Last Sunday we began a new series of sermons from the Book of Genesis. My goal in these sermons is to go more deeply into the familiar story of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and their families, to learn from them and to learn more about the God who called them and sustained them through their entire lifetime.
As we saw in the first week, Abraham and Sarah didn’t start out as sterling examples of faithfulness. They are certainly portrayed that way in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11. 11:8 says “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (NKJV). Verse 11 adds, “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”
The writer to the Hebrews is considering Abraham and Sarah from his vantage point, hundreds of years after they died. But Abraham and Sarah started out as Abram and Sarai, two very ordinary people living on the Euphrates river in what is now the nation of Iraq. God called them from the family of Terah, a man who worshiped many gods and they began a journey with more downs than ups. No matter how much you have made a mess of your life, Abram and Sarai can probably top you.
Abram handled his life a lot like many of us tend to: seek the most expedient way out of a problem, that is, shortsighted, knee-jerk, unplanned living. What about faith? Abram didn’t show much when he met his first challenge, a famine. He took the easy way, down to Egypt, where he promptly lied to Pharaoh and tried to pass Sarai off as his sister. But there is another side to the story.
Abram was weak in faith. But think about what God did in spite of Abram’s lack of faith. He blessed Abram with more wealth. He protected Sarai, in spite of Abram’s willingness to let the king take her. He got Abram back into the promised land, where he continued to work with him and slowly, by grace through faith, Abram began to change. God had to use a deportation order to get Abram back to the land of promise. Who knows how long Abram would have stayed in Egypt otherwise?
What is the life lesson? God is faithful, even when we are not. That’s a pretty important lesson, and it only gets stronger as we move through the Genesis stories. We will see that the lives of these men and women are not in the Bible to give us models of how to live as citizens of God’s kingdom, but to show us God’s faithfulness to those who call on his name. I hope you will be encouraged by our journey through the book of Genesis and that God will speak to you. Don’t miss a single Sunday and plan to invite a friend on this journey!