But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Not long ago, I saw one of those hokey little social media “signs” that are shared around, titled something like “Biblical Marriage.” It was covered in a variety of what I would call bathroom-sign-figures of men and women and included such arrangements as Man + Woman + Female Slave and Man + Woman + Woman, among others. What I found so sad about this was that so few people seemed to have a clue how to deal with that post. Non-believers, of course, ran the gamut from the expected choruses of, “Oh, yeahs” to comments such as “Hmmm…. interesting.” But it was the comments from the Christian community that broke my heart. So many simply sputtered and fumed over the silly thing, but in the (admittedly) few comments I read, I saw none that shed any glimmer of truth on it.
The truth is that the fathers of the faith are not men to be emulated.
Their stories are not given to us as examples for how to live (or for that matter, how to marry), nor are they placed in the Scripture as shining stars of perfection. Indeed, if you read their stories, it is the bitter reality of their failures and faults that is most notable. This is as it should be, for those stories serve a twofold purpose. First, they are historical, and as such they are not glossed over, polished up to perfection, and served as flawless main courses of faith. Actually, it is their obvious defects that bring me to my second point: Their stories are also told to demonstrate the absolute failure of humanity to achieve freedom from sin despite valiant efforts. They display, not perfection, but rather of how even the best among us go wrong.
The forefathers, you see, all sinned. Not a single one of them managed to avoid the pitfalls of poor choices. Abraham lied about his wife. Twice. And he and his wife concocted an insane attempt to “help” God provide the promised heir by sleeping with a slave named Hagar. We can go on: Isaac had a favorite son. Esau disrespected his parents. Jacob manipulated his brother, deceived his father, and married two women (who, by the way, gave him no end of grief with their rivalry. Read it for yourself and try to imagine living with that. I am a woman, and I can still only say, “Oy!!”).
And those are just tidbits of three life stories. We could go on: brothers selling brothers into slavery, sons sleeping with their father’s concubines, murders, rape, incest, idolatry… even David, called by God Himself as “the man after My own heart,” committed adultery, tried to cover the resulting pregnancy with deception, and failing that, committed murder in an attempt to conceal his sin. And the legacy of wrongdoing just keeps on going.
Until Jesus, that is. You see, those guys aren’t held up in the Scriptures as examples. They are held up merely as human. They made mistakes. They committed sin. None of them could, by their goodness or piety, save themselves. Their stories are told to us in part to show us our great, grievous need for a Savior.
Only Jesus lived as a Man, tempted in every way yet only He never fell into sin. Only Jesus was able to offer Himself as ransom, if you will, for a debt we could never afford to pay. Glory to God, the story does not end there! He also took His life up again and now lives, interceding on behalf of those who believe and choose to follow Him.
There is so much more to this story; this is but a glimpse. But I daresay it is a glimpse in the right direction. If you are searching the Bible for examples of how to live, forget the heinous mistakes of the forefathers. Look to them for examples of true contrition and repentance after the error, perhaps. But if you are looking for perfection, look only to the person of Yeshua, the one we now call Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21