Focal Passage: Gen 15:1-6; 16:1-5; 17:18-19
On Dec. 14, 2015, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. announced that Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement from the Ineligible List had been denied. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you are likely aware that Pete Rose was banned from the league for life for betting on games. For some, it is difficult to imagine that the man with more hits than anyone who ever played the game is ineligible to be considered for the Hall of Fame. But, heroes fail, even baseball heroes.
Bible heroes fail, too. Abram (later, Abraham) is called the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11), yet he had moments of doubt that led him, on occasion, to make really poor choices.
For example, when God promised to give Abram a child, from whom would come a lineage as numerous as the stars of the sky, Abram believed God’s promise (Genesis 15:5). Abraham’s belief was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Later, Abram and his wife Sarai concocted a plan to fulfill the promise of God on their own. They decided to use Hagar, Sarai’s handmaiden, as a surrogate; a decision that has had repercussions to our very day. And, even when God changes their names and reconfirms his promise to give them a child (Genesis 17:5,15-16), Abraham asks that God simply let Ishmael be the son of promise; a request God denies.
We are reminded that the most faithful of God’s people have moments of great failure. That is why Abraham’s faith being “credited to him as righteousness” is so important. God considers him righteous, based on something outside of Abraham.
It is not his moral goodness that results in the declaration, but faith in God’s promises. Indeed, it is precisely why you and I can be counted righteous, based on our trust in God’s promises to us as revealed in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is because of Christ’s perfect righteousness that God redeems us, not only from our poor choices, but from the sins that separate us from Him.