Abraham believed God and the rest was history.
If only the same could be said for us. For whatever reason, we have a hard time believing God’s promises will come true. They could happen for others, but not for us.
Additionally, we have a hard time doing what God asks us to do. It’s either too hard, too weird, too costly or too risky. It requires too much sacrifice or too much time. “Why would God ask me to do something that makes me uncomfortable, gives me stress or makes me vulnerable?” we ask ourselves.
The uncertainty surrounding how “that thing from God” will end causes us to think he doesn’t have our best interests in mind. So we hesitate, groan and resist.
Ultimately, when we choose to not believe or choose not to follow, it’s because of fear. And so our fear, coupled with our unbelief, causes us to never move forward. Consequently, we miss out on God’s blessing.
Abraham is a classic example of someone who chose to believe. He did so despite the fact that the things God asked him to do or promised would happen were crazy. And because Abraham believed God, ridiculously tremendous blessings followed. Here are a few of his encounters with belief.
Abraham’s Challenge to Leave
In Genesis 12, God steps into one man’s life and changes everything. That man was Abraham. We have no indication that prior to this encounter Abraham even knew who God was. For him, it was like a stranger came knocking on his front door.
This is what God said,
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.'” (Gen. 12:1)
“What? Leave? Just like that?”
Isn’t that what we’d all be thinking? How many of us would forsake our home, career, or family to follow the directions of someone we’d never known or met before? It wouldn’t be easy. It actually sounds kind of crazy and irresponsible.
God must have been really convincing because that’s exactly what Abraham did. Verses 4-5 tell us he packed up his wife, all his possessions, his nephew Lot and his family, and left the land he’d always known. He was 75 years old when this happened.
It’s hard to say how Abraham overcame his fears. Maybe it was the promise God gave in verses 2-3:
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Would you move for that? Probably. But still, Abraham doesn’t have any experience yet with God following through on promises. This is their first encounter. So it makes his belief and subsequent actions all the more incredible.
Abraham Believed God for a Child
Some time later, after Abraham had settled in the land God called him to, he had another encounter with God. It went like this:
“…the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…'”
Boom! There it is. The question to end all questions. “God, about these promises.. How will I become great, become a nation, and bless others without an heir – a male child – to carry on the family line?”
God reaffirms his promise to Abraham, claiming that one day his descendants will be in number like the stars in the sky. Again we are told Abraham believed God (Gen. 15:6). And to solidify this promise, God takes Abraham through a powerful ritual and gives him a dramatic vision in a dream (Genesis 15:8-21).
A few chapters later, Abraham is confronted by two “men” who claim that Abraham and his wife Sarah will have a child. Doesn’t matter that they are both nearing 100 years old. Doesn’t matter Sarah is passed the age of having children. God’s going to do it anyway.
Maybe there were some doubts about the men’s statement, but we aren’t given an indication Abraham had them. We know Sarah did (see Gen. 18:11-15). After all, this is a crazy, don’t-see-how-this-one-is-happening promise.
But even if they doubted, they still believed. There was still faith God would fulfill his promise. And in Gen. 21, Isaac, the promised child is born.
The Resurrection of a Son
All seemed right with the world. God had fulfilled his promise in Isaac. Abraham could now sit back, relax and cash in the rewards.
Not so fast. God had yet another mind-blowing request of Abraham.
We are not told how old Isaac was in the story of Genesis 22. Maybe he was a young child, teen or young adult. Doesn’t really matter. What matters is what was about to happen to him.
“Then He [God] said [to Abraham], ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'”
Um, excuse me God…You want me to do what!?
Again, this makes no sense on the surface. For one, it seems out of character for a loving God to authorize a human sacrifice. In other places in the Bible, we read God was critical of people and nations doing this.
And two, wasn’t Isaac the child of the promise? Weren’t the blessings promised Abraham going to be transferred and fulfilled through him as the heir? That’s what God had said.
So how could Abraham do this? Shouldn’t he have been like any other parent, grabbing his child and running for the exits to protect him?
We get an interesting glimpse at Abraham’s thinking from a passage in the New Testament. Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us that Abraham believed God so much that he concluded God would raise Isaac from the dead. Now that’s belief!
The whole story is a test of Abraham’s faith. God intervenes at the last minute, keeps Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and life continues for the both of them. And through it all, Abraham’s powerful, unshakable belief is evident.
However, Abraham is probably still unaware about what his belief in God will ultimately get him.
Abraham Believed God and Received THE Ultimate Blessing
Abraham believed God for many things. It’s a character trait to admire. He reaped earthly rewards for believing God would follow through on his promises.
But they were just earthly blessings. An ultimate blessing also came as a result of his belief. To see this, let’s look at a short verse with powerful implications from Genesis 15:
“And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He [the Lord] accounted it to him for righteousness.” (v.6)
Why is this verse so important? To understand it, we must again look to the New Testament. In Romans 4:2-3, we see the Apostle Paul writing this:
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
In short, Paul is saying that faith in God has always been about belief. We are only made right before God by believing in Him.
Salvation Is Not About Works
It’s not our works that save us. No good deed can make us right before God and get us into heaven. If it were, we could claim salvation through our own actions. If Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel and ancestor of Jesus Christ, couldn’t save himself through his best deeds, then no one can.
Paul would say in another passage when asked the question, What must I do to be saved?:
“…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31)
Abraham was made right before God through belief. So are we. The promise that results from that is eternal life:
“Jesus said…’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.'”
In the end, eternal life with Jesus and following him is absolutely worth believing for.
As we’ve seen, Abraham believed God all through his life. What God required of him would be hard for any of us to follow through on. Yet here we have a man of God who set aside the absurdity of these requests and let his belief and faith guide him.
It probably wasn’t easy. Were there doubts, probably. Did he ever wonder, “God, what on earth are you doing with me?” Most assuredly.
But his belief changed his life. It changed his present destiny on earth. And, ultimately it changed his future destiny for eternity.
Believe God and the same can happen for you.
Start a Discussion on Facebook – Answer a Question or Leave a Comment Below: What lessons do you take away from Abraham? Do you think you could believe in God like Abraham believed God? What do you find difficult or challenging when you feel God calling you to do something radical for him?