Rules or relationship?


Genesis 13:14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the LORD. 

Chapters 12 and 13 in Genesis are so interesting. A severe drought fell on the land of Canaan forcing Abram to take his family to Egypt. Once in Egypt Abram lied to Pharaoh saying his wife Sarai was his sister, not his wife. One would think Abram would lose favor from God because of his lying… but not so. Instead Abram leaves Egypt with more wealth than when he entered and promises from God that he and Sarai would have so many descendants they wouldn’t be able to count them all.

Why would God bring prosperity to such a flawed man as Abram? 

Abraham was a bit of a scoundrel, but there’s no doubt he placed his trust, his future, and that of his entire family in the hands of God. What I’m seeing in the Old Testament readings over the last couple of weeks is more clarity on what the Old Testament writers meant when they talked about “righteousness”. I’ve tended to think of righteousness as obeying the law, the rules, but people like Abram and King David regularly failed to follow the law – yet are considered righteous.

Seems to me “righteousness” is less about rules and more about relationship.

Both Abram and David have no illusions as to the source of their well-being, their blessing, their favor. It all comes from the Lord, not as a reward for good behavior, but as an expression of God’s love and grace. That’s a kind of righteousness that might just be possible for a sinner like me.

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