Leadership and Communication from Call of Abraham
Interactions at the call of Abraham illustrate God considers husband and wife as one and relies on husband’s leadership and effective communication with his wife to guide them toward his purpose. He spoke to Abraham alone about a mission and promise for his family and relied on him to share the information with wife Sarah to lead their unity of purpose and obedience to God toward accomplishing the mission.
We continue our study of God’s purpose for husband-wife interactions through a mini series on Abraham and Sarah. The biblical accounts of Abraham and Sarah are more often about God’s interactions with Abraham, which intertwine with Abraham-Sarah interactions to tell us about God’s view of their relationship, thus adding to understanding his purpose and expectations for husband-wife interactions and relationships. In a previous study on Adam and Eve (Union of Seamless Complements), we saw that God considers a husband and wife to be one and inseparable. We see more evidence through Abraham-Sarah interactions, based on God speaking to Abraham alone during most encounters when he provided instructions and promises directed at Abraham-Sarah family.
Our study of Abraham-Sarah interactions is divided into four parts in order to focus enough on some of the details. We learn through the four-part series that God considered Abraham leader and representative of the Abraham-Sarah union (therefore, family). Secondly, he considered them as “one in God” such that his promise to one is a promise to the union and any commitment from one is a commitment from the union. Although subtle and at times easy to overlook, the lesson about God relating to Abraham-Sarah as one appears central to his relationship with them. He spoke promises to Abraham that were really promises to Abraham-Sarah and got commitments from him that really were commitments from the husband-wife union.
He gave directions to Abraham, spoke promises to him, and received commitments from him: all on behalf of Abraham-Sarah union. His communications with Abraham applied equally to Sarah as if he spoke to Abraham-Sarah when he spoke to Abraham. For example, when he instructed Abraham to relocate to “a land I will show you” [Genesis 12:1], he was calling Abraham-Sarah to a mission. Abraham’s responsibility to obey God included effective communication with his wife so they could work seamlessly together to accomplish the mission.
Abraham-Sarah Part 1
In the first of the four-part series, we focus on “the call of Abraham”—when God spoke to Abraham about a mission and promise. The interactions convey an understanding that Sarah was a co- and equal beneficiary of the promise and shared commitment to the mission. In fact, both the promise and mission were really about descendants of Abraham’s family, therefore, could not be fulfilled by Abraham alone. Furthermore, though Sarah was not physically involved in Abraham’s interactions with God, she was party with Abraham in every case because the content of the interaction was directed at her family with Abraham as leader. She and Abraham were the foundation for a family that God launched through the interactions.
God spoke to Abraham alone but relied on his leadership and effective communication with Sarah to ensure the conversations applied the same way to Abraham-Sarah. He did not invite Sarah’s physical participation in the conversations or remind Abraham to share the information with Sarah. Their responsibility to obey God required effective communication to share understanding fully and transparently.
Husband and Wife Team for Special Mission
As we discuss in a previous bible study under Right Heart for Strategic Alliance, God often assigns missions to people with opportunities for them to team with others to accomplish the mission. He chooses a leader for the mission and provides opportunity for other potential participants to join and partner with the leader to accomplish the mission. The chosen leader receives the assignment, starts work as needed while leaving doors open for others to contribute. Other people that become aware of the mission, maybe through proximity or close relationship with the leader, are expected to recognize the opportunity and make themselves available to assist, staying close enough to offer needed assistance but far enough to avoid getting in the way. The leader and followers need to communicate effectively to share understanding of the mission and their various roles and responsibilities.
Husband-wife relationships are similar to leader-follower relationships. However, a husband and wife are much more than just two people teaming for a mission. As we discuss in Union of Seamless Complements, God uses marriage to combine a man and woman into a union of fitting complements on a mission to represent him among all creations, reproduce, and propagate human relationship with God through their offspring. A key aspect of their relationship is they are united into “one flesh” [Genesis 2:24] and, thus, are “one in God” united toward a common purpose. Therefore, when God calls one, the other is automatically also called. Their individual roles may differ in specific aspects of their mission. The man may be leader in certain things while the woman is leader in others. However, God assigns the man over-all leadership of the husband-wife union to ensure the team stays on mission and obedient to him.
EXAMPLE THROUGH CALL OF ABRAHAM We see an illustration of the husband-wife relationship through the call of Abraham. God interacted with Abraham at least four times during their transition from Harran to Canaan. He introduced the mission to Abraham in Harran [Genesis 12:1–3], spoke to him again at Shechem on their arrival in Canaan [Genesis 12:7], again after Abraham and Lot separated [Genesis 13:14], and later in a vision [Genesis 15:1–20]. The interactions focused on God’s promise to Abraham regarding a great expansion of his offspring: “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered” [Genesis 13:16]; and their ownership of the land of Canaan: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” [Genesis 15:18].
Abraham was physically alone and Sarah was not mentioned in the conversation during the interactions. God relied on Abraham’s leadership of the union and effective communication between Abraham and Sarah to ensure they shared the information and worked together seamlessly toward accomplishing the objectives of the mission. Therefore, Sarah was implicitly a party with Abraham in the interactions. She was in the conversation because she and Abraham will share the information effectively. Therefore, a promise to Abraham was equally a promise to Sarah and a commitment from Abraham was equally a commitment from Sarah.
Thus, the Call of Abraham illustrates God’s expectations for husband-wife leadership and effective communication between husband and wife.
Summary of What We Learned
God relies on a husband’s leadership and effective communication between husband and wife to guide them toward his purpose. For example, he spoke to Abraham alone about a mission and promise for his family and relied on him to share the information with wife Sarah to lead their unity of purpose and obedience to God toward accomplishing the mission.