Now Sarai was barren…
The above statement is actually from the end of the previous portion (Genesis 11.30) – but it might be the very statement that we need to understand where God is taking us in His story – in this portion.
As Walter Brueggeman points out, God has chosen to put the hope of the future of His creation squarely on the shoulders and obedience of a man with no hope for a future, for “Sarai was barren.”
In fact, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in God’s relationship with humankind. This creation of His has lost sense of being the created; it has attempted not once – but now three times to undermine the true relationship of creator and created. A seeming progression of offense.
Now, God meets a man – a man of justice – a man that unknowingly has caught the eye of YHWH. This man, Abram, hears The Voice and trusts – he is obedient – he is willing to serve – he is good. Abram leaves behind his idolatrous ways and follows God into the wilderness – unknowing of the destination – following the call into a land that God will show him.
His reward for such faithfulness? Famine, his wife (Sarai) is taken, territorial disputes between his nephew Lot’s men and his own, and barrenness to name but a few things. Yet he remains faithful. This may indeed be a man that will not abandon the call – this may be a man that can uphold the ways of the LORD. Blameless.
The God who sets all things right – renames Abram and Sarai – and retells their story in only a way that the creator could reimagine. Meet Abraham, the father of all nations, and Sarah through whom this promise will come – because as we will learn in the next portion Sarah was barren.