I have never been a “morning” person. At times I wish I were. Without an alarm clock pounding my eardrums, I can easily sleep much longer than I should. I just don’t naturally wake up early under normal conditions. If, however, the day promises something out of the ordinary and pleasant (e.g., the beginning of a vacation), I’ve been known to wake up before the alarm clock goes off. As hard as it normally is, the prospect of an unpleasant day makes getting up that much more challenging and pulling the covers over my head that much more alluring.
That’s one component of Abraham’s faith that makes it so amazing. There are three instances in his life in which the Bible says that he arose early in the morning – and he knew on all three of those days that what he had to do would not be pleasant. Yet, instead of hiding under the covers, he got up early to face each day.
Sodom and Gomorrah
God left no doubt regarding the evil character of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:13; 18:20; 19:13; 2 Pet. 2:7-8). Though he had been patient with them, God’s longsuffering finally reached its righteous end. When he told Abraham of his plan to destroy the cities of the plain, the faithful patriarch interceded on behalf of his noble nephew, Lot, who lived in Sodom (Gen. 18:22-33).
God promised Abraham that he would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous souls could be found there, but it was not to be (Gen. 19:13). God rained fire from heaven and engulfed in his wrath those sinful cities.
Note carefully how Genesis 19:27 begins, “And Abraham went early in the morning” to inspect the damage. There is little doubt that Abraham feared Lot would suffer the same fate as the wicked. Abraham knew that the cities were overcome with iniquity. When he spoke with God earlier, he didn’t seem confident that God would find the agreed-upon ten righteous souls that would have spared them. That deep anxiety for the welfare of his kinsman and the nagging feeling that it might be Lot’s last day did not make for a pleasant morning. Still, Abraham arose early to face the challenge.
Hagar and Ishmael
Moses records in Genesis 21 the joyous fulfillment of God’s promise to bless Abraham and Sarah with a son through whom God would establish Abraham’s lineage and bring the Messiah into the world. Isaac brought laughter and joy into the lives of his aged parents (21:1-7).
But Sarah’s animosity toward her handmaid, Hagar, who had previously given Abraham a son, intensified. Sarah demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away (21:8-10). Even though Ishmael was not the son of promise, he was still Abraham’s son, and the thought of sending him away “was very displeasing to Abraham” (21:11). But God counseled the patriarch to do as Sarah requested (21:12-13). His response? “So Abraham rose early in the morning” and sent Hagar and Ishmael away (21:14).
While Isaac, the son of promise, was still a young boy, God tested his father (Gen. 22:1) by instructing him to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Abraham had waited long for Isaac to be born. The boy brought him great joy. And now God commanded him to take his life. How did he respond? “So Abraham rose early in the morning” to obey the Lord (22:3). His confidence that God would provide another sacrifice (22:8) or that he would raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19) probably tempered his emotions somewhat. But surely no one would argue that it was a pleasant morning.
Abraham, no doubt, arose early to some wonderful mornings. But the three above are the only ones specifically mentioned in the Bible. How brutal they must have been! How tempting it might have been for him to keep rolling over and sleeping just a little longer. Yet, instead of hiding under the covers, he rose up early and met the challenges of the day.
Life brings with it many unpleasant days. But the with the help of God and the faith of Abraham, we can throw off the covers, confidently rise from our beds, and face what each day brings. Regardless of what today brings, it is still a day created by the Lord, and in it, we have plenty of reasons to rejoice and be thankful (Psa. 118:24; 1 Thess. 5:18).