One has to love Abraham. He’s an anomaly.
One minute he’s faithfully embarking on a journey that uproots him and his family, the next minute he’s lying to Pharaoh about the nature of his relationship with his wife so no harm will fall upon him.
When I said “love”, I did not say “like”. Some of his behavior is purely despicable. But you have to love a guy you can’t quite figure out.
Take the episode in Genesis 14, where upon the defeat of several marauding kings, the ally kings of Sodom and Gomorrah want to honor Abraham with wealth – fruits of the spoil.
But Abraham refuses. He doesn’t want to get rich off of another man’s means. (See my caveat below for questions I still have). Instead, Abraham continues to look to the Lord to provide.
And God does.
Look at how Genesis 15 opens:
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” – Genesis 15:1 (ESV)
But Abraham brings up a little thing. A trifling thing, really.
“But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” – Genesis 15:2 (ESV)
See. You have to love Abraham.
He has an infatuation with the little things.
Here he is, talking with God, who has just promised him a very great reward (most likely because he just turned down a great reward from the other guys), and he has the nerve (or the guts?) to say, “That’s great and all, but…”
…what about an heir?”
…In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still childless.”
…You said that I would be a great nation. I don’t even have a small family!”
I don’t think Abraham was complaining here. I don’t think he was wavering in his faith either.
I think he was calling God to task on fulfilling what He promised.
Abraham was resolute in foregoing the treasures of the kings of the earth; now he wants to know if God is still going to be resolute in providing all that He has promised.
Sometimes God wants us to press into Him – and all that He has promised – and not just settle.
That’s why its ok to have an infatuation with the little, yet significant, things.
Because nothing is insignificant if God has promised it. It doesn’t matter what else comes along.
Have a hang-up in life about looking for God delivering on all that He has promised. And keep in mind that everything He has promised is found in His Son, Jesus Christ.
He’s the exceedingly great reward.
He’s also the son who will ultimately come along as God fulfills His promises (cf. John 8).
For Further Thought:
1. To make a covenant meant that you were liable to fulfill on your part of the agreement. If you didn’t com through, you were to suffer the same fate as the slain animals. That’s why Abraham had them cut in two. Normally the two parties walked through the middle together. But there, God causes Abraham to fall asleep and He alone passes through.
What do you think the significance of that, is?
2. Do you suppose God had a problem with Abraham being so upfront and blatant about the question and complaint of still not having an heir? Why or why not?
My Personal Caveat (or Questions I still have):
Caveat: What I can’t understand is why Abraham would take it from Pharoah, but not from the kings of Sodom/Gomorrah; maybe it was their state of godlessness. After all, Egypt was a friendly place for Abraham and his family to sojourn during a famine (cf. Genesis 12). All that to say that I am a pastor, and some things in the Bible still disturb me.