Summary: God chose Abraham to father a nation. He didn't always get it right. But he, along with his wife Sarah, teach us valuable lessons: to trust in God's sovereignty, to wait for God's timing, and to follow God's leading as we walk by faith.
Blessed to be a Blessing
Do you ever wonder why God seems to bless some people with extra helpings of blessings? And some people seem to sense more easily how God wants to guide them, how God wants to lead them? Abraham was such a guy. The Bible’s “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews chapter 11 lists him and his wife Sarah as heroes of the faith.
In fact, today’s story helps to reverse the curse of last week’s story of the sin of Adam and Eve. Today’s story introduces a promise, a blessing, hope for the future. For through Abraham, God promises descendants, land, blessings, and fame. Bible scholars call this the great Abrahamic Covenant. God will repeat it to Abraham, as he will to his son, Isaac, and grandson Jacob, and later to Moses. God is creating a nation, a people of God. And it all hinges on one person’s commitment to believe him, to follow him, to obey him. That is why Abraham is a pillar of faith, a role model for us. That is why the New Testament mentions him some 80 times, more than any other Old Testament character, and why Paul tells Christians they are the true descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9). I want to highlight three life lessons I learn from Abraham: to trust in God’s sovereignty, to wait for God’s timing, and to follow God’s leading. First, Abraham teaches me to...
1. Trust in God’s sovereignty. God was asking a lot of Abraham. He was asking him to leave behind his homeland, his job, his people, all he had ever known, and to follow God without knowing exactly where he was going! It reminds me of going off to basic training, doesn’t it? Or if you’re the spouse, marrying someone in the military. Your whole life is about to change, and you have absolutely no idea how, but if you’re a believer, you’re trusting God to guide through the whole process. Abraham had to trust that God was “sovereign;” in other words, that God was in control, that God knew what he was doing and was strong enough to bring it to pass.
In those days, one’s family god was tied to a geographical area. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abraham’s father’s family practiced idolatry, the worship of false gods. Evidently, the one true God wanted Abraham to make a clean break from his past where he could start fresh in his relationship with the Lord. So God said, “It’s time to move away from all that is familiar, all that is safe, to trust only in me.”
Now change is hard, unless it’s your own idea. Whether you’re changing from working to retired, or from living alone to living in a close community, or changing from married to widow/widower or single again, or changing from healthy to more limited in what you can do, change is difficult!
And change is everywhere. You can’t escape it. Max Lucado quips, “If you’re looking for a place with no change, try a soda machine.” Change hits us whether we want it or not. And it brings fear, insecurity, sorrow, stress. So, what do you do when you’re overwhelmed with change? Look up! Hold onto Jesus who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Everything else changes, but not him. Trust in God’s sovereignty. God is still under control. God is still on the throne. Paul writes about Abraham, in Romans 4:20-21:
"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Abraham just held onto God. Everywhere he went on this mysterious journey for God, Abraham built altars. He worshiped the God behind the change, the God who guided him through it, the God who stayed constant in every change. He trusted in God’s sovereignty. God is in control. You and I can trust in that as well. And secondly, we need to ...
2. Wait for God’s timing. Now this was a tough lesson for Abraham and Sarah. He was 75; she was just a kid at age 65. And this was the couple God said would parent a nation? Even back then, with longer life spans, they were quite advanced to have children. Yet, God would wait some 25 years before keeping his promise of a child!
God is never late, but he is never early either! God is right on time. The Greek word for God’s timing is “kairos” time, which is sometimes interpreted as the “fullness of time,” as in Romans 4:4, “In the fullness of time, God sent his Son.”
God’s timing is not our timing. The Bible says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). An economist who read this passage was quite amazed and talked to God about it. “Lord, is it true that a thousand years for us is like one minute to you?” The Lord said yes. The economist said, “Then a million dollars to us must seem like one penny to you.” The Lord said, “Well, yes.” The economist said, “Will you give me one of those pennies then?” The Lord said, “All right, I will. Just wait here a minute.”