Today, the story for Jesse Tree is the account of Abram and Sarai, and their wanderings at the prompting of God.
The short form of the story is that Abram’s faithfulness was such that God gave him and his wife new names – Abraham and Sarah – and promises that their descendants would be more numerous than the stars. What strikes me about the story is how little faith Abraham shows at various stages of the story.
God sent Abram to the promised land – and he went. But when the promised land turned out to be a dry desert experienced famine, he packed up wife and family and set off for Egypt. After the whole ‘this is my sister, Pharaoh’ episode, Abram, Sarai, and their people are deported – back to the promised land.
Abram and Sarai got sick of waiting for God to deliver on the descendants promise, and worked out their own plan. Sarai would give Abram a child through her servant, Hagar. This turned out to be a bad idea, one way and another.
But in his own time, God delivered, and Abram and Sarai received new names and the child of the covenant, Isaac. After this is announced, there is the whole fascinating passage where Abraham argues justice principles with God over the fate of Sodom.
Finally – some time later, the Bible says – God tests Abraham’s faith (and that’s tomorrow’s story).
One of the lessons of this story for me is that perfection isn’t part of the package. If Abraham, father of three religious families, found it hard to trust that the God who spoke to him would do exactly as promised, then is it any wonder some of the rest of us struggle? But God is patient, and God is faithful; not faithful to some false idea of a grandfather in Heaven who gives us whatever we want, but faithful to the plan of redemption through the new creation He will make of us in Christ.
Abraham’s part in that plan was accomplished not simply in spite of Abraham’s flaws (as if Abraham was an automaton who could do nothing to escape his fate), but through Abraham’s choices and his humanity.