The Great Faith of Abraham (1) (Hebrews 11:8-16)
Don R. Hastings
Dade City, Florida
When we think of people who possessed great faith in God, we think of Abraham. No offspring of men has ever shown more faith in their Creator, than did Abraham. In Hebrews eleven, more verses are devoted to telling of Abraham's faith than any other person. Many times in the Bible, God is referred to as the "God of Abraham." God identifies Himself as the "God of Abraham." (Gen. 26:24; Ex. 3:6; text). Only Abraham "was called the friend of God" (James 2:23; 2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8). Abraham was "the friend of God" because when God promised, he believed; when God commanded, he obeyed (John 15:14).
God promised Abraham, "I will make of thee a great nation . . ." (Gen. 12:2). That nation was the Israelites, or Jewish, nation. The Jews took great pride in being the fleshly descendants of Abraham (John 8:33, 39; 2 Cor. 11:22). John the Baptist and Jesus taught the Jews that just being the children of Abraham would not save them, but to please God, they must have the faith of Abraham (Matt. 3:9; John 8:37-40, 56-59). Those of us today whose faith has moved us to become the children of God "are sons of Abraham" (Gal. 3:6-9, 26-29).
Abraham was the son of Terah, who was a descendant of Shem, a son of Noah (Gen. 11). Abraham had two brothers, Nahor and Haran (Gen. 11:27-32). Abraham's wife, Sarah, was also his half-sister (Gen. 20:12). He was born about 1996 years before Christ and died at the age of 175, or about 1821 years before the birth of Christ (Gen. 25:7, 8). God changed his name from Abram, which means "exalted father" to Abraham, which means "father of a multitude" (Gen. 17:5).
Abraham's great faith in God was manifested by:
His Prompt Obedience To God's Call (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abraham's call was a divine calling; no other call is as important. We have, also, a divine calling (Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 22:17). We are called through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14). Jesus said, "For many are called, but few chosen" (Matt. 22:14). Have you, like Abraham, obeyed God's call? Are you among the "called out" people of God?
Abraham did not hesitate, or delay, in obeying God's call (Gen. 12:4). If you have not obeyed God's call to give your life to Jesus, why are you waiting? We often sing the song, "What do you hope, dear sinner, To gain by a further delay? Your Savior is longing to bless you; There is danger and death in delay." Shall God's long-suffering, in providing us opportunity after opportunity to obey His call, be in vain (Rom. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:9)? God will not call you forever!
Abraham did not ask others, including his own family, what they thought of God's call; he obeyed! When we know what God commands us to do, we should do it with, or without, others approval (Matt. 10:34-39). Do not try to rationalize away God's command!
Abraham's obedience meant sacrifice. He was separated from his dwelling place, country and friends. He took Lot because Lot's father and grandfather were dead, so he must have felt responsible for Lot"s welfare (Gen. 11:28, 32). We, also, must be separated from anything that would supplant God as the center of our love and service (2 Cor. 6:17, 18).
Abraham proved his complete trust in God for "he went out, not knowing whither he went" (text). We will possess a fear of the unknown, especially if we think there is danger involved. For example, I am as bad as my children when it comes to waiting in the doctor's office and knowing there is a shot waiting for me when I get to see the doctor. Many are not willing to turn their lives completely over to God and trust His wisdom and power (Prov. 3:5, 6; 2 Cor. 5:7). We sing, "Where He leads me I will follow . . .," but do we mean it? Many insist on guiding their own lives and do so to their soul's damnation (Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23). Their philosophy is, "It is my life, I will live it the way I want." Others are willing to obey God as long as they can see the wisdom behind His commandments.
He Did Not Return To His Native Land
Upon his arrival in Canaan, he encountered many hardships. The inhabitants of the land of Canaan were hostile; a famine struck in Canaan; he and Lot had to separate; he rescued Lot from some kings; etc. He wandered about living in a tent as a stranger in a foreign land (Acts 7:5).
Even though leaving his native country was a test of his faith, remaining where God wanted him to be was a greater test of faith. Many start out following the Lord with zeal and enthusiasm, but the hardships and trials of life soon discourage them and they turn back to the world and Satan (John 6:66; 1 Tim. 5:15; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
The Lord's call to Abraham included great promises (Gen. 12:1-3). His call to us, also, includes great promises (Matt. 10:32; 19:29; Rev. 3:5). Do you have the faith of Abraham to obey God (Mark 16:16)? Do you have the faith to give your life completely to Him? Do you have the faith to remain steadfast in His service? Jesus said that Abraham was "in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:22-30). Will you be there?
Truth Magazine XXIV: 15, p. 242