The kids and I have been reading through the book of Genesis. We read a chapter a day, usually five or six days a week. A few weeks ago, we read through the story of Abraham and Sarah. As fate would have it we’re studying Hebrews in Community Bible Study this year, and right before Christmas, we studied Hebrews chapter 11.
Hebrews 11:11 says, Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
That did not really mesh with my vision of who Sarah was. Honestly, the description of Abraham in Hebrews doesn’t seem like the one that I read in Genesis either.
In Hebrews 11:8-10, the author tells us By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
I guess this is who we remember Abraham and Sarah as being, but with my fresh reading of Genesis, as I went through this passage, I remembered how much doubt and insecurity plagued their actions. They often lived as if in bondage to those fears.
In Genesis, Abraham lies more than once about Sarah, telling men that she is his sister in order to allay his fears that these men might kill him for his bride.
They also struggled with impatience, and ultimately, disbelief. Because they doubt God’s ability to fulfill his promise of a son and they don’t trust in his timing, Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham. This relationship leads to a son for Abraham, but not the son of promise. Instead, much of the sorrow and strife that is displayed in his life in the Biblical account is related to the unhappiness in his household because of Abraham’s relationship with Hagar.
When the angels (and God Himself) come and announce that their long-promised child was coming, they didn’t just disbelieve. They laughed. Nine months later, they rejoiced at Isaac’s birth. God is faithful, even when we are not.
Eventually, Abraham is called to lay it all on the altar and sacrifice his son Isaac back to God. By this time, the experiences that Abraham has had give him the faith to obey that call. One of the most beautiful verses in Genesis is in chapter 22. As they go up to the altar to worship God, Isaac asks his father where the lamb is. Abraham’s reply is, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Knowing that he’s about to sacrifice his son, this statement takes so much faith and trust that I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around it (For the happy ending to the story, read Genesis 22.)
Somewhere. Somehow. They lived their lives and saw God be faithful to his promises. They saw the disastrous results of their own addenda to God’s plan. Their faith grew. Not only did their faith grow, but God also continued to be faithful to his promises. Hebrews says, Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
God kept his promises. He still does keep his promises. I’m glad that he uses us even when we’re not perfect. Even when we’re riddled with doubt and fear. Even when we scoff the idea of his promises. Even when we’re not patient enough to wait on him. Even when we think we know all the answers.
Abraham and Sarah are remembered as the beginning of the entire Jewish nation. They are the ones who had enough faith to believe God’s promises and step out in faith to the journey of a lifetime. I am so glad that their faith was living and growing throughout the Biblical account. It reminds me that even though my faith will never be perfected in my life, I can still be used by him so long as my faith keeps growing. My prayer is that I’ll always continue to step out and to keep growing in faith.