tempted Jesus, he will surely try to decieve us.
We may think we are strong or smart, but we must humbly submit ourselves to God, look to the example of Jesus and trust in Jesus to direct our steps and paths.
We can rest in the gospel, recognizing that even Abram was a wicked, wicked man. And though we may fail, God will not fail us, He will always be faithful. And after each failure is an opportunity to trust God again. Our righteousness, our worth, God’s love toward us is not based on how good we are or even how full of faith we are- but in Christ and His work on our behalf.
Let’s keep walking with Him, and allow Him to correct us, and learn how to trust Him fully, completely
Dear God, I thank You that You are faithful and patient. You do not give up on me. You do not grow weary of me, but continually instruct me and redirect me and restore me. You cover my mistakes and my sins. You forgive me and give me another chance to obey and follow You. I confess i am selfish, self-centered and trust in myself, my ways, my plans, my methods more than You. i confess i seek blessing more than i seek You. Lord, teach me Your ways, guide me & help me follow You. Reveal Yourself and Your will that i may honor You and bless others. I submit to You and want to trust you, help me in my unbelief. Be glorified in me. Amen