Submission and Obedience

Abraham Believed God--Part 1

Romans 4:3 says,"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

Abraham believed God. This is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible!

Abraham, a certain man.
Believed, a specific action.
God, the One worthy of our faith.

Most of my life those words have been in my catalogue of familiar verses about faith. It has resonated when I heard it read. But only recently did it take on new meaning when the Holy Spirit quickened it. What did Abraham believe and what did he do about it?

That wonderful revelation about Abraham demanded closer investigation into the Old Testament, again to familiar events, but now seen in new light.

Abraham is first mentioned in Genesis, where his name is still Abram. He was a man, probably wealthy by that world's standards, living in Mesopotamia or the Fertile Crescent. People worshipped idols, other gods. They were pagans.

Yet, one day God spoke to Abram and said:

"Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you;"
and I will make you a great nation,
and I will bless you, and make your name great;
and so you shall be a blessing;
and 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 will be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3.

In a nutshell,God commanded: "GO FORTH" and "I WILL." A command followed by promises for Abram's obedience. And that's where Romans 4:3 comes in, "Abraham believed God."

Did God's promises sound too good to be true? Oh, yes! Was it scary to leave all and head west in order to realize the promise? Oh, yes, again! Especially because Abraham's father, Terah, had moved his family in the same direction, but settled in Haran, far short of his goal. He traveled only 660 miles before calling his trip off and putting down stakes in Haran. Had God also called Terah to the same far distant land before this, but had Terah failed to pursue to the end? The account in Genesis 11 implies that that is a probability.

But here was his son, Abram, to whom God spoke after Terah had died...and Abram believed God. He believed Him completely. How do we know that? Verses 4-5 of Genesis 12 say Abram gathered his immediate family, including his nephew, Lot, all his servants and goods they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for an unseen destination. Hebrews 11 further elaborates on Abram's journey, saying he went out, not knowing where he was going. That takes real faith!

Hebrews 11:1-2 defines the kind of faith Abram had like this: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval."

What an illustration of believing faith! Probably Abram's neighbors laughed when he told them of his call from God and his determination to follow God's will. Undoubtedly, some said he was crazy. There may have been a few who wished they had the bravery of Abram, so they, too, could follow a call from God. The Bible doesn't say. It does show that Abram packed and left Haran with all his household in tow. His faith in God's call was obvious to all who watched, regardless of how foolish it looked to most of them!

What a picture Abram is of a person today who is basically pagan and a worshipper of things in the world...until the Holy Spirit tugs at their heart and says Jesus is the One who will forgive their sins and wash them clean if they will give Him their heart. That is a decision made in a moment between God and the individual. But what follows is the change of direction in their life from that time forward. God says to forsake the world and all its ties, even to relatives and all their family name implies, and they obey Him.

James, Jesus' brother, illustrated believing faith this way: "But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.'" James 2:18. Abram's demonstration of his faith by leaving Haran pleased God!

It is not those who begin the race who are declared the winner, however! It is the one who continues the course to the end, who crosses the finish line and breaks the tape in their plunge to victory.

When the Bible says Abram set out for Canaan, it gives no mileage information. Without the conveniences of trucks or cars, hotels or motels, public safety officials to protect along the say, he and his entourage walked, yes, walked 7569 miles from Haran to Canaan! Compare that with the driving distance from New York City to San Francisco, which is 2902 miles. It equates to walking from NYC to SF and back two and a half round trips! What a journey! All on foot. Yes, they rode camels, but that becomes wearisome, too. Along the way they had to stop and prepare meals, feed the livestock and pitch their tents for the night! And probably fend off robbers who tried to make an easy strike! It was not an easy trip.

Abram was determined to obey God! He didn't flinch about the distance or the ruggedness of the unpaved route. Or the thieves and hoodlums ensconced along the way. He followed God's command. And, the entire company finally arrived at their destination.

Abram's heart-set to follow God is what God heralds in His word as His example of faith. Faith in action! It took Abram years, YEARS, not days or weeks, to accomplish what God called him to do. By the time Abram and company arrived at Canaan, God knew He had found and tested a man He could trust.

Once in Canaan, Abram came to the oak of Moreh. Moreh means 'teacher'. Probably the tree was a sacred spot for the inhabitants of the land. Abram's approach to it and then God's appearance there cleansed it of any pagan significance and power. It was here at the oak of Moreh that God appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." Right there Abram built an altar of worship to the LORD who had appeared to him. Note: he built the altar not because of what God promised to him, but because God had APPEARED to him. Back in Haran Abram had only heard His voice. Now he saw God, and God became precious to Abram for His own sake. God reveals Himself to the obedient who prove their love by their consistent actions.

Scripture says elsewhere, in the New Testament, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Had Terah been called? We don't know, but he certainly didn't finish the trip if he was. He was called, but that's where he stopped, in Haran.

On the other hand, Abram was called and walked and walked in direct response to God's voice. It was after his arrial to the spot God chose that God gave him the promise, "I will give this land to your descendants." Abram was chosen to receive the promise because he walked---he obeyed God's voice as far as the command took him.

God has called you, dear reader. Have you stayed true and walked and walked according to what God said to you? Do not grow weary. You are proving your faith and obedience. When God knows He can trust you, He will give you promises and verify them by revealing Himself to you. He Himself is worth the expectancy! Press forward. He is waiting for you!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®
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