Compromise and self-preservation

Compromise and self-preservation

Todays text: Genesis 20

Abraham is an interesting character. In a world where we think we can make a name for ourselves, God
promised to make a name for Abraham. He promised to bless him with land and descendants. He
promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to curse those who treated him with contempt. He
promised that through Abraham, he would bless the world.

As Christians, we recognise that God’s greatest blessing through Abraham has come in the person of
Jesus. Humanly speaking, Jesus is the descendant of Abraham. In Jesus, we’re told, all of God’s
promise are answered with a resounding “Yes!” (2 Cor 1:20) Jesus came to save us to himself, the
triune God, from our sins and their penalty of death. But he also came to finally and comprehensively
show us who God is. To have seen Jesus is to have seen the Father (John 14:9).

If we are going to trust God as our Saviour, we need to know who he is and what it means to be in a
relationship with him. That is most clearly answered in Jesus – but it is a key theme of the whole Bible.
In Genesis 20, after the destruction of the cities of the plain, we read of Abraham and his family
moving to settle in the south of the promised land. Abraham was living in the promised land, and yet
he was doing so as a resident alien in the region controlled by Abimelech. Until God gave the land to
his descendants, and even afterwards, Abraham and his family was responsible for representing God
to the people of the land. In Jesus, God has promised those who trust him the world as an inheritance.
But until the day of Jesus’ return, we too are resident aliens, tasked with representing God, and being
“priests” to the world (1 Peter 2:4-12).

God always planned to send Jesus, humanly speaking, through the line of Abraham. But sometimes it
seems as if Abraham does all he can to upset God’s plan! Sometimes, Abraham is a man of
commendable faith; an example for us. Other times, like in Genesis 20, he is a description of us in our
moments of fear. So often we lose sight of the God we are serving in light of more immediate threats,
problems or dangers. The irony is that God is greater than any threat. But we forget that, and get
caught up in what we like to think of as “real life”. To save our own skin, we do unthinkable things.
How often do we not act because we don’t trust that God is able to take care of us? And sometimes,
we can do what we know to be wrong, and try and justify it in terms of our relative “better-ness” than
those around us.

Fortunately, Genesis 20 isn’t just a story of human fickleness and sinfulness. It’s part of the history of
God proving himself faithful and true. In it, we learn how God acts to fulfil his plans and purposes. And
we learn about the incredible grace of God, His undeserved kindness to those who should know
better… and to those who don’t. We learn that God is a God who desires justice, but who also gives
opportunities for repentance.

And we learn that God continues to use us despite our penchant for sin and failure. He wants better
for us, and very often disciplines us (sometimes through others). But when we fall, he doesn’t throw
us over for a better option. He picks us up and says, “I chose you. You are mine.”


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