In reading the story of the life of Abraham, we see multiple places where Abraham attempts to take control of his circumstances. Sometimes the Lord allows Abraham to cause himself some disastrous consequences. Other times, the Lord simply tells Abraham how things will go.
As we read this story and see it unfold, we need to keep our focus on the real story God is telling us. Yes, we can learn from Abraham’s faith and his failures. Yes, we can learn from the miraculous way that God provides. But the big story in the book of Genesis is how God makes the promise of one to come to rescue his children, and how
God preserves that promise even when people do everything they can to mess it up. And the life of Abraham shows us God’s sovereign hand at work.
Take a peek at this one instance of Abraham attempting to give his 2 cents on how the plan of God should go.
Genesis 17:17-21 – 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
Abraham is 99 at this point. He had a son 12 years earlier. And now God is continuing to promise Abraham a son, Isaac, to be born to Abraham through Sarah. Abraham still has trouble believing that this will come to pass.
Even worse than Abraham’s doubt, at least for the main point of the story, is Abraham’s attempt to alter the line of promise. Abraham asks God to simply let Ishmael be the one who carries the promise of God so that this whole thing with Sarah does not have to happen.
Notice, in this case, that God does not entertain the suggestion from Abraham. In this instance, God has a plan, and God will carry it out. Abraham and Sarah will have a child together at ages 100 and 90 respectively. That child, Isaac, will be the one to carry the line of promise from God. Isaac will be the next step in bringing to the world the Messiah. And
Abraham has no say in the matter.
If you read the rest of Genesis, you will see things like this happen with each step of the process. God chooses Jacob over his brother Esau. God shapes some crazy life circumstances to make Judah the one of the 12 sons of Jacob who carries the promise. God performs a miracle to determine that Judah’s son Perez will be the one carrying the promise. In all this, God shows us that he is in control.
All of the Bible is about the promised one from God, the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus. All of the Bible is about God doing what man would mess up. All of the Bible is about God showing us that he is holy, glorious, just, merciful, and sovereign (among so many other things. God is in control. God will carry his plan to completion. We can trust him. We must submit to him. We should give him glory for accomplishing all that he sovereignly wills to accomplish. And we should learn not to try to change his plans as if we could ever have a better idea.