Summary: Foolishness, Faithfulness, and Forgiveness
Foolishness, Faithfulness, and Forgiveness
The New Year brought new challenges for many. Many have decided to read through the Bible this year. I have loved to hear the different comments from people about the experience of their new challenge. The most memorable comment I have heard was about the men and women whose lives are recorded in the Old Testament. The person commenting said, “I have really always been a New Testament person, but I am enjoying the Old Testament because I realize that many of the great men of the faith struggled to trust in the Lord. They are by no means perfect.”
One cannot truly read through the pages of the Bible without getting the sense that God’s people are by no means perfect. In the Scriptures we have men who are called “pillars of faith” and “men after God’s own heart” who at times act as if they have never come to know God. What we see of the men of God in the scriptures is true of all who start the journey of faith. The Journey of faith is an upward journey, but at times along the way the upward journey seems to be going the wrong way. One of my professors at Criswell described it well when he drew a line on the grease board as an illustration of our journey of faith. there were some high points on this line, but there were also some low points on this line. The high points represented the godly times of our lives. The low points represented the times that we strayed away from the Lord.
We have already noticed this truth in chapter nineteen of the book of Genesis with the life of Lot. Lot was a righteous man who started off well, but did not finish well. He wanted the benefits of heaven, at the same time he wanted to enjoy the desires of the heathen. This would bring his life crashing down to a destructive demise. When compared to Abraham’s life, Lot’s life seemed to be more represented by the low points of the line rather than the high points. But don’t think for a moment that Abraham was a perfect saint.
One only has to turn back to chapter twelve to find Abraham, a great pillar of faith, failing in his journey of faith. In this beginning chapter of the life of Abraham we find his faith faltering in the midst of trying circumstances. A famine struck the land of promise and instead of trusting the Lord to take care of him, Abraham takes things into his own hands and sojourns to Egypt, a sojourn that would have been disastrous had it not been for the faithfulness of God.
After his rescue from his faltering faith, Abraham seemed to learn to trust in the Lord in every circumstance. We find Abraham trusting the Lord when he separated from his nephew Lot. We find Abraham trusting the Lord when he went to fight the four kings who attacked the city of Sodom. For the most part Abraham was maturing in his faith and trust in the Lord. There was a brief mistrust in the Lord in chapter sixteen, but it was not a mistrust based on fear as much as it was a mistrust based on the lack of patience. Thus, from chapter twelve up to chapter nineteen of the book of Genesis, a twenty-five year period, we see Abraham making that upward journey of faith, maturing along the way.
Unfortunately, chapter twenty is going to show us that though Abraham was maturing in his faith, becoming a great pillar of faith; he was also imperfect and capable of falling to the low points of life. I almost think that the Lord gave us Genesis chapter twenty to keep us all humble before the Lord. Remember what the apostle Paul said? The moment we thing we have it together is the moment we become vulnerable to moral lapses. Abraham’s life will reveal this truth once again in chapter twenty.
Some scholars argue that chapter twenty is a repeat of chapter twelve, therefore the discredit chapter twenty as authentic. But one should not see these two chapters as duplicate chapters; instead, one should see these chapters as a true revelation of our humanity. Just because Abraham is doing the same mistake that he did in chapter twelve in chapter twenty does not mean that it is authentic. What it means is that we has humans, even redeemed humans, have a tendency to repeat the same mistakes. That is exactly what is happening in chapter twenty, a repeat mistake on the part of Abraham. Though chapters twelve and twenty are similar, they also have many differences as well.
In chapter twelve Abraham makes his way to Egypt, which is outside the land of promise, on account of a famine in the land. In chapter twenty Abraham makes his way to Gerar for not other reason except by choice. Furthermore, Gerar is still in the boundaries of the Promised Land. When Abraham put his wife Sarah in danger in chapter twelve she was barren. When Abraham puts his wife in danger chapter twenty she was fertile.