Epic Fails : Abraham

Lying. Murder. Sexual Immorality. Disobedience. These are but a few of the sins committed by the Bible's prominent pillars. They were people who made epic failures out of their moments of weakness, yet they are also people God redeemed and used in powerful ways to build His Kingdom. 

That's what this new series is all about; exploring mighty men and women of God who had some epic fails along the way. My prayer is that it's an encouragement to you and me in our own faith journey; to know that no matter what we've done in the past God still has a purpose for us. The stories of these prominent figures are captivating and full of great lessons we can learn from!

Today we start with the father of Israel, Abraham. A man credited with incredible faith and revered for his place in our heritage. Even so, he was still a man and one who made a few mistakes.

What's interesting is that Abram didn’t grow up in a godly home or have a great influence. He didn’t start with the makings of being the great patriarch of Israel. In fact, Abram came from a godless home in a wicked nation. Not much to start with, which makes him a perfect candidate for many of us to relate to. 

We first learn about this great figure in Genesis 12 as God calls Abram to the faith.  He is living in Haran with his family when God reveals Himself to Abram and commands him to go to a new land. Five times God says "I will" in the first three verses of the chapter. God is calling Abram to sever his ties--the comfortability which he had clung to for so long--and take a faith journey into the unknown.

Along the many years Abram follows God's instructions, usually never knowing what the next step would be, his faith grew leaps and bounds through the various trials. However, there a few bumps in the road.

Not long after Abram steps out to follow God a famine hits in the land he is in and so he decides to take his family to Egypt where food was plentiful. The Bible is pretty clear when God spoke to Abram, but this is not one of those moments. We never see God tell Abram to go so it's gathered that Abram made that decision on his own. Out of fear and uncertainty Abram decides to move his family to a wicked nation. This is the first step down a dangerous path, showing us that when we decide to make decisions based off of what we think is best instead of what God says is best, we wander into risky territory.

Unfortunately, Abrams poor decision didn't stop there. You see, he was married to the very beautiful Sarai and he was afraid he would be killed by men in Egypt who wanted his wife. So he hatched a plan to go into Egypt as brother and sister instead of husband and wife. Abram was afraid of men so he took matters into his own hands and decided to live a lie. 

It worked for him, in a way. Abram wasn't killed but men did find Sarai attractive and she was taken in Pharaoh's harem. Can you imagine claiming your spouse as a sibling and allowing them to live with another? It's crazy, right?! 

God judges the situation and creates an opportunity for Abram and Sarai to leave untouched, thankfully. Because we serve a great God who is kind and gracious, thankfully! But poor Abram...sometimes you have to wonder about him. Sadly he doesn't learn from his mistake because in Genesis 20 he does the exact same thing in another country! 

In between these two circumstances God promises Abram that he will have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15) at a time Abram and Sarai have no children. Eventually, Sarai convinces Abram to take matters into their own hands and Abram sleeps with another woman to conceive a child. 

Abram shows a slight pattern of taking matters into his own hands when things get tough. Perhaps this is why God rarely showed Abram the next step--to teach him faith. And perhaps it's why Abram is now known as Abraham, full of faith. The man who was willing to lay his son on the altar because he believed in God's promise to provide heirs as numerous as the stars!

Most of the time we can't see the next step and we don't know what God is up to. Perhaps you've taken matters into your own hands before and it didn't work out. I know I've been there. Thankfully we get to have this beautiful relationship with a kind and gracious God who redeems our past for a flourishing future. 

If you've tried your own way in the past and it didn't work, know that God can right the wrong turn. Perhaps you've told a few lies that have buried you under tension and fear. God can unload all that for you. Let Him be the director of your steps moving forward and watch your faith grow as you trust in Him!


Questions/Thoughts

  1. Are you currently living under the weight of a wrong decision or lie? Surrender that to God today and verbally commit to following His ways as you move forward.
  2. Can you identify a time in your life when God corrected your wrong turn and still used you in a clear way? What was that? Take time to thank Him for His ability to use all things for good.