Too many Christians think of all the OT figures like George Washington. Everything they know of them they learned before puberty. They have a flannel-graph, romantic, idealistic picture of them. We wouldn’t say they were without flaw, but they must be very close. We think of Abram like we might think of Papa, or the image we had of our fathers in kindergarten. The only OT icon to escape our airbrush is David. Poor David, he is the only one in the bunch to be seen for what he really is, a justified sinner, simul justus et peccator.
If 12:1-9 provides the air to puff up our inflated balloon idea of Abraham, 12:10-20 provides the needle to pop it. Our eyes are necessarily directed to the hero of this book. For sure, Abram is a hero, worthy of emulation, but he is not the hero.
Abraham will threaten all three promises made to him, promises concerning land, offspring, and being a blessing. As you read this narrative you should realize that all your hope of redemption, the hope of reversing the curse has been funneled into this one man. If Abram destroys these promises, we are destroyed, we are cursed. Each time he threatens one of these promises I think a “Nooooo!” should be on the verge of bursting out of our heads through our mouths.
Yet the promises come out of this fire unscathed. In this entire passage God does not speak, nor is he spoken to or spoken of by Abraham. The only mention of God at all is inserted by the narrator. God was working subtly, sovereignly, and faithfully. This is how He works most of the time not only in our lives, but in all of Scripture. In the 2000 plus years of history covered so far God has manifested Himself only sparingly, like Aslan, He leaves you in suspense, wondering when He will show up. But just as you should not mistake silence for absence regarding Satan’s efforts throughout the book of Genesis (he is only mentioned in one chapter of the book), don’t think God is vacationing. He preserves and protects His promises, subtly, sovereignly, and faithfully.