If God sent out His A-Team, you’d expect Abraham to be right there. What an outstanding man: father of a nation, father of the faithful, friend of God, exemplar of faith, and so much more! Abraham is pure gold. Or is he?
For about 25 years, he and his wife had a secret plan for self-preservation (Gen 20:12, 13). They conspired to tell a half truth that was a whole lie. They stated they were brother and sister, although actually they were only half-brother and half-sister. This obscured their true and more significant relationship as husband and wife. Their rationale was this: Sarah was so beautiful that others would kill Abram to have her. Not trusting God to preserve him and thus fulfill His promise, Abram preserved himself through guile. Cowardly, he would sacrifice his wife’s virtue to save his own life. He treated lightly the sanctity of marriage and his role of providing for his wife; he used her for his benefit. And he manipulated her with guilt; she must twist the truth or she would cause his death. Abraham justified this to himself, because “surely the fear of God is not in this place” (20:11). But where was the fear of God in his own heart? He was no better than they.
As He had done when they perpetrated their plan in Egypt (12:11-20), God intervened in Gerar. He graciously spoke in a dream to Abimelech, alerting him to the seriousness of his potential sin. How sad that a heathen man should then so soundly reprove God’s friend! “Thou hast done unto me deeds that ought not to be done” (20:9). Abraham’s response was pathetic: “when God caused me to wander…” (v 13). He dared not speak of God’s purpose in calling him to possess the land. Like Adam, Abraham shifted to God the blame for his sin.
In the midst of this, God spoke of Abraham as a prophet, the first such designation in Scripture. God pointed to his priestly role: “he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live” (v 7). This was no cover up by God! Abraham’s actions could not be justified, yet God upholds His own, even in their failings. Kindly, but faithfully, God would work in the most effective way to produce the Abraham He had in mind from the failed clay that Abram was by nature.
“It is God which worketh in you…” (Phi 2:13). God does not justify or overlook our flaws. He loves us too much to leave us as we are. Kindly, gently, and faithfully, He confronts and changes us.
For Abraham, that process was costly. He soon sacrificed two sons to God’s will. After almost 40 years, he lost his beloved Sarah (23:2). But look at what God’s grace and skill have done! Now the heathen say, “Thou art a prince of God among us” (v 6 JND).
Yes, Abraham belongs on God’s A-Team, where all have feet of frail clay and a heart of refined gold.
God will send out His A-Team when the Lord Jesus “shall come to be glorified in His saints” (2Th 1:10). “What hath God wrought!” (Num 23:23), for we will be in that number!