Abraham and Sarah – “ I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you”
As I write this we have just passed the six month anniversary of the first lockdown period of this global pandemic! We have also just passed the Autumn Equinox and this week we move from September to October. We have also seen a significant change in the weather! Is it really only a few days since we were complaining that it was too hot! And now we’re all complaining that it’s cold and we’ve got to put the heating on!
These last 6 months have seen unprecedented change in the way we live our lives and also perhaps in the way we think about life. So this week I thought we might reflect on Biblical accounts of transformed lives. There are of course countless examples of such transformations throughout scripture so I’m just going to pick out a few examples for us to consider.
Today I have been thinking about Abraham and Sarah, or as they were originally named Abram and Sarai. This unassuming couple were quietly getting on with their lives in Haran, surround by their family and friends. They were pretty happy with their lot, other than the fact that they were childless. But God had other plans for them. As we read in chapter 12 of Genesis, He spoke very clearly to Abram telling to him to leave all that was familiar to him and go to an undisclosed land that Gos would show him. Hmmm…all sounds a bit vague to me but Abram was obedient to the Lord and off he went, with Sarai and his nephew, Lot. Now Abram was no youngster! He was 75 when he embarked on this journey but age was no barrier to his trust and faith in God. The next few chapters of Genesis chart the many adventures of Abram and Sarai as they travel through the ancient world and they have quite a time of it – who needs Eastenders when you’ve got the Old Testament to read! Then in Chapter 17 we read of how the Lord appears to Abram ( who is 99 years old by this time!) and enters into a covenant with him. “ You will be a father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham” God goes on to tell Abraham what He has in store for him and also for Sarai who He renames Sarah and to whom He promises will bear Abraham’s son. Now at this point Abraham loses it slightly “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” You can sort of see where he’s coming from – it does all sound pretty unbelievable! But God keeps His promises and Sarah did indeed bear a son, Isaac, and thus the Lord’s first covenant with His people commenced.
Of course there is a whole lot more to the story of Abraham and Sarah but we can see in this brief summary just how amazing the transformation that God can bring about is when an ordinary person not only listens but obeys what the Lord is saying.
Abraham and Sarah not only received new names, they received the gift of a child, something they thought would never happen. They became the foundations on which God’s people were built but none of that are easily or indeed quickly.
For me Abraham and Sarah are a wonderful example of faith – both their faith in God and God’s faithfulness to His people. They are also an example of how God calls those who least expect it and those who perhaps others least expect it of as well. After all by the age of 75, especially in those times, most people are winding down not starting a whole new adventure in a strange land!
It is unlikely that any of us will ever be called by God to undergo such a radical transformation ( although you never know!) but we all have experienced times when we have had to be patient, despite our longing for change.
This is one of those times. It may feel that actually there is too much change and it’s not the change we would wish for. But we have to trust in God that there will yet more change to come, that this season will pass and one more we will be able to enjoy all those things we once took for granted. And when those times do come how thankful we will be for God’s faithfulness to us in bringing us through the tough times and leading us into times of joy, just as He did for Abraham and Sarah.