Stories You Have to Know: Sarah and Abraham
Genesis 12:1-4 begins the long, imperfect, and beautiful story of Abram (later Abraham) and Sarai (later Sarah). I love the way this passage is nestled, for the story preceding it is the Tower of Babel.
3 Ways Abraham and Sarah are not people of the Tower
Abraham and Sarah are the opposite of the people of the Tower. The people of the Tower did not want to go. They wanted to stay. They wanted to make their name great. They searched for a way to the clouds.
1. God comes to Abraham and says, "I want you to go to a land I will show you." Did you get that? God doesn't even tell him the destination. Just get in the car and drive. Abraham and Sarah are willing to leave everything they have ever known.
2. Whereas the people of the Tower want to make their name great, God's promise to Abraham is, "Abraham, I'll make your name great." What an amazing turn of events. What astounding grace. Of course, through Abraham the Messiah comes, so Abraham's trust in God allows God's name to be made great among the nations.
3. Whereas the people of the Tower want to build a city that reaches the sky, Abraham "was looking forward to the city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God" (Hebrews 11:10).
3 Ways this passage helps us think about our lives
This passage helps us know how to think about our life as followers of Jesus.
1. Often our destination is unknown! Life changes. Careers change. The unexpected shows up and is no respecter of our schedules. Yet God tells us, "Go." So, we go into the world as people who have heard the Word of the Lord.
2. Our life is not about making us great, but is about serving others for their good and for the glory (praising) of God. God says, "I will bless you so you can bless others." What a meaningful life that would be. In God's economy, when you give your life and your love to others the more it increases. You deposit pennies and get back gold. The grace that comes to us works through us. So in order to bless others we need to continually be fed and nurtured by God.
3. The life that is to come inspires us to work in the here and now so that others may know how good God is. None of this pie in the sky theory. I grew up hearing, "That person is so heavenly minded they are no earthly good." Scripture imprints this message on us very clearly--faith is never separated from doing.
How this passage points us to Christ
"And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (12:3).
Abraham believed God and it was "reckoned to him as righteousness." Meaning, God did not establish a permanent relationship with Abraham based on Abraham's ability to do good or to be perfect (if you read Abraham's story this stands out). Now, God requires trust.
So when the Apostle Paul goes to the Gentiles he says to them that they are descended from Abraham even though they are not ethnically Jewish. Paul writes, "Just as Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.' For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed." (Galatians 3:6-9)
Perhaps unbeknownst to you, God talked about you when he talked to Abraham about blessing all the nations (people groups). That blessing is yours when you believe. Truly, the Word of God has come to you, found a home in your heart, and has blessed you.
The love of God overflows from Abraham and Sarah to others.
We are blessed. Perhaps you could say right now as you think about this, "I am blessed." Seriously. Say it. It's good for you. Of all people the love and grace of God has flowed to you.
Now, like our Father Abraham we hear the Word of God telling us to "go." Go and trust God in this big, wild world. Live for others. Make Christ's name great in prayer, worship, and life. And, somehow though we don't know the destination, God's promise stands true--he will bring us all the way home.