Posted by: Joel | January 15, 2009

Genesis and the Patriarchs

Reading through Genesis I was struck with how gracious God really is. Sometimes in the past I have had this idea in my mind that the biblical characters of the covenant are moral models to be emulated. And in a certain sense they are, as Hebrews 11 shows. But when I read about these guys in Genesis I begin to see that they are just as sinful as I am.

Abra(ha)m: A model of faith in a large way. Left his home country and kin to follow the Lord to the land that He would show him. But in spite of the Lord`s promise to Abram that He would make him into a great nation, Abram lied in saying that his wife Sarai (Sarah) was actually his sister, even to the point of giving her away twice as the wife of another, to save his own skin. He also took Sarai`s servant Hagar and `went into her`in order to make it a reality by his own more plausible means.
Isaac: Lied to Abimelech in saying that Rebekah was his sister, to save his own skin.
Jacob: A major deceiver – taking the whole birthright thing into his own hands – twice. His house was also full of ‘foreign gods’ (Gen. 35.2).
Joseph (although not necessarily counted as a ‘patriarch’): He was an arrogant little kid rubbing his dreams of grandeur into his brothers’ faces. He was probably the most exemplary of the four, but it took being sold by his brothers into slavery, and then yet again being wrongly put in prison for some years, in order for him to be humbled and trusting enough to follow Yahweh with this whole heart.

Clearly, then as now, it is first and foremost about God’s gracious initiative as opposed to our goodness.



  1. Indeed…which makes me scratch my head in confusion when people like Richard Dawkins say the God of the OT is evil, violent, merciless, and cruel.

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