As January draws to a close, so does our reading of Job and Genesis. I do have to admit that I enjoyed reading both books. I liked traversing back through Genesis and re-reading some of the stories that I remember from Sunday school, particularly the story of Abram.
The friend of God. God calls him out and tells him to leave everything- his family, his country, his inheritance and go to the land that God is promising him. God gives him the promise of an incredible blessing- ” I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12: 2-3) With incentive like that, who could resist? He takes his wife and his trusty sidekick nephew Lot along and heads out. God appears to him again at Moreh and promises that this land will be given to his offspring. Abram builds an altar and worships the Lord here.
Abram makes it to Egypt, lies to Pharaoh about his smoking hot wife, and God doesn’t punish him for lying– he sends a plague to Pharaoh’s house instead. This guy! He lies and God punishes someone else!
Abram and Lot separate, and Abram gives Lot first dibs at the land ahead of them. Afterwards, God comes to Abram again and promises him land and innumerable descendants. Abram ends up rescuing Lot after he is taken captive, and as he is returning home, he encounters Melchizedek. The Lord comes down to him again after this, and Abram asks for a son. God shows him the night sky and tells him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars.
Gen 15:6- “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith.”
Sometimes you just have to believe.
Abram and Sarai take matters into their own hands and we meet Hagar and consequently Ishmael. When Hagar runs away, the angel of the Lord appears to her and blesses her and her baby as well. (Abram is so blessed that even his illegitimated son and baby mama are blessed, too!) Even after this, God appears to Abram, makes another covenant with him and changes his name. He change Sarai’s name and promises her a son in a year. God never condemns or blames Abram, but just continues to remind him of his promise.
We see Abraham intercede for Sodom. As I read this, I kept thinking about how Abraham was negotiating with God. It would never cross my mind to negotiate with God. I would never credit myself with that much power or capability. But, as we see in the scripture above, Abram believed and was declared righteous.
Abraham lies about his wife (again) to Abimelech, and what does he get from it? Sheep, oxen, male and female servants, a place to live and 1000 pieces of silver to take her back. God had struck the women of Abimelech’s house hold with infertility, and once Abraham prayed for them, God healed them.
We come to the sacrifice of Isaac. Once Abraham passes the test, an angel comes down and blesses him and reminds him of the covenant that God made with him.
As I read through these stories, all that I could think about was how God continued to commune intimately with and bless Abraham, in spite of how humanly he behaved at times. It was such a great reminder to me that no matter what stupid things I do, God is still ready to fulfill his promises to me. Even in our mistakes, His presence never leaves us.