Recently my small group has been studying through the book of Genesis, and to be honest, this study could not have come at a better time. In my personal walk with the Lord I have been dealing with inadequacy, and what better encouragement than to read and study about every day people who made mistakes, doubted God, showed their selfishness, and yet God refined them and used them for His glory.
One particular person I really enjoyed learning about was Abraham. There is so much to learn from Abraham’s life, but I’ll just give you a brief overview.
Abraham was first called Abram, and we find the beginning of his story in Genesis 12:1-2. In this passage God calls Abram to leave everything (his home, his land, his family), and go to a place that he will show him. God tells him that he will make him a great nation and will bless him. And the Bible says Abram went, no questions asked, he left everything and followed God’s call.
Now I know you may be wondering… where is the mess? Where is the doubt and life mistakes? Hang on they are coming!
We then move on to God’s covenant with Abram. Abram was married to a woman named Sarai, and she was barren. Abram desired to have a son and in Genesis 15:4-6 we find God’s covenant with Abram, promising him that long desired son.
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him; “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Though Abram believed and had faith in that moment, in the next chapter we find him lacking in faith, and making the mistake of taking things into his own hands. Sarai, his wife, offered for him to sleep with his maidservant as a way for them to have a son, and so he does. The maidservant becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, but this wasn’t the son God was talking about. In this life decision Abram and Sarai make a mess of things. Sarah becomes jealous of her maidservant, and Abram tells her she can treat the maidservant however she wants (which means it wasn’t good).
God meets Abram in this messy situation and once again confirms the covenant he has with him. God also changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God tells Abraham that even in he and Sarah’s old age they will bear a son.
Well how does Abraham respond?
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!
Snap! If I were God in that moment I would be so angry and disappointed, but God shows such patience and grace to Abraham (And I am so thankful).
God again tells Abraham that Ishmael (the son born through Sarah’s maidservant ) is not the son that he is talking about, but the son that Sarah and he will have together is the one that he will establish his covenant with, and this son will be called Isaac.
In Genesis chapter 21 we find God’s promise coming true. Abraham and Sarah have a son, and they name him Isaac. This is the son they longed to have, but did not believe they would actually have in their old age.
In chapter 22 we find God putting Abraham to a test. He tests Abraham’s faith and love in this chapter by asking him to take Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering. I can’t imagine what Abraham thought and felt in this moment, but I see so much growth in how he responded. Abraham did as God asked, he left with Isaac to go to the place God asked him to offer him up, but as Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac, God provides a ram to offer up in place of his son.
In this moment Abraham chose to believe that God would still come through on his covenant with him, and he showed God that He loved Him more than his son.
I love seeing the struggle and growth displayed in Abraham’s life. From walking blindly in faith, to unbelief, to poor decisions, to great faith once again, we see a beautiful picture of God’s grace in our messy lives.
I don’t understand why God chooses to use the imperfect to do His work and bring Him glory, but all I can say is what an awesome and gracious God we serve!
And the grace of the Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:14