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The sin of Abraham

As we drill into 7 different sins from parents in the Bible, I hope that these will serve as guard rails for us as we raise our children not to make us feel weighed down, but rather to free us to do what is right without caring what others think about our decisions because we are seeking to follow God’s leading in the way we raise our children.

Abraham is one of the most revered men of God in the whole of the Bible. He was faithful to God throughout his life, even willing to sacrifice his own, long-awaited son if that’s what the Lord required of him. You would think that his life would be a model of perfection for us as parents to follow and in many ways this is the case.

But in one way Abraham failed.

Before we dive into Abraham’s failure let’s just take a moment to pause and reflect on the grace of God. If you ever feel like you have fallen short of God’ standards as a parent (which parent hasn’t), it does not mean that you are a failure. Even if you know that your actions and choices have had an adverse effect on your children the situation is not beyond redemption.

Our desire can be to whitewash a picture of family and to view other families through the same social media filter of perfection yet all through Scripture we do not find one example of a perfect family other than the relationship of Jesus Christ who walked in obedience to the Father.

This should give us courage to press on for all that God has for us. When we recognise the failings of others who have gone before us it should inspire us to seek to please God in how we fulfil our responsibility as parents.

With this in mind we come to look at the sin of Abraham.

When Abraham moves to the Negev region, he is aware of a powerful king – Abimelech. Abraham reasons that the people of the region do not fear God and will kill him to get to his wife (Genesis 20:11) so he comes up with a plan. He tells everyone that Sarah is his sister. Technically speaking he is kind of right, but in the cold light of scripture he is trying to deceive people.

The king takes Sarah to himself and thankfully God intervenes and gives King Abimelech a dream to warn him that Sarah is married to Abraham. The Lord promises him that if he does not give Sarah back he and all his people will die.

Under such a divine confrontation Abraham gives his excuses and Sarah returns to him.

If the story were to end there then it would have been a tragedy, but not one that impacts on his parenting. But the story does not end there.

Abraham’s son Isaac finds himself in the same situation – a man with a beautiful wife in the midst of a godless people. In fact he is even facing the same king!

How does Isaac respond? He wasn’t born when his father aimed to deceive, but he must have heard the stories of his parent’s escape. In Genesis 26 Isaac, faced with the same challenge as his father, responds in the same way. ‘She’s my sister!’ He copies his father’s deception.

Isaac has imitated his father. No doubt he imitated his father’s mannerisms, faith and worship, but in this moment we see that he also imitated his father’s sin. He must have heard the stories, perhaps this kind of deception was not a one off for Abraham. Once again God’s grace steps in and King Abimelech see Isaac treating Rebekah as his wife and accuses him of endangering the whole nation by bring guilt on them all.

It strikes me that Isaac’s sin may be weighed as more serious than Abraham’s. He would have heard of God’s protection and divine intervention before. His lie is simply bigger than his dad’s – Rebekah is not even Isaac’s half sister.

Looking on to the next generation we read that Jacob’s name – one who grasps the heal – is another way of saying ‘deceiver’. He tricks his brother and his father to gain a birth right that was not his to gain.

This the most holiest of families have deception as their instinct. Even Jacob’s children deceive their father that Joseph has been killed by wild animals. This form of sin seems to be growing down through the generations.

In the words of John Wesley, ‘What one generation tolerates the next generation will embrace.’ This principle is lived out in Abraham’s family. This is one reason why we should throw ourselves on God to purify us.

Don’t blindly follow the sin of previous generations. This is perhaps even more of a challenge to those who have a great model to follow from the previous generations, meaning we have to sift through parenting we received to see how it holds up to scripture.

You can break the cycle of previous generations. When we join to Christ we come from a new blood line – one that is full of perfection and will continue forever. Do something different today, break your family mould to become more like Christ for the sake of future generations.

Just because something was accepted as normal when we were growing up does not mean it is normal for the kingdom. Indeed we will have to fight more for the areas of our lives where ungodliness has been excused, otherwise we are in danger of amplifying the weaknesses of previous generations.

Let’s take a moment to soberly reflect on our lives and ask the Lord to show us any way in which our lives have not been glorifying to him; any area where we have set the wrong example for our children.

Let’s trust Christ’s grace to cover our weaknesses and strengthen our descendants.

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