Saturday, June 29, 2013

Faith to Obey, or, Worship on a Promise

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

One of the first bible figures that we hear of with respect to their faith and trust in God is Abram (better known as Abraham). But even before Abram heard the promise of God explained when God established his covenant with him (Gen 15:1-6, Heb 11:2, 8-12), Abram was a man of faith, as I talked a bit about here. Now, we'll look at Abram's faith in how he responded to God's call.

Abram was of the family line of Noah, ten generations down. At the time when he was born, Noah and the flood would have been a distant memory, almost like a family legend. In all that time between Noah and Abram, we hear of no one to whom God has spoken. When God speaks to Abram in Genesis 12, when he calls Abram, this is the first time that we hear of God speaking to anyone in ten generations. Ten! So it's probably safe to say that hearing from God probably came as a surprise to Abram.

And when God spoke, boy, did he speak! God calls Abram with very specific instructions. The first part of the call is as such: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you." Abram was being told to leave everything that he knew: his homeland, and his extended and his immediate family. Moreover, he was being told to leave them all to go to a strange land, and God didn't even tell him where he was going beforehand! On his journey, Abram was expected, or better yet, required to be totally dependent on the voice of God to guide him to the land that he should go to.

The next part of the call alluded to the promise that God makes him, which later would be a covenant between God and Abram and his descendants. "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing." The promise of God was threefold: (i) long-lasting, heritable greatness (a great nation), (ii) the blessings of the Lord, and (iii) personal greatness. And that greatness, that blessing, was for a purpose: so that Abram could be a blessing to others. But God did not give Abram any specifics on when, where or how this would happen, or even why he chose Abram. Considering that Abram was already seventy-five years old, this was a big promise that God was making. At 75, he did not yet have any children, his wife was barren, in fact, and he was a little old to be receiving promises of future greatness.

The third part of Abram's call expands on the second part: "I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God's words to Abram shows that this promise is far-reaching: not only are there consequences (good and bad) for people that Abram may encounter, but every clan, every nation will be blessed because of Abram, and because of Abram's faith. This is one of the first hints that we have about Jesus (who descended from the line of Abraham).

But Abram did not question God's promise for what seemed like an impossible, or at the very least, an improbable future. What we see next is that Abram went, as the Lord had told him, taking his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot. With their possessions they set off to the land of Canaan, and when they got there, the Lord tells Abram "To your offspring I will give this land." Abram does not respond with any questions or comments, but builds an altar in that place to worship the Lord. Abram didn't worship because he had received anything from God, but rather he worshiped God on a promise. That is some faith to say, I don’t have any of what you promised, and I don't know exactly when or how it will happen, but I believe you, God, and I believe in your power to do as you have said, and thus, I will obey, and I will worship you.

Be blessed and shine in faith!

p.s. I couldn't choose between those two titles!


  1. Our Women's bible study is studying Genesis and you blog was spot on. I enjoyed it!



A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23