Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God and Abraham

I heard a speaker who was pretty tough on Abraham for doubting God when God told him he was going to be the father of many nations. I don’t know if I can be that hard on Abraham. I mean, it was really a case of, “Who are ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Right? Abraham knew the earthly reality of the situation: Sarah was just plain too old to have kids! I think he wanted to believe what God told him, but he could only get as far as his human brain would take him. He forgot that God doesn’t have to color inside the lines. Very simply, Abraham limited God, and in doing so, cost himself and Sarah a lot of happiness, not to mention, the world a lot of peace!

Do you ever think about that? All the problems in the Middle East, even the 9/11 attack, can be traced back to Abraham and Sarah trying to help God keep His promise for a son. Did God need their help? Does God need our help to keep His promises to us? I have a hard time with that…I want to help! I want to speed things up! So I run out in front of God and smack into a brick wall. One of these days, I’m going to quit trying to help God give me what I think I need. But until then, I can read the story of Abraham and Sarah and be reassured that even when I lack the faith that God wants me to have, He still loves me. Even when I get out in front of Him and mess things up, He will keep His promise. In Abraham’s case, not only did God keep His promise, but He came and told Abraham face to face! Isn’t God wonderful?

God keeps all kinds of promises; the promises we like and the ones we don’t like so well. And this next part of Abraham’s story is about that other kind of promise.

Remember, Lot picked Sodom because it looked like the most comfortable part of the landscape. He did not want to have to work too hard. He wanted an easier life. And that got him in trouble. In Patriarchs and Prophets, Ellen White says that few things are more dangerous to the human heart and soul than a life where there is not want. “Idleness and riches make the heart hard that has never been oppressed by want or burdened by sorrow.” (p.156) She goes on to describe the people of Sodom:
There is nothing more desired among me than riches and leisure, and yet these gave birth to the sins that brought destruction upon the cities of the plain. Their useless, idle life made them a prey to Satan’s temptations, and they defaced the image of God, and became satanic rather than divine. Idleness is the greatest curse that can fall on man, for vice and crime follow in its train. It enfeebles the mind, perverts the understanding, and debases the soul. Satan lies in ambush, ready to destroy those who are unguarded, whose leisure gives him opportunity to insinuate himself under some attractive disguise. He is never more successful than when he comes to men in their idle hours. (pp.156-157)
Man, she could be describing people today! That’s the kind of people that Lot chose to live and raise his children with. I don’t believe Lot was a bad guy. I mean, he had lived with Abraham long enough to learn the right way to live and I think he tried to hang onto that as Sodom became more and more corrupt and evil all around him. Again, from Patriarchs and Prophets, I read that he was eager to protect the two strangers that came to warn him about Sodom’s destruction, even though he didn’t know who they really were or why they had come to Sodom. He had learned many of Abraham’s lessons. Those lessons may have been what made the difference between him being left to die in Sodom and being rescued by the angels.

Unfortunately, Lot’s children and wife were harder to convince. Maybe because they had not had the opportunity to learn directly from Abraham; maybe because Lot was not as good a teacher; but it may have been just the fact that their beliefs and convictions had been worn down by living in the middle of this sinful place. It just didn’t look that bad anymore. Remember the story of the frog? If you put a frog in boiling water, it will hop right out. But, if you put a frog in cool water and then slowly turn up the heat, he’ll stay right in the water and get cooked.

Lot’s older daughters didn’t want to leave their husbands. In fact, they laughed at their dad’s efforts to save them. His younger daughters and his wife didn’t want to leave their comfy house, their friends and their sisters/daughters. They wanted to stay where they were.

How much like them are we? We want to be saved, as long as it’s not too inconvenient for us. When I was in junior high, I remember praying that Jesus wouldn’t come back until I’d finished high school, and then in high school, I wanted Him to wait till I’d graduated from college. I wanted to go to heaven, but after I’d had my fun. Am I the only one who felt that way?

Thank goodness God saves us in spite of ourselves, like He did Lot and his family. The angels took them by the hand and literally pulled them away. Would Lot and his family have left without that extra pull? Probably not. Even so, they didn’t go far enough. They ended up in another evil little town. Mrs. Lot didn’t make it at all. Ellen White says,
“If Lot himself had manifested no hesitancy to obey the angels’ warning, but had earnestly fled toward the mountains, without one word of pleading or remonstrance, his wife also would have made her escape. The influence of his example would have saved her from the sin that sealed her doom.” Patriarchs & Prophets p 161
I want to set the right example for my family. What about you?

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