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Gen. 25:1-18 - Remembering Abraham - Part 2
[Read part one here]
So, Abe dies at 175, and no doubt, he was one of the most important men in Scripture. And it should really encourage our hearts, and I’m going to mention this in summary, because we’ve taken more than a few months to study this man, and want us to walk away with a big takeaway from his life.
We’ve discovered that this man, this Father of Faith, this elevated guy, that man had problems like everyone else! And YET the Lord blessed him and used him in a powerful way! Why did the Lord bless him? Why was the Lord able to use this man in such a mighty way?
Was it because he was some tremendous intellect? Was it because the guy just had some mad skills, because he was great? NO!
The Lord was able to use this man, the predominant characteristic in the life of this man, was that every time he fell, he got back up again and he allowed the Lord to correct him and move him right back to square one! Every time he got off track, he got right back on track and yielded to the Lord, he learned from the Lord, and he leaned back into the Lord.
And because this was the predominant characteristic that shaped this man’s life: getting up every time he fell, getting back to God, he was brought to a place of strength in faith that we saw evident in Gen. 22 when he went forward to sacrifice his own son. And so that, as we leave Abraham, is really the difference between those who are used of God and those who are left unused.
We all screw up, we all mess up. James tells us this in 3:2 - “We all stumble in many ways.” If we desire to grow in God, to be used of God when we blow it, and we will just get back up, offer that broken moment to God, and we move on. And that becomes the pattern of our Christian behavior. Not falling under condemnation, not hearing the voice of the flesh or the devil.
We’re gonna blow it. 1 John 1:8 - “He who says he is without sin is a liar.” When we can continue to get back up and offer those broken moments to the Lord, He will use us mightily. And Abraham’s life shows us that!
Regardless of the many flaws, Abe had, more than half the world has judged him “Great.” Jews, Muslims, and Christians call him “father” in some respect. Jews, Arabs, and many Bedouin tribes trace their physical ancestry to him.
Christians follow the reasoning of the Apostle Paul who called Abraham “the father of all who believe.” (Rom. 4:11). But should we call him great?
In the N.T., the writer of Hebrews gives us a summary of Abraham’s life, and in the span of about twelve verses, he makes a pretty good case for this Patriarch’s greatness. Hebrews 11 has been called the “hall of faith.” Beginning with one of the first people on earth, the author traces the essential quality of faith through Hebrew history, highlighting 10 great men and women. Abraham receives extended treatment as the writer follows his spiritual journey through its heights, down into its lows, and back up again. And Abraham comes out smelling like roses!
The author begins with Abe’s high points, the first of which is this:
“When he was called, he obeyed.”
The passage opens with these words: “It was by faith that Abraham...” (Heb. 11:8).
Those words, BY FAITH, are the most important part of Abraham’s story. He responded based on belief - not because he could see what was ahead, not because he had an itinerary of his future, not because he could calculate a return on his investment for this venture.
“By faith” means he willingly exchanged the known for the unknown - all because he trusted God.
“God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as an inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” (Heb. 11:8).
Abraham didn’t follow the Lord’s instructions because he had no other options or because he thought it would make him wealthy. He already had a good life in his own home town and had every reason to stay there. By the time he got this call from God, he lived in Ur of the Chaldeans for 75 years!
Too many 75-year-old’s in our day think it's a risk to step off their front porch and take a long walk or go to the store alone. God called this 75-year-old man and his 65-year-old wife to pack all their things, put them on carts, and leave everything they knew behind - including their extended family - in order to go after an unknown, sketchy future.
Think of all Abraham didn’t have!
- No precise destination
- No map or GPS
- No travel agency
- No AAA membership
- No insurance
- And no written contract promising safety.
He had no security team - and as a wealthy man, he could easily have been robbed. No hotel accommodations. No prayer support from home; everyone he knew worshiped idols.
I think we can all agree that most all of us wouldn’t even consider a following like this! If God wants to command us to go somewhere far from home, we at least want a map! But God responds: No, I want to cultivate your faith in me, so I’m holding back all the details. You won’t know ahead of time what you're going to encounter, so you’ll have to stay close to me.”
Great rewards await us if we obey without knowing all the details. I think this is a principle God wants each of us to experience. I think it's safe to say that in ministry in general we are waaaayyyyy to detail oriented, especially in our Churches.
When that happens, when we have to have all the details figured out and timed down to the last second, then it is all us and there is no work or move of the Holy Spirit allowed to happen.
Learning to trust Him is like making a journey step after step. When we trust, we receive unexpected blessings. This strengthens our confidence and inspires us to trust God again as we take another step. It isn’t complicated, but it goes against our nature. Unfortunately, faith is a hypothetical concept for many people.
Most of us never experience the joy of this faith journey because they won’t even take the first step without knowing exactly where they’re going. But if we know where we’re going and have all the details, we don’t need faith, and we will never experience its rewards.
God wants us to grow in faith, not only because we need Him, but also because it's good for us. It stretches us beyond our comfort zone. WAYYYYYY beyond! We need to know that when God calls us to something he will give us what we need to succeed. If God thought it up He’ll power it up.
My wife and I have made several moves in the last 10 years. Every one of them led to a future we couldn’t have anticipated, with challenges and rewards we never could have imagined.
We look back at the last 10 years and we say: “I’m really glad we did that.” Was it easy? Heck no!!
But trusting God never fails to satisfy. And the rewards along the way are mind-blowing!
Join us next week for the conclusion to the life of Abraham. Blessings to you all.