Series: Simply Complex
Message: Complex Faith
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for the understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Genesis 18–20 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: These were pretty intense chapters. At the Duplo level, you may have the impression that the complex faith of Abraham made him a super wise Jedi who apparently needed to plead for the safety of a city. It appears that God was quite keen to destroy this city and that Abraham was the all wise merciful one who had to talk sense into God. By the end of chapter 19, the beginning of the Moabites and Ammonites is introduced. And then Abraham is once again trying to pass off his wife because he still does not believe that she can have children! I would agree that his faith is indeed complex, but the underlying question that begs to be answered is what this story teaches us about God.
This is why we have to rise to the Technic level. We remind ourselves first that Abraham still had no son through Sarah. Even with all the promises made and covenants renewed, his complex faith has him grasping at back-up plans. He thinks that maybe it still could be Ishmael despite God clearly saying that he was not the one (Genesis 17:18-19). He thinks that maybe it could be Lot, despite God clearly saying he was to have his own biological son (Genesis 15:4).
Next, remember that God heard the cry from Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20), just as He heard Abel’s blood crying from the ground (Genesis 4), and would hear the people enslaved in Egypt (Exodus) in the future).
Third, God chose to investigate. This breaks all the known models of deities who are disconnected or leaders who remain hidden away in their palaces. This God wants to show His people how He is engaged in their lives. He wants to open up the complexity of justice. Lot does not deserve to be rescued, but God rescues him all the same.
Fourth, God chose to engage Abraham in this process, because he wanted Abraham to embrace his responsibility to others. Abraham was going to fail in the next chapter—as if he has not already learned his lesson—but that is because he has placed his complex faith in his own control, so he could afford to give up Sarah again. God needed Abraham to grow up. But for the time being, Abraham’s complex faith helped to save Lot and his family. There is an echo back to the story of Noah within this story. “God Remembers” (Genesis 19:29 and 8:1). In the flood story, it was the righteous man Noah whom God remembered; in this story it was not Lot, but it was Abraham who saved Lot that God remembered. Deep within this text, the Gospel narrative is being taught. Paul would share this concept in Romans 5:15-17. This is why the Bible is simply complex.
Recalibrate: Whom do you need to become an advocate for?
Respond: Pray for the sight to see those in need and the strength to serve them.
Research: What are the reasons in the first Testament for people to cry to God?