Abraham led an extraordinary life and became the father of the Jewish people (and eventually Jesus) and the spiritual father of all believers. Galatians 3:7
The crux of Abraham’s life was this, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 3:4 Abraham made mistakes but when it came right down to it; he believed God. His belief led to obedience. Obedience led to blessing. Belief is virtually the same as faith. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13 Notice, faith comes first. Love is definitely the greatest of these three virtues but faith comes first.
If the grace of God is our ‘boat’ of salvation well then faith is the motor. Without it we stay stuck. Without it we cave. In the armor of God, faith is the shield. We can not make any sort of progress spiritually without dealing with fiery darts of doubt aimed right at us. We need that strong faith as our shield so we can keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One of my favorite prayers is this, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” from Mark 9. Life is tough. Sometimes there aren’t easy answers. The Bible is a lamp not a floodlight. Sometimes we have to keep moving forward when, Like Abraham, all we are going on is faith and promises. Sometimes God puts something in our heart to believe for but no one else is going to see it. Sarah (Abraham’s wife) laughed at the promise. It still happened, of course! Abraham had the faith and he received the promises. Sometimes we are going to have to have faith for the hope and dreams God has put in our hearts, when people may laugh or roll their eyes. Shake it off. Let it go. Be gracious but don’t let anyone talk you out of your God-sized dreams.
I love that Abraham’s story was not ‘airbrushed’. He made mistakes. He kept going around telling people that his wife was his sister; basically throwing her under the bus to protect himself. Nice. Sarah ended up in two harems because of Abraham’s ‘fib’. (If I was Sarah I would have throttled him right there!) Abraham messed up. He was obedient to follow God into the promised land as a foreigner but he didn’t trust that God could or would supernaturally protect them there. I love that God’s grace and His plan supersedes our failures. God intervened twice and saved Sarah. He had called this couple and nothing was going to change that. Sarah became the mother of Isaac- and eventually Israel.
After 25 years of waiting and a few big mistakes *ahem Ishmael ahem* God did come through. They conceived Isaac when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90! Sometimes God makes us wait until all natural hope has long since passed. That is when he gets the most glory. Isaac was the child of the promise. He was born to a barren woman long past menopause. That is just how God works. Lesson- lift your chin, renew your faith; it is never too late.
God wasn’t done though. He put Abraham to the ultimate test. He called Abraham to sacrifice his unique and beloved son. We have the benefit of knowing how the story ends. Abraham didn’t. Though he trusted God so much that he was willing to obey no matter what. He was just about to go through with it when God intervened- “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12
It was a kind of prototype. It mimicked what would happen many years later outside of Jerusalem. When God would provide a sacrifice, His Son, except that they would go through with it.
Abraham was an ordinary man but his life was marked by remarkable faith and obedience. Thousands of years later his life still echos through time. God promised, “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18
Through our faith every other spiritual blessing flows. Lack of faith is a sin, or at least it leads us into sin. Look at the original fall into sin. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and doubted what God said. Don’t we still do the same thing today? When we let doubt penetrate our hearts; when we doubt God’s intentions, character, or love; we effectively lower our shield and leave ourselves wide open to attacks from the enemy.
We must remember that even faith is a gift from God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–” Ephesians 2:8
In this journey of life, faith is what carries us through. Miracles happen when we walk by faith. Mountains move. We inherit the promises of God. Our impact stretches far beyond what we can see and echos into eternity… and nothing is impossible.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9