God told Abe to get out of town, and leave his family, his fathers house, his friends every body, but his nephew. Abe just went ahead and did as God said. This is one of the most important and dramatic moments in the history of God relationship with mankind. Abe left his old neighborhood, and everything he knew and understood well. Remember, Abe was 75 years old when he left everything behind; he went to the new land.
Abe and the Lord had a close personal relationship. Their relationship set the stage for amazing deeds and promises from the Lord, Our Father in Heaven. Their relationship is an example to us.
Gen. 15:6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abe believed the Lord; he believed what the Lord said. He just did not believe in him. People can believe in God, some heavenly being or a mythical creator, but neither know him, nor believe what he says. However, Abe believed what God said, that is, believed his promises. He believed what he could not see, for no one can see the future wherein lies the promises. Because Abraham believed God, he reckoned it to him as righteousness. Righteousness means doing right, being right before God, that is, walking in Gods way.
Why did Abe believed God? He believed the creation, the stars in the sky. If God could create the universe, He could keep any promise He would make. Moreover, as James says, he showed his faith by his works by leaving his homeland. God and Abe continue to grow in a close personal relationship; each would respond to the others response. Abe would respond by listening and obeying Gods Word because he trusted God, and God would respond by blessing Abes trust or faith. Abes trusting God, which He considered as righteousness.
Relationship with God
When a person has a relationship with God, and talks with him in, say, prayer and responds to what God says in his word, it becomes increasingly difficult to be disloyal to him. A close personal relationship, call it faith or trust, with God is a major foundation for righteousness. The term used is a breach of trust, when a person breaks faith with another. How can a person do something against the person they trust and who trusts them? Does not trust beget trustfulness? If God trusts us, because He is trustworthy, are we not building a relationship of trust and loyalty?
But something happened along the way that might be considered bad or perhaps resulting in something good if considered from a particular point of view.
Gen. 16:2 So Sarai said to Abram, Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her. And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Sarai said the Lord prevented her from having children, but she could get children through her handmaid. Note well, what Sarai said, rightly or wrongly, is not a thus saith the Lord. Remember, God made a promise to Abe, that his children would be as the stars in the sky. Perhaps, while Sarai believed what God said, she thought maybe it would not have to be through her; maybe she had her reservations. Nonetheless, she wanted the promise for Abe, if not through her. Well, Abe listened to what she said. At this point, neither one wanted to do what God said, exactly as he promised. Abe veered from the straight and narrow and had a child through Haggai.
A Time of Testing
The time that Abraham had to wait for his son was a time of testing. God will test people, not so much to see whether they will do something wrong, but rather to bring out the potential within them, that is being made in the image of God. However, while Abraham had potential, he wavered, and thus he had to wait a long time to receive the promise. When he finally received the promised child, Isaac, God still wanted to further test him because of the child gotten vis-à-vis Haggai. Using a sports analogy, he pitched a bad game; so God removed him from the lineup for a long time before he had another chance to take the mound. That gave Abraham a chance to think about what he did, and most likely to resolve to do better.
Finally, after he has Isaac for several years, God says to him, take the boy and bring him to this particular place, put him on the altar and sacrifice him. Obviously, Abraham knew that the promise would come through Isaac, whom God demanded be sacrificed. The obvious problem is if he sacrifices Isaac, there is no one through whom the promises would come and, on the other hand, if he refuses to sacrifice Isaac, he becomes a rebellious and disobedient individual. It would seem like a lose, lose situation.
First, he thought the promised would come through the maid servant; now God wants to take away his son through Sarah. Without a moments hesitation, Abraham places the boy on the altar, raises his knife to plunge it into his sons body in the sacrifice God demanded.
Gen. 22:12 He said, Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.
In his old age, it looked like he might lose the promise by sacrificing his son, but God said, I know that you fear God. Abraham passed the final and most difficult test of his life, he did exactly what God said to do and did not withhold his only son through whom the promises would come.
Learn from Abrahams Relationship with God
Now the relationship Abraham had with God is similar, although we are not close to Abrahams level, to our relationship with God. God wants to know that we know that we would not withhold the most precious thing in our lives, nothing could be more important than God. To review, Abraham left his known world, his neighborhood, his town, because God asked him. Throughout his life from that time on, Abraham, with the exception of the Haggai affair, Abraham did everything God asked of him. Finally, Abraham did not withhold his only son.
Gen. 22:16 and said, By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son,
Gen. 22:17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
Gen. 22:18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.
We see in verse 17, that God responded to Abraham by reiterating the great promise and adding a significant promise that all nations would be blessed because Abraham obeyed His voice. Remember, God only wants to bless people, whose character has developed to the point where they will withhold nothing from God and put nothing above God. To have the kind of re la-ti on ship where God is supreme, the Supreme Being Elohim, in their lives and not listening to somebody else is Gods ultimate goal for His People.
God was pleased that Abraham did what he asked him to do, and thereby gave him this tremendous blessing. Abraham and Gods relationship was not in a vacuum and important things resulted from their relationship on two parallel courses, ex-tending into the future. Abrahams son was Isaac; Jacob was his son; Jacobs children included one Joseph who might have been a touch arrogant. Joseph, thereby, antagonized his brothers who manage to get Joseph enslaved in Egypt but told their father that some animal killed Joseph. What do these events have to do with Abraham and his promise?
Joseph goes down to Egypt, and through a series of misadventures and adventures, becomes the second most important per-son in Egypt. We, of course, remember the seven years of plenty, followed by the seven years of famine. During that period of famine, the rest of the family comes down to Egypt, and the whole family remained in Egypt, which, of course, was the land Abraham had trouble with the Pharaoh in his time.
The family grew after staying in Egypt for many years until it was a great nation, but enslaved eventually, by Egypt. At a certain point, God began to set his people free to bring them into the Promised Land.
On the physical level, Abraham led to Isaac and Isaac to Jacob, aka Israel, down to the various brothers and sisters in the family. As we remember, after 400 years of being enslaved in Egypt, Moses, one of Abrahams progeny, is born. We see how Abraham, who believed God, received the promise of becoming great nation and inheriting a great land.
Promises on Another Level
Moses now begins to develop the promise on another level, a further enhancement of faith. The children of Israel trusted God when they put the blood of the Lamb on the lintels of the door gave proof of their belief in what God said, and promised. God responded by their active faith by exempting their first born from death on that Passover Eve.
As time went on the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, and eventually arrived in the Promised Land. We remember that while Israel made their extended trek through the wilderness how God increased their knowledge and faith. Step by step, the faith that Abraham had grew and evolved even spiritually in the children of Israel. We see then how Abrahams faith resulted in a great nation with great faith as well.
Through time, Israel wandered away from the faith of Abraham, and did not show that they believed God, believed his promises. They did not obey the voice of God. And, this is a lesson to us.
Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith believes God and His promises. Faith obeys the voice of God, even when we cannot see the promises. Abraham hoped he would have a son, but it was many years before the hope was realized. He hoped that this son would lead to a great nation, long before the hope could be realized.
On another Passover, Gods only begotten son, as Isaac was to Abrahams, was sacrificed. Nobody withheld the hand of the Israelites sacrificing Jesus Christ. God gave up His only begotten so that there would be life and life eternal and so that the faith of Abraham would continue and get better. Moreover, a new promise beyond the promise of just territory, the new Promised Land would be the kingdom of God, inhabited by His faithful children. The new promise for those with the faith of Abraham would be life, life more abundantly and eternal life.
So, on both levels: level 1, the children of Abraham going forth down through the ages leading to Jesus Christ; and level 2, the spiritual level, all the commandments and all the other things God did in developing the faith of Israel demonstrated by the first five books of the Bible comes from the faith of Abraham. What Abraham and God did, was not just between the two of them in a vacuum, it redounded through the ages through Israel, and later through the Christians.
Heb. 11:2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
God said let there be light; God said the various commands that created the universe.
Heb. 11:3 ¶ By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
God said. Abraham listened to what God said. And the results of Abrahams relationship with God comes all way down to today.
Heb. 11:17 ¶ By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
Heb. 11:18 it was he to whom it was said, IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.
Heb. 11:19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
So too was Jesus, Gods only begotten son, offered up. In Abrahams case, of course, God stayed his hand. In Jesus case, God allowed him to died for the sins of mankind.
Heb. 11:28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
Heb. 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
The Faith of Abraham
Israel had the faith of Abraham, when they kept the Passover. Christians have the faith of Abraham, when they drink the Passover wine, representing Jesus blood.
We see here, the power of the relationship that Abraham had with God, and how that kind of relationship continued between God and others of faith down through the ages. The faith of Abraham demands that we have the same kind of relationship with God that he had. When God hones our character, or tests us, we will have our faith increased and be a light to all.
The relationship between God and Abraham those many years ago, extends to us today. While our relationship with God is not the same as Abrahams, of course, it is as intense and powerful as his.
Heb. 11:39 ¶ And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
Certainly, we have not received the promise, the Kingdom of God. We believe God, we trust God. The key is that we trust Gods Word; we listen to him and keep His Word, not somebody elses. deceptive words. We only trust Gods Word and His promises. What he promised to Abraham leads to the Kingdom of God when you understand the history. Without Abraham, keeping the promise, there would not be a kingdom of God because there would not have been an Isaac, a Jacob or Israel, a Moses, a Joshua, a David or a Jesus.
How great a man was Abraham? Through him, all these blessings came because God had provided something better for us.
Heb. 11:40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
God is making us perfect just as he made Abraham perfect. In addition, as we continue to grow in our relationship with God, our light, too, will shine to those around us, and we will be able to continue in the great tradition of Abraham, of bringing Gods blessings not only to ourselves but to those around us.
What is the legacy of Abraham? Because he listened to Gods voice, all nations are blessed through him. As the Bible notes, all who bless Israel will be blessed. Because he listened to Gods voice, all who have his faith will be blessed with a great relationship with God continuing into the Kingdom of God forever.
God wants all of His People to have Abrahams faith and have a dynamic, powerful relationship with Him because we are His means today to bring blessings to those living in this age.