Abraham's Astounding Faith
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; ... By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country ... By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, ... Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead (Hebrews 11:8,9,17,19)
Many, including myself, have thought of Abraham's faithful obedience to God in the matter of offering up Isaac as "the ultimate sacrifice". In some sense I still do agree with this thought, especially since this incident is listed in "Faith's Hall of Fame" (Hebrews 11) as a proof of Abraham's great faith. Yet, I must also insist that we look deeper into the matter. Truly great faith is more a matter of a deep relationship with God than it is of the occasional extraordinary act of obedience or of some miraculous accomplishment.
I know I have just "said a mouthful", but think with me. If it were not for the continual, step-by-step, walk with God, Abraham never would have gotten to Mount Moriah, nor would he have received his miracle of a baby boy several years earlier. For both of these things required a very profound faith-and-obedience relationship with God.
To further assist our understanding, I lean partially upon the teachings of an adult Sunday School teacher in St. Louis, Missouri, Brother Mark Russell, Jr. He said something to the effect that Abraham's faithful obedience in offering his son, Isaac, to God was but the next step of many in his relationship with God. Abraham reached this mountain peak of faith by taking one little step at a time, not by one massive leap from the bottom to the top.
There are therefore three things that I find to be astounding about Abraham's faith:
1. He believed God continually through all the ups and downs of life.
Think not dear people that Abraham always heard God's voice, saw God appear to him, or received immediate answers to prayer. We only read of a few times in Abraham's many years where he experienced such extraordinarily supernatural manifestations. It is very possible that there were more special visits from God. However, it is also very likely that Abraham faced many monotonous and even downright dark and discouraging times, just like you and I do.
2. He believed God for many years, before seeing God's promises fulfilled.
One of the greatest proofs of genuinely great faith in God is the fact that it is willing to wait without doubting God for as long as God takes to bring the fulfillment. Yes, Abraham did fall short in this in the matter of Ishmael. The Bible makes no excuse for his failure, but God does forgive when we repent and reclaim our shield of faith. This is what I believe Abraham did.
Again, in the matters of the "city whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10), his seed multiplied as the stars in the heavens, and the blessing of all nations through his seed, Abraham did not see these before his death except through the eye of faith.
3. Ordinary people like you and I may have such a real relationship with God that our faith can be of the same or even greater quality than that of Abraham's.
To me this is the most amazing thing about Abraham's faith: you and I may have it too! Let us then have this same faith that "laughs at impossibilities".
With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)
So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:9)
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Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer