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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah’

wait

The truth that God’s Word is living and active fleshes out in many practical ways, but there is one way which, to me, is really exciting.

Usually, whether during personal study or a sermon or a bible study, the subject has a main idea and focus.  Sometimes, though, God is pleased to cause a completely different truth to, in a sense, jump out at us.  I liken it to the disciples who mused that their hearts “burned within” them as a disguised Jesus talked with them.  Surely this is what they felt!  It is a knowing, a burning in the soul that will not be ignored.  Our God – the consuming fire as he refers to himself – is speaking.  God is speaking.  God is speaking.

And he is speaking directly to us, individually.

Before everyone packs up and heads for the hills, I should add the disclaimer that no, not all tangents from the appropriated lesson are words from the Almighty.  Let’s face it, sometimes we are just daydreaming or so deaf and dull that we are severely disinterested in what is being taught us from the scriptures.  Therefore, these things are marked by 1. being true and 2. corresponding with what the rest of the Bible teaches.  I am not talking about Susie’s mystical hour of cultish extrabiblical revelation and flippant use of the terms “God told me” or “God said” thus and so.  I’m talking about Holy Spirit inspired understanding of the scriptures in a way – albeit an orthodox way – in which one has not understood or recognized beforehand.  This is one way God teaches his children through the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, this happened to me last night.  I was sitting, listening to Beth Moore speak on the tabernacle and as she began to read a passage from Hebrews 6, a verse that I had never considered in any kind of extraordinary way “burned” in my heart and mind.

Afterward, I had a difficult time tracking with her because this verse so puzzled me.  It says this:

“And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.”  Hebrews 6:15 (emphasis mine)

The second I heard that verse read I began to question what on earth it could possibly mean.  Thoughts move rather quickly when attempting to apply logic.  The first thought I had was to take the verse at face value.  Abraham did thus and so and the effect was obtaining the blessing.  Suddenly, my logic came to a screeching halt.  I began to break down the verse with my historically centered thinking cap on.  The progression went something like this: Did Abraham wait patiently?  Did he?  He did?!  He did not!  This cannot be a face value kind of verse.

Abraham.  A childless man whom God called to father a great nation at age 75.  Yes, he believed God.  He even moved without a clue where he was going just because God said so.  But Abraham, in my estimation was anything but patient!  Why does the scripture call him patient?  And let’s not even get started on how full  of doubt and fear this man often proved to be.  Yet God called him both righteous and patient?!

Why?  How?  How is this possible and if it is possible is there hope for an impatient, anxiety-ridden, stressed out doubter like me?

I looked over the story of Abraham spanning from Genesis 12 – 21.  This is the time between the call and the promise and the first fruits of fulfillment with the birth of Issac.

From the time God called Abraham until Issac was born was 25 years.  Twenty-five.  That is a long time boys and girls.  Hold on to your hope.

After God called, Abraham obeyed.  The next thing he did was lie.  He rolled his wife under the bus to save himself.  Apparently that did not faze God or his promise.  Consider the mercy in this verse:

 “And for her sake he dealt well with Abram…” Genesis 12:16

For her sake.  God cares about the spouses of doubting, sin stuck, insecure men and women.

Next, Abraham questions.  Hey.  It’s been a long while since that promise, God.  No son here.  What’s the deal?

In his mercy, God confirms his promise and Abraham believes him.  Unfortunately, Abraham and Sarah decide they should “help” God fulfill his promise.  In other words, even though they believed God, they did not trust him.  Moreover, they trusted themselves more.  Talk about a split personality!  I feel you, Abe.  Abraham has an illegitimate son born out of – you guessed it – his own self-sufficiency, unbelief, and sin.

Finally, God again confirms his promise, giving detail this time.  He tells Abraham and Sarah how and when the promise will be fulfilled.  This is twenty-four years and a whole lot of impatient waiting after the promise was made.

Still, Abraham feared.  Even after the confirmation and the details were given, Abraham again lied about his wife and said she was his sister.  He says this:

 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought,‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. ~Genesis 20:11-12

Funny how Abraham justified his disobedience to God by pointing at others’ disobedience to God.  He accuses his enemies of not fearing God when all the while he is the one actually failing to fear God and obey him.  If Abraham believed the promise, how could he have simultaneously feared imminent death?  He did.  He lied to avoid being killed on account of his beautiful wife.

Finally, Issac is born, which was of course only the beginning of the fulfillment.  God blessed in the exact way he said he would.  Abraham is counted both righteous and patient.  Is that amazing to anyone else?  Does Abraham’s behavioral history seem patient to you?  As the mechanic says, are you pickin’ up what I’m layin’ down?

Skip to Hebrews 11:8-12.  Abraham and Sarah believed God.  They did not obey perfectly by any means.  They made a manure load of mistakes.  But they went when God said, “Go.”  They believed despite all odds.  They left their world behind and sought God.  They doubted.  They feared.  They even laughed at God’s ridiculous news.  But it was all true.  Nothing they did wrong disparaged God’s absolute determination to keep his promises to them.  And at the end, God honors Abraham calling him righteous and patient.

That is an amazing God.  That is a God of great, great mercy.  Do you see Him?  Surely he is good.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust. ~Psalm 103:8-14

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Paul has made his deep concern for the Galatians very clear.  He now goes on to offer an allegory for these men which was unmistakable, given their knowledge and background.

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.” ~Galatians 4:21-27

 In an effort to reason and help them see what they are doing, Paul questions them.  He’s like, “Hey you guys who think you want to be under the law – do ya remember what it says?  Let’s review…Remember Abraham?  Which one of his sons was from God and which one was from man?  These guys were very different weren’t they?  Hagar represents slavery.  Ishmael was a result of man’s faithless attempt to accomplish God’s will by his own effort.  Trying to keep the law to earn God’s favor is a result of the very same unbelief which brought about Ishmael.  This error results in exile, slavery, and never receives an inheritance from God.

Sarah, however, represents the promise of God.  She had no entitlement.  She had no faith.  She laughed at the very notion of God’s ability to save her from her desolation.  She neither trusted God nor obeyed him in this situation – even after the promise was made to her.  Still, God’s will prevailed despite her.  God’s will prevails to save his children despite them – not because of their own works!”

Now, Paul does something that makes theology geeks get up at 3 a.m. and worship God.  Paul applies the Old Covenant Promise to the New Covenant believers.  He takes God’s Word and he interprets it for us.  He leaves no room for error.  He says:

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. ~Galatians 4:28-31

Now, you, brothers.  You are not slaves!  You did not come by way of Hagar!  You are Issac’s brothers and sisters.  Stop regarding men who are trying to tell you otherwise and enslave you by your never-going-to-be-good-enough works.  These men are persecuting you because they are slaves; they are jealous; they are excluded by mere virtue of their lack of spiritual birth.  Cast out their ideologies!  Do not let them oppress you any longer!  Spiritual birth does not come from man’s efforts!  Spiritual birth comes from God’s promise!  We are not slaves!  We are free!

Oh! The glory of the truth!  Let no man confine God’s children to a mere game of merit and measuring up!  Let no teacher, no matter how influential, or prominent, or persuasive imprison the people of God!  We cannot be dismissed on account of our failures!!!  Brothers and sisters!  We cannot be dismissed on account of our failures!!!  Hallelujah!  We are saved on account of our faith!  This, not from ourselves, but the very gift of God alone!  We are not slaves, and even if we were, it would not save us!  No amount of morality or law keeping would ever make us righteous!  No amount!  It is our freedom that gives us a heart to obey rightly; to be godly; to love truth; to cease from rebellion.  And that freedom is found in the love bestowed upon us by Christ and his promise.  Therefore, use love to lead.  Use love to lead!  Not the wretched law!  Be like Christ and bestow love and grace in the face of failure.  And when you do, you will find that there is no need to lunge at others with the law.  They will love it, too, because of you.

This is glorious!  Glorious truth!  This is truth that makes a miserable sinner like me want to worship.  This is holy ground.  How beautiful!  How glorious!  How absolutely amazing!  Praise God!  We are not slaves.  We are children of a promise which cannot be broken!  That is what makes us obedient.  That is what gives us the confidence to go hard after God.  That is what we pour our very lives out believing.  The law is nothing more than our accuser.  It is the promise which serves as our motivator.   Amen!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlHqG00xCLA

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