I’ve been reading Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur, and reading about Sarah. And, of course, because she was married to Abraham, it talks about him in that chapter as well. And something hit me while I was reading. I was blown away by God’s amazing grace, which reflects every facet of His character that is good, and ultimately points to His glory. In showing unmerited grace, He was showing that He was God, and that He had the power to keep His promises, unaffected by the sinful acts of man. MacArthur says, “To this aged man who had managed to father only one son (and that by less than honorable means), God said, ‘I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come form you’ ([Genesis] 17:6, NKJV)” (page 43). He was, of course, referring to the time before the promised son Isaac was actually born. And though it’s a fact that I’ve known for a very long time, it hit me in a fresh new way today: God’s promise to Abraham in no way depended on Abraham. It didn’t depend on his faith, his action, his goodness or badness. God didn’t threaten to take it away when Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife, or even when he followed his wife’s scheme to try and bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise by sleeping with her handmaid. It was an unconditional promise. God was faithful even when the recipient of that promise wasn’t.
What blows me away is not only God’s ability to keep the promise despite human intervention, but His grace in doing so. He didn’t tell Abraham, “Forget it; you blew it. I’m finding someone else to be the father of many nations, to be the one through whose line my promised Messiah will eventually be born.” It didn’t depend on Abraham; it was dependent on God and His character alone.
Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar all faced painful consequences for trying to meddle in God’s plan. So I’m not suggesting that you and I can do whatever we want because God’s promise to love us no matter what. There will still be consequences to pay for sin, albeit that we will never face the ultimate punishment for such if we are God’s children. But what’s comforting here is that God is God and He will do what He pleases. He is perfectly capable to carry out His will in His time, even if I try to do the job myself and make a mess of things. It makes me remember that I am awfully small, and God is awfully big. And that’s a good thing to remember.