In last week’s lesson on faith, looking at Hebrews 11:7, we learned from Noah that faith in God is so rooted in a friendship with God that when He speaks, no matter what He says, you will both recognize His voice and obey without questioning. Let’s go to Heb. 11:8-10 for the first of many lessons that Abraham has to teach us:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10 HCSB)
We have to go to Genesis 12 to pick up Abraham’s story. Abram, as he was called in those days, was already an old man – 75 years of age. He lived in a very wicked place, Ur of the Chaldeans. The only things we know about Abram prior to this point in his life is his genealogy, but in Gen. 12:1 we read about God’s call: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.'”
Let’s put ourselves in Abram’s shoes, friends. Let’s say you live in Los Angeles with all of your family, when out of the blue, God tells you that you are to leave. Maybe this comes as a welcome command to you. Maybe you don’t like living in Los Angeles. But even then, it would be a bit scary. After all, you’ve never lived anywhere else! But whether you respond with joy or dread, your question is the same: “Okay, Lord, so just where is it we’re going?”
The answer? “To the land I will show you.”
Hum. That isn’t very precise, is it? But since it’s God speaking and you want to obey, you set out. Your choice of direction is somewhat dictated by the presence of the Pacific Ocean. Since you only have a Ford Explorer, and not a boat, God likely doesn’t want you going west. And since the farthest you can get without hitting water is east, you load your family into the Explorer, hitch up your 20-foot hard-side trailer, and set out eastward. But do you go due east? Or northeast? Or southeast?
You realize you are going to have to rely on God every step of the way, and this realization causes doubt to set in. What if you hear God wrong? What if your imagination or your personal desire takes over? What if???
And then you reach Las Vegas, and God tells you to stop.
“Uh, Lord??? This is Las Vegas! Haven’t you read the reports about this city? It’s even worse than Los Angeles! You certainly don’t want me to stop HERE!
But you obey. And then your father dies, and only after the funeral is over does God tell you to go on. Again, you have no idea where you are going, but your steps keep leading you eastward and northward, until you find yourself in Illinois. In fact, you are within miles of the mighty city Chicago when He directs you into a campground that offers year-round camping and tells you to buy a season’s pass!
“Here???” you cry. “So close to Chicago??? The roads are awful here, Lord! And wasn’t the weather better in LA? Oh, and Lord, I’m getting kind of tired of this trailer’s lumpy bed!”
God realizes that you are doubting your ability to hear His voice, and He visits you again: “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gen 12:7a)
“THIS land, Lord? Do my offspring WANT this land? There is so much evil here! So much violence! So many potholes!”
That might be how I would have responded, but it wasn’t how Abram responded. Gen. 12:7b records that Abram “built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” (NIV) God made Abram leave “Los Angeles” (Ur) to camp in the shadow of “Chicago” (Sodom), and Abram’s response is to worship!
That’s faith, friends! To leave your home and set out on a journey with an unknown goal, to live in a tent within sight of one of the worst cities in the known world, and in response, to worship God. That’s faith!
Why did Abram leave his home and set out on this unknown journey? Why did he stop near Sodom and there offer a sacrifice to the Lord? We’re told the reason in Heb. 11:10: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Abram did it because he knew this wasn’t the end! He knew that he was only privy to a tiny bit of the plan, but in the end, it would be a mighty plan, designed by God Himself. Abram was willing to blindly play his role so that the big picture could come to be.
Enough to ponder, friends. But do ponder this: Faith in God means we must be willing to fulfill our eternal role, even if we have no idea what the big picture might be!
Join us next week for the next lesson in Faith to be learned from Abraham.
God bless you!
(To access tne entire “Faith” mini-series, please click here.)