Sunday, January 6, 2019

God's Amazing Grace: Abraham

Many people claim that God will bless us when we fail ONCE, but if we fail in the same way again, if we sin in the same way a second time, then God is going to get get us!

Yet that's not what happened in the life of the Father of Fatih, Abram, later Abraham.

He sinned not once but twice and in the exact same way!

First, he lied about his wife Sarah (at the time Sarai), claiming that she was his sister when he went down to Egypt.

 "Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive." (Genesis 12:12)

He didn't do this because he cared about his wife, but because wanted to save his own skin:

"13Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee." (Genesis 12:13)

Of course, this ruse compromised his own wife:

"15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house." (Genesis 12:15)

Can you imagine being the wife of such a man as Abram? This man allows his wife to be taken from him so that he can stay alive. She ended up in the harem of a strange man, a heathen of all people! Most women would walk away from such a man who would just let his wife go like that!

Did I forgot to add that God blessed Abram through Pharoah, who ended up giving Abram all kinds of great blessings, including money as well as livestock?

"And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels." (Genesis 12:16)

Here's the breakdown in this first major sin, major failure of Abram:

1. He lies to Pharoah about his wife.
2. Pharoah takes Abram's wife Sarah awy from Abram so that he can have her for himself. Keep in mind that Pharoah doesn't think that he is doing anything wrong, since Abram announced to everyone in Egypt that Sarah was his sister, and not his wife.
3. Pharoah blesses Abram because of Sarah, even though Abram is a downright cad for lying, for putting his own wife in danger to save himself, and he gets property for it!

Then see whom God reproaches in this matter:

"And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife." (Genesis 12: 17)

One would think that God would be plaguing Abram, since he was the one who lied and put his wife in danger and took Pharoah for all he was worth.

But God favors Abram, because Abram believed on Him, while Pharoah had no covenant of grace.

Instead of killing Abram or seeking retribution against him, Pharoah pleads to know why Abram lied:

18And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had." (Genesis 12:18-20)

Abram got his wife, his safety, and all the goods given to him, even though he had lied to Pharaoh.

God blessed Abram in spite of his sins.

Now, the story does not end here.

Abraham--by this time, he has received a new name in order to recognize God's promise that he would be the father of many nations, and that through his seed all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 18:18).

Yet still, Abram--now Abraham--would lie to another heathen king just to save himself on account of his wife:

"1And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah."

This time, Abraham didn't even bother to consult Sarah (her name had changed, since she was no longer bossy, but now a princess, and from her kings would reign). The Father of Faith still wasn't perfect in his faith, still struggling to trust God to care and protect him.

Yet notice, that when Abimelech took his wife, God not only plagued his household, but confronted this heathen king directly:

"But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?" (Genesis 20:3-4)

God had come through from one promise after another, and yet still Abraham had a hard time trusting God to take care of him. Nevertheless, God still kept coming through for the Father of Faith. Abraham didn't realize all the blessings, all the favor which comes with God's Covenant of Grace.

But he would learn soon enough notwithstanding, and God blessed Abraham greatly through Abimelech:

"14And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. 15And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 16And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved." (Genesis 20:14-16)

Isn't this incredible?

Abraham lied about his wife not once but twice. His lie inadvertently troubled two kingdoms. How many people ended suffering because of this lie?

And yet not once do we see God chide, shame, or even abandon Abraham. God continued to favor Abraham, he blessed both of them.

Notice also that God came through for both Abraham and Sarah, just as He had said He would:

"And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him." (Genesis 21:1-2)

This is the Amazing Grace, the sweet sound which saved wretches like us, men and women who were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:4-6), and God places us in His Son and seated us with Him in heavenly places!

We are set free from sin, and even when we fail, God does not abandon us, does not leave us, and in fact He continues to bless us.

God does not stop blessing us because we fail. God does not drop us when we make the same sin, the same mistake twice. He keeps working with us, bringing us closer to Him, transforming us as we see more of Him:

"17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

This goodness shapes us, makes us more like Him!

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" (Titus 2:11-12)

The world says "When you fail, you will fall. We you sin, get ready for the beating."

That's not the Gospel. God blesses us when we don't deserve it, even when we sin, fall, fail.

With God, with His grace, He never stops showering His love on us. Because we live under an open heaven, a new covenant in Christ Jesus, we can receive--and keep receiving--the abundance of grace and the gifts of righteousness (Romans 5:17).

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