Hebrews 11 is sort of like the Bible’s version of the Hall of Fame. As you walk the hall’s long marble corridors you see a picture of Abel on your left, offering up a sacrifice to the Lord. And there on your right is Noah, constructing a Titanic that wouldn’t sink. In one alcove you find yourself face to face with busts of Samson, Gideon, and Jepthah. As you wander a little further, one display catches your eye. It’s size alone makes it impossible to ignore. You’re standing face to face with Abraham. A little golden placard at the base of the display says “Father of Faith”.
To the side of the display is a small video screen playing the “Top 10 Moments of Abraham’s Life”. You give your attention to the screen, expecting to see one glorious triumph of faith after another. After all, this is the hall of fame. But what you see baffles you.
The documentary begins with Abraham leaving all he knows to obey the call of God. So far so good. But then you see Father Abe, quaking in his sandals, basically giving his wife to Pharaoah. Odd.
Abraham believes God and it’s counted to him as righteousness. Now we’re talking. Abraham tries to sabotage the promise of God by having a son through Hagar. That seems very un-heroic-faith-like.
Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac out of obedience to God. Now that’s extreme faith. Abraham again tries to give his wife away, this time to Abimelech.
You take a second look at the “Father of Faith” placard. Was Abraham really a faith champ? Absolutely…sometimes. But there seems to be something else bigger going on here. You watch the documentary a second time. Yeah, now you’re seeing it more clearly. Every time Abraham tried to drop a bomb on the sacred promise, God stopped him. God keeps his promises in spite of human unfaithfulness.
You flip over the golden placard and notice writing on the back. Now everything makes sense. It reads: God is Faithful.
Originally published in November, 2008.