Abraham: Treasures Hid in Earthen Vessels

Abraham’s life is a great example of the principle of brokenness in the life of a believer. His life, although marked with the footprints of human weakness, was a life from which ascended some of the sweetest worship the Father ever savored. As a result of Abram learning his own weakness and inability, God brings forth a life of faith; a man who would be the father of the faithful.

The Patience for Faith

In early days, Abram was convinced that in order to protect his well-being, he needed to engineer a way to cover up who he was and who his wife was. He could not rely on God to protect Him and to show him favor with Pharaoh. Yet God patiently waited.

As he grew older, Abram once again was convinced that in order to ensure the plan of God for his life, he would need to take his own steps. Enter Hagar. The man with the promise of progeny fresh from God once again turns to an Egyptian (worldly) solution. Hagar bears him a child, but God’s promise is not fulfilled in the illegitimate Ishmael. Abram realizes this principle working in his life: God will bring about His purpose in His way. What He says He will do, and my doubting His ability is always sin and loss.

Does this sound familiar? Does this principle reappear as you read through your Bible? Does it reappear as you live your life? Over and over, we find individuals like ourselves who sin the sins of doubt and fear in the face of God’s clear promises. In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus states that the needs of the Christian will be abundantly provided for. Over and over again He proves Himself worthy of that promise. He commands us to take no anxious thought for the morrow. In the face of these promises, and in the face of the testimony of the flowers of the fields around us arrayed in all their splendor, we hold back from Him because we feel there is no apparent way He can do what He has promised and purposed for us.

The Paradox of Faith

Brokenness becomes a key principle in Abram’s life. As he understands his brokenness in terms of his own inability to walk without faltering, his dependence on his own strength begins to dissolve, yielding the development of the spiritual muscles of faith in his life. The paradox is that these muscles depend on human weakness for their growth. Our Father gets no pleasure from our sin and failure, but He waits for the softening and awareness of His “better way” that comes out of those lessons in our human failure. God patiently waits as Abraham learns the secret of surrender to Him. When Abraham is willing to accept God’s ability to fulfill His promise, Isaac is finally born. Just when you and I would say that their opportunity for bearing a child into the world had past its window of possibility, it happens. There is little that is more fulfilling than when someone says a thing cannot be done, seeing God actually doing it. Just after Sarai laughs at God, she starts to notice changes in herself. Physical changes, yes, but spiritual ones more importantly.

The Proving of Faith

Does the surrender to God work out in their lives? A period of joy and blessing blossoms in Abraham’s life as Isaac grows; in him Abraham looks upon the living proof that God is faithful to those who trust in Him. But as we read through the life of this father of the faithful, we know that over this sunny plain a storm cloud is forming. Once again God’s plan comes crashing into Abraham’s comfort zone. He is to take his son and offer him up to God. Could God possibly ask me to give the very thing in my life that His plan hinges on? Will he ask me to offer my Isaac? Yes He will.

One must wonder what took place between the nighttime dream and Abraham rising early in the morning. He likely didn’t roll over and go back to sleep. In those hours between his visit from God, and his early departure for Moriah, Abraham may have wrestled with God. Perhaps he wrestled with his own inability to offer Isaac. Perhaps he questioned God’s certainty of His plan for his own life and for that of Isaac. We see this willingness to question God in Abraham’s prayer for Lot in Sodom. We see this cherished depth of fervent prayer not only in Abraham’s life, but also in the life of Christ when He bows on His face in the garden to explore the depth of the valley with His Father. “If it be possible … nevertheless.” There is no sin in the “if it be possible,” and there is pure worship in the “nevertheless.” With all of Job’s deep questions, God says he sinned not.

Abraham has learned surrender. He rises in the morning and makes his way to the mount. God can fulfill his promise. What will happen this day will bring glory to God. “I and the lad will go yonder and worship … and come again.”

The Prosperity from Faith

Child of God, let the growing realization of your own weakness soften you and develop in you the divine strength of faith. God does not want your sin, but He wants you to understand your own weakness. His strength becomes perfect in weakness. Bring your weakness to Him, and you will open yourself to the opportunity to see the power of God explode in your experience.

Open yourself to Him, leave no compartment closed. Wrestle with Him. Leave no question unasked of Him; leave no area of your relationship with Him unexplored. You will falter. You will fail. But in this process, you will worship. In this you will be broken and what is in you will beam forth. Unhide the treasure.