Summary: God keeps His promises, even when they don’t make sense.
It’s a new year, so it’s time for people to start making new year’s resolutions! A resolution is just a promise you make to yourself in order to improve yourself. Many people make resolutions like promising to exercise, or eat better, or study harder in school, that sort of thing. Many people refer to it as a “New Beginning”. I’ve resolved to improve my time management skills, so I can have more time to spend with my family. What are some new year’s resolutions you guys have made?
God made some fantastic resolutions and new beginnings in the Bible. Now, we don’t know what time of year these came so we can’t really call them “new year’s resolutions”, but the principle is the same. However, if our resolutions are designed to improve ourselves, what is the point of God making a resolution? God can’t be improved, so a resolution in that sense would be meaningless to Him. Thankfully, God realizes this and changed it up a bit. Instead of making a resolution to improve Him, He makes resolutions to improve us. In this case, Abraham. At this point, Abraham was still called “Abram”, was already married to Sarai, and they had no children. Since Abram was the firstborn, this essentially meant that his family had no future. Lot, Abram’s nephew, was the only son recorded in the Bible for the entire family born by this point. Lot had two sisters and no brothers -- a family of three boys grew up and only had one boy and two girls between them. Things were not looking good for Abram and his family -- in that time, your heirs and the size of your family had a lot to do with your standing in the community. We’re going to be travelling quickly through Abram’s life as described in Genesis, so get your Bibles ready! To start, let’s turn to Genesis chapter 12, verses 1-7:
“1The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”
So Abram gets this amazing promise from God -- “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, you will be a blessing”. Then God says it again, as if to remove any doubt, “I will give this land to your children.” This is incredible! Abram, the man with no children of his own, would be turned into a great nation and be blessed. Wow! I’m sure Abram was excited as he travelled to Canaan with his wife and nephew and began to set up camp. But shortly after he got to Canaan, things started to go downhill. Let’s pick it back up at verse 10:
“10Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.’”
At first glance, this seems to make sense. Abram knew the Egyptian culture, and he wanted to protect himself and his family from suffering. But look a bit deeper: he was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him.
How could the Egyptians kill him if he has no children? God specifically told Abram that through his offspring he would become a great nation. Abram can’t have any offspring if he’s already dead! If the Egyptians kill Abram before he can have children, then that means that God’s promise was a lie, right? That can’t happen! God doesn’t lie, but Abram and Sarai did. Let’s see what happens when they do; verses 17-20: