Abraham belonged to a Chaldean family, the geographic location of modern Iraq. From his place in the clan, God called Abraham to leave the country and find a new identity. Abraham was an imperfect man with no hope of raising a family with his barren wife. And yet, he became the father of nations with an endless line of descendants.
Abraham’s defects of character caused him to lie and manipulate. He lied more than once thinking it would save his hide. He grew impatient with God’s timing and schemed together with his wife Sarah to start the family tree with their servant Hagar. Ishmael was born and a rift grew between Hagar and Sarah. Later Sarah would bear Isaac, the miraculous child of a barren old woman.
It was Isaac’s turn to carry on the call to be a new family that God had given to his father, Abraham. The sins of Abraham were handed down to his son Isaac, who also lied and manipulated to avoid conflicts. Eventually he grew to face conflicts and was blessed by God.
Isaac had children, too. One of them was Jacob who constantly was at odds with his closest brother Esau. The sibling rivalry may have been an infection spread from father Isaac’s tension with his half-brother Ishmael.
Abraham’s lies and schemes found their zenith in his grandson Jacob. His very name meant ‘deceiver’. While the sins of the fathers were passed down, so was the promise. God would take Jacob and challenge him to become Israel. His changed identity would only come after struggle and responsiveness to God’s voice. Israel would become a reconciler making peace with his estranged brother Esau.
Israel’s kids became the twelve tribes of Israel. That was some family. Jacob’s sins were handed down to his sons who lied and schemed against their brother Joseph. Sin and salvation all in the same house—this was a pattern that Jesus recognized in the family-nation known as Israel. Is your family not a peculiar mix of sin and salvation living in co-existence?