The Faith of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16)
Abraham is the man who some call “the father of faith” and who the Bible uses as an example of faith in God. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all place an importance on Abraham and his descendants. Islam and Judaism focus on his bloodline, but disagree on which son of his God asked him to sacrifice—an act which he almost accomplished before God intervening. Christianity, however, differs from the other two religions in that the focus is on those who are considered Abraham’s descendants based on having the same faith in God. A look at Abraham’s life reveals a lot about what it means to have faith in God--living a life of abandonment and utter obedience with a forward-looking hope in God’s promise of eternal life.
Abraham’s faith really starts with God. God appears to Abraham (then called “Abram”—at 75 years old) and promises him that He will make Abraham’s name great, making him into a “great nation” and giving him favor (Gen. 12:2), with the ultimate goal that in him “all families of the earth will be blessed (Gen.12:3). Abraham’s response is one of complete abandonment in that he took his whole family and all his possessions wherever God told him to go. God’s promise to him seems to be fulfilled along the way as everywhere he goes, he obtains favor and wealth. God comes to him again at age 99 and promises him that he and his wife, Sarah, will have a son—which should have been impossible given their age and inability to have children (Genesis 17:1-5). In all of this, Abraham never doubted God, and he and his wife did indeed have a son—Isaac.
Abraham and Sarah loved and cherished their only son, Isaac, but one day, God appeared to Abraham and told him to go up on a mountain and sacrifice Isaac as an offering to God (Genesis 22:1-3). Abraham did not bat an eye at God’s command, but got up early the next day and went right where God told him to go. Dagger in hand, ready to slay his promised son, Abraham was interrupted by an angel sent by God telling him to not sacrifice his son, but to rather sacrifice a ram that was “caught in the thicket” nearby (Gen 22:13). God was testing Abraham’s faith and wanted Abraham to see that He is providing everything he needs to be pleasing to God. This act of utter obedience is an example and a picture of true faith in God.
Though Abraham’s life on earth essentially consisted of wandering around in tents, he was really looking for something to come in the future—the city God is building for all of those who have the same faith, characterized by complete abandonment and utter obedience to Him (Hebrews 11:8-10). I find his faith very challenging, as I reflect in my own life how I may or may not have complete abandonment and utter obedience to God. It is important to understand that God is coming to all of us like He did to Abraham, and He is giving us the opportunity to be a part of the same promise to Abraham—ultimately to be a part of God’s own family. Just remember that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6). This means without complete abandonment and utter obedience to God, I can’t be a part of His family. I want to enter into God’s city as part of His family—how about you?
Hebrews 11:13-16…AM I desiring the heavenly country, as Abraham was? That requires admitting I am an alien and stranger on earth. What does it mean to be an alien and stranger? 1 Peter 1:11-12…Abstain from fleshly lusts…21-25…entrust myself to my Shepherd while suffering. If my life is not truly on earth, who can actually harm it?! Boldly obey—Christ will not disappoint you as you walk in His victory.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!