Monday, June 18, 2007

Abraham & Sarah: Part 3

Sorry it's been a very busy week, and I haven't had time to post in awhile. Today I want to continue our examination of Abraham and Sarah. God promised Abraham that through his descendants all the families of the earth would be blessed. We saw in the last post how they almost blew it. If God wouldn't have intervened, Abraham would have lost Sarah forever to the Pharaoh of Egypt with the "She's my sister," line. But God delivered, and bought back their marriage, greatly blessing Abraham and Sarah in the process.

In Genesis 15 God made a covenant with Abraham. God promised Abraham offspring. In Genesis 16 we see the response of Abraham and Sarah to this promise. When Sarah became frustrated with God's delay of his promise, she devised a way to cooperate with God to bring about the promise. She gave her servant, Hagar, to Abraham as a wife so that "it may be that I shall obtain children by her" (Gen. 16:2). Abraham listened to Sarah, and Hagar did in fact become pregnant. However, rather than proving to be a surrogate mother, Hagar proved to be a condescending peer to Sarah. That would never do, so Sarah dealt harshly with Hagar.

God revealed to Abraham again that he would keep his promise of providing offspring. The problem was Sarah's age. She was beyond child-bearing years. Instead of trusting God's promise, Abraham said, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!" (Gen. 17:18). In other words, "Just let us help you God. We've already provided a child for ourselves. We'll consider Ishmael as the child of promise. It's much easier that way." God, in his amazing grace and patience, didn't strike down Abraham for insolence. Rather, he reaffirmed his promise, knowing that Abraham is but dust.

The account of Abraham and Sarah is so hope-giving. I see Abraham and Sarah as possessing an incredible heavenly-mindedness, not building an empire on earth, but living in tents until they died. On the other hand, I see lapses in their faith that are nothing short of staggering. They wondered that it might be too much for God to provide a child for himself under impossible circumstances. I see in this a direct correlation to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. God provided for himself Isaac from the dried up womb of Sarah. And God provided for himself a sinless human being from the barren land of fallen humanity.

What does this text offer those of us struggling through the daily drudgery of marriage? Hope. It is not the strength of our faith, but the overpowering grace of God that secures our lives. We are free from any attempt to secure blessing for ourselves. We cannot secure blessings, but every good and perfect gift comes down from God (James 1:17).

How many times in our marriages do we become discontent with where we are. We fret and long for something more. We have some goal we want to achieve, some station in life we fear falling short of. The only station in life we should fear falling short of is eternal life. Fortunately, God has provided us eternal life without any help from us. The rest of our marriage is sucked up under the umbrella of our journey toward heaven. When we feel like things are really working out in our marriage, we must beware of settling for that temporary satisfaction like Abraham was satisfied with Ishmael. On the other hand, when we feel like our marriage is shifting and tossing all around us, we must beware of trying to help God deliver us from the trial by our own schemes. Just trust the God who brought Isaac from doubting Sarah, and Jesus from fallen humanity. He's working out your life for his glory and your eternal joy.

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