We read the story of Abraham and can’t help but chuckle at some of his bizarre decisions. He gives up his wife, saying she is his sister, to the Pharaoh of Egypt. He decides he will help God to give him a child by taking his wife’s maidservant as a wife. Again, Abraham gives up his wife to another king calling her his sister. (And creepy enough, Sarah was his half-sister!)
And yet, the writer of Hebrews exalts him.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
There is a lesson in the way the story of Abraham is recalled. They don’t recall his failures but instead recall his success. It’s a given that men will fail. We often can’t get out of our own way… we trip ourselves. Abraham was remembered for his faith and even for the right things he did. This is good news for those of us who have botched the plan more than once. We are not remembered by our good Father for all the times we did it wrong, but instead are remembered for all the times that Jesus did it right!
In this we can glean another lesson. Behind all our good and bad deeds is a good Father who is redeeming the world. He intended a world that would reflect his goodness and He is making it so. He is blessing the nations. He is changing hearts, one by one. He is using the very creatures who messed it all up to make it all right again.
On Father’s Day we can be reminded that we have a good Father. His goodness overshadows our shortcomings. As we watch Him clean up our messes time after time, we can learn to praise Him for the redemptive work that He is doing. As we cheer on these works, and marvel at His wisdom, we find ourselves imitating His wonderful ways. We find ourselves being transformed, slowly but surely, into the creatures that He desires.
Happy Father’s Day!
This morning I read Psalms 6-8. I was simply reading to hear God’s voice to my soul. Looking for refreshment and inspiration. Hungering for His presence. One of my distant mentors encourages reading through the Psalms continually.
I started reading and had a hard time relating to chapters 6 & 7. They were about dealing with an enemy. My life is very easy right now. My only personal enemy seems to be inside my head (the big enemy). I struggle with my lack of a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I worry that something will go wrong to disturb my comfort :) but I certainly do not relate to an enemy anything like David did. (Ps 6:7)
My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Then Psalm 8 came along and shifted the conversation. The focus is on God and the majesty of His name. It is a great Psalm of praise to lift our hearts from dismay. As we read, we can find encouragement in His grand design. In that, we are reminded of his purpose for mankind. (Psalm 8:5-6)
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
I am reminded that we are called to rule the world in a sense. I am also reminded that ruling the world can have a variety of difficulties.
When we have in our hearts a peaceful world where God sits on the throne and all are cared for... then we see the enemy. We see the enemy in stupid decisions, unkindness, utter evil. We see him in hunger, addiction, hopelessness, and loneliness. We must fight against these things.
When our heart is focused on this mission, then we find ourselves crying out for God’s rescue. (Ps 6:3-4)
My soul is in anguish,
The earth is tormented with the curse. God is a good Father. He desires to redeem us and to restore us. He will do it! Bring Him your heart and bring Him your tears.
I was a latecomer to church, never attending until my mid-twenties. Occasionally I would help with the kids ministry. They would sing the song “Father Abraham.” It’s funny to me that the kids would feature him in contrast to adult ministry. We didn’t talk about him so much.
In this current study of Abraham, he has been magnified. In the past I only thought about Abraham in regard to justification by faith and the Isaac sacrifice thing. This time around I see how bright he was in a rather bleak story. The fall of Genesis 3 leads to the first children murdering one another and a terrible downward spiral to chapter 6 where Noah shows up to bring some rest and refreshment. Then, immediately following we see the downward spiral continue with the tower of Babel. Gen 11:4 reads:
Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
Their hearts were bent on doing exactly opposite of what God had made man to do. We are reminded of the reality that God so plainly stated after the flood in Gen 8:21:
Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.
So, along comes Abram. He is no shining star but at least he is eligible to be used. He has not married his niece, he has not built a city to make a name for himself, and he has remained alive. (Gen 11:27-32) God chose to use him. God chose to bless him. Abram had not removed himself from the realm of blessing. God promised to bless him and use him to bring blessings to all the nations of the earth. God was intent on carrying out His mission and he will use anyone who will not remove themselves from the possibility.
I will make you into a great nation
Jesus is the ultimate offspring of Abraham. Through faith in Him we find complete forgiveness. Through faith in Him, anyone can remain in the realm of blessing! We can all be used to carry out the mission of God in our little microcosms.
When Peter made the faithful profession in Matt 16:16
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus told him that this is the stuff that He builds His church on. Abram expressed faith by believing and by acting in accordance with his belief. It wasn’t just lip service. Abram does exactly what God had asked him. (Gen 12:4)
So Abram left, as the Lord had told him
To be clear, Abram is no shining example of a human. But, he has remained in the realm of blessing through critical measures of obedience. Through obedience he chose to pursue the mission of God. He chose to allow God to bless the nations through him. His name would be made great because he humbled himself through obedience.
Our challenge is simple. Will we accept the call to bless the nations? Will we remain in the realm of blessing through faithful obedience? Will we set our hearts on walking with God and being a blessing to all in our path?
A shepherd and his journey