We know that Abraham had love for and hope that God would care for him. But like many of us, those words are easy coming out of our lips. Putting hope into action through faith is a lot harder. And Abraham, just like you and me, was a work in progress.
Remember the clay and the potter we started the blog with? There is next the issue with the unrighteous people of Sodom and Gomorrah, which we will touch on briefly. Once again God proves His love for mankind when Abraham negotiates with God to spare the residents of the city from being totally destroyed due to their unrighteousness. Abraham poses the question to God, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham inquires, “What if there are fifty people who are righteous,” and barters with God down to ten righteous people. And God’s response is always the same, “For the sake of ten people, I will not destroy it.” Abraham stops asking for a number lower, perhaps because he knew that there were no more than ten or he was hoping his nephew Lot and his family might be spared.
Scripture does not tell us why, only that God had mercy and grace on the righteous living in the city. Abraham was once again assured of God’s faithfulness, love, and mercy.
So here we go again. Our hero has moved to a new territory where another king rules the land. Once again Abraham exercises his self-will. Fearing that King Abimelek would kill him if he knew Sarah was his wife, he tells him she is his sister. Abimelek did take Sarah to be his wife, but God intervened through a dream to Abimelek and warned him of the dire consequences that would befall him if he were intimate with her. When Abimelek confronted Abraham as to why he had lied to him and almost brought great guilt upon him, Abraham’s response was very interesting. “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father, though not of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me. Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’” (Genesis 20:11-13).
Here is a simple exercise for you. Start making a list right now of all the transgressions Abraham has committed. Perhaps you missed the last one, the subtlest–justification.
In our fallen state, we can justify just about anything. It is what I like to call one of our “respectable sins.” It ranks right up there with gossip, not far behind the quicksand of envy, jealousy, and judgmentalism. I call them “respectable sins” because we get so used to doing them, we do not see or feel ourselves sinking in the abyss of pride, which ranks No. 1 on the list. Is there hope for our hero? Yes.
Abraham was being prepared to show his complete dependence on God and not run his life on his own will. Scripture tells us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).
Abraham had plenty of time to reflect upon all the times God had remained faithful to His word. So when God asked him to sacrifice his son, the one son God had promised Abraham his descendents would be counted from, Abraham’s hope in God would now be the greatest act of faith in his long life.
But the story also had a deeper meaning in the way God refers to Isaac as “your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,” words that would be said of God’s love for Jesus and His creation, who died that we may live through the hope of the resurrection. We shall cover this in more detail in the next weeks in our next link in the chain of faith, hope, and love.
Abraham clung to God’s assurance that His promise would be fulfilled, and this act of superlative faith and obedience would be credited to him as righteousness.
If there is hope for Abraham, there is hope for every one of us. God longs for you to trust Him. He has a plan for you. Will you show up to claim your prize? I hope you will. It changed my life, and I know it can change yours. At least that is my hope for you if you are reading this.
Let go and let God.