God Blesses Messy People
Overall, would you say that the characters in the Bible have it all together or are a bit of a mess? If Genesis is any indication of the rest of the Bible (and it is), the answer is most certainly, they are a bit of a mess.
Adam and Eve, the first family, who literally had everything, sinned and lost it all. One of their sons killed the other. The list could go on and on. People in the Bible, like the rest of the world, are a bit of a mess.
Does this surprise you? It should. If you or I were writing the Bible, we would probably do it in such a way to show the virtues of the people. But this is not what God does.
Does this encourage you? It should. God is not about showcasing people’s morality but rather his mercy and faithfulness in spite of their immorality. In other words, our messiness serves to emphasize the immensity of God’s mercy.
We find another example of this point in Genesis 26:6-11. Isaac goes to Gerar and settles. When he gets there, he hatches a plan to protect himself and his family from the people of the land.
When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. (Gen. 26:7)
Isaac is scared of the men of the land, so he pretends that Rebekah is his sister. Now, aside from the foolishness of the plan, he is not doing a commendable job caring for his wife, and certainly, he is not trusting that God will protect and preserve him. Instead, he is scared. He fears man.
At this point, you are probably thinking, I’ve seen this movie before. And, you’re right, you have. Twice. Isaac’s father, Abraham, did the same thing on two separate occasions. (And, once he did it with some of the same people.) In Genesis 20 Abraham pretends before Abimelech that Sarah is his sister (note: this is many years later, so it’s likely not the same Abimelech, probably a son or grandson). Earlier, he did the same things with the king of Egypt (Gen. 12). In both cases, his deceit was uncovered, and he endured public shame from a pagan king. Remarkably, God ultimately blessed him in spite of his deception.
And this is what happens here. In verse 8 we read that Abimelech looks out his window and sees something that betrays the plot. The verse says that Isaac was laughing with his wife. Judging by the reaction and the word used, more is at play here than a simple joke. Most people believe that the king saw them in a way that was appropriate for a married couple and inappropriate for siblings. So he confronts Isaac. He gets a stinging rebuke from this pagan king.
So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’ ” Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” (Gen. 26:9-10)
This is not a good day for Isaac. He is more concerned about himself than he is about his wife, his hosts, and even God himself.
We might expect that God would give full vent to his anger and judge Isaac here, perhaps even through this offended king. But this is not what happens. God uses Abimelech to bless and preserve him.
So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” (Gen. 26:11)
This is supposed to get our attention. God blesses him, not because of his perfection but in spite of his imperfection.
What do you suppose Isaac’s reaction was as he heard Abimelech’s words? I would imagine a number of things would come to his mind, but certainly among them would be a sense of God’s mercy and faithfulness. This season of difficulty–which was entirely self-inflicted–was used by God to demonstrate that he blesses us in spite of our messiness.
I wonder how this truth settles with you. People think they need to do better and get better and then God will be for them. This is not what the Bible teaches. We will never be “good enough.”
Issac had to endure a famine and an uncomfortable season in Gerar to better understand the nature of God’s blessings. Sometimes God will permit you to endure a season in Gerar. You will be made to see not only the presence of your sin but also the stench of it. When you are then enveloped in the arms of mercy–even while the odor of you sin’s consequences lingers–you realize again that God blesses people in spite of us being a mess.
God uses seasons of difficulty, even self-inflicted seasons, to remind us that we can trust him. He blesses us in spite of our messiness. This is good news for bad people from a good God.
Written by Erik Raymond and taken from The Gospel Coalition