As funny as the line I used for this evening’s title is Chapter 12 of Genesis is more well known for its beginning rather than its end. God calls down to Abram who will soon be Abraham and tells him he will make him a nation. That he and all those that bless him will be bless and that all the people of the Earth will be blessed through him.
It is another reminder that God created everyone. God didn’t create only the descendants of Abraham but all people and all people are blessed. This constant and important reminder throughout this, the first book of the Bible, is extremely important. God created the heavens and the earth, then God created all humanity, then God brought a great flood but saved the one he deemed the most blameless, then the line of Noah repopulated the Earth and created all nations, and then God scattered humanity and created all languages.
Here God talks to one man and gives him a quest. This man will become a nation, be blessed, and through him all the people of the Earth will be blessed.
It is then that the story shifts a bit. Abram goes on a journey and travels through many lands. There is a great famine and he must enter Egypt. Now from later in the Bible we know the history of the Jews and Egyptians. The Jews are enslaved by the Egyptians and eventually escape when Moses parts the Red Sea. That gives a little insight on what happens next.
Abram talks about how beautiful his wife Saria is and tells her that if they are seen together as husband and wife he will be killed and she taken as a slave so he asks her to pretend to be his sister. Abram isn’t at his best here as his actions are very self serving for indeed he and Saria are seen and she is beautiful. So beautiful that she is taken and given to Pharaoh to be his slave.
God is not pleased that Pharaoh has taken another man’s wife for his own and so he curses Pharaoh and when Pharaoh finds out he is cursed he questions why Abram lied to him. It is then that he tells him to take her and go. Pharaoh has found out the truth and he doesn’t kill Abram as he feared but he lets them go which makes Abram look even worse.
The Bible is full of stories of flawed men and a flawed God. God can be vindictive, petty, and cruel and we are made in the image of God. God grows and changes throughout the Bible. Eventually becoming a God that so loves humanity that he sacrifices his only son in an echo of a story coming shortly in Genesis. God demands much of us, but more of himself. He sees and forgives our flaws, but is not without flaws himself.
For me religion is about the realization that none of us are perfect. That we all need to take time for self reflection. We need to discover our weaknesses and work on improving ourselves. We should strive to be better no matter what, because here are the heroes of the Bible being flawed, and if they are allowed to be flawed then aren’t we as well?