Summary: Abraham was fully human, but he was also a man of God. He was a part of something bigger than himself.
ABRAHAM’S JOURNEY OF FAITH
Joe Stowell, the president of Moody Bible Institute, tells about his experience watching the Olympics. He writes, “In 1980, America’s economy was in the ditch. The Cold War was in its fury. Russia seemed bigger, more powerful than us, and America entertained the world at the Olympics in Lake Placid. I remember coming home from church the Sunday that America was playing Russia in hockey. It was in the end of the first period, and we were beating the Russians. All of a sudden I realized my stomach was in a knot. My knuckles were white, and I had this anxiety about the game. All through the second period we were ahead. Going into the third period, I knew what would happen. The Russians would score five goals at the end of the game, beat us, and we would be embarrassed again. But we won! It was such a big deal that the national networks played it again. My wife and I watched the whole thing Sunday night. Only this time I didn’t have a knot in my stomach. I leaned back on the couch and put my feet up. What made the difference? I could relax because I knew the outcome.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all knew the outcome of everything and the outcome would always be good? If we could look into the future and actually see that God was going to be faithful in guiding our children on the right path. If we could look through a telescope of time and know that we were going to be financially secure. If we could know that the problem that seems so big now would work itself out. Wouldn’t that be great? We could go off the blood pressure pills and throw away the anxiety medication. We could put our feet up and sail through life.
But that is not how life is. That certainly was not how it was for Abraham. God called him to leave his family and his home and travel to a strange country. He had no idea where he would end up, what it would look like or how it would turn out. He did not know if he would be robbed and beaten along the way. The only thing God told him was to go and that he would be with him. He knew that God told him that he would bless him and make him a great nation, but he could not see how God was going to do that. It is one thing for God to tell you something, and it is quite another to understand how he is going to accomplish it. We want to understand all the details and know the outcome before we really put our feet up and relax.
There are many lessons to be learned from the story of Abraham, but the first is that: Abraham was fully human. The Lord said to him: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” What a wonderful promise of God! What a blessing to know that God had a special purpose for him and would be with him wherever he went! But the very next verse of scripture says, “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.... He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran” (Genesis 12:1-5). What did God tell him to do? He told him to leave his extended family and he would give him directions as he went along. But Abraham did not do what God told him. He wanted the security of other people. He wanted protection. He wanted to have people around him whom he knew and understood. So Abraham took Lot with him. And the problems caused by Lot were many. Tensions arose between the families and Lot moved away from Abraham and settled in Sodom — and you know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But bringing Lot was not Abraham’s only mistake. God told him that he would be with him and protect him, but twice, when Abraham entered unfamiliar territory he told his wife to tell the people in those places that she was his sister. He was afraid to tell them that she was his wife because she was beautiful, and he feared that they would kill him in order to have her. His fears were not unfounded, because this often happened back in that time. It was the prerogative of kings. But Abraham’s fears overruled his trust in God. God had said to Abraham: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). But he did not listen to God, and he selfishly placed his wife in danger trying to save his own hide. God would never have approved of what he did, and neither would God have approved of Abraham endangering his plan for him. How could he become the father of a nation if his wife was no longer with him? What if Sarah was returned to him, but was bearing another man’s child? What an enormous mess he created.