Summary: I think we can look at Abraham’s story and see three things about his obedience that really spoke to his faith. These are three things upon which I think you and I can also measure our own faith.
In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament book of Hebrews there is one of the most famous lists in history. It is a list of Bible heroes. Big names like Noah and Moses, Samson and David. And there were lesser known figures like Enoch and Rahab, Barak and Jephthah. What was it that held all of these Biblical characters together? What was it about these individuals that put them upon this particular list? It was their faith. Each of these men and women were heroes of faith. Thus the chapter is referred to as the faith chapter.
Probably one of the premier people on this list though, one who takes up six of the forty verses, is a man by the name of Abraham. As we think of examples of great faith, through all of Scripture there is none sticks out in my mind above the example of Abraham. His life was characterized by faith.
Think about it, when we first find Abraham he is called by God to get up and leave everything he has ever known. God tells him to leave his family. He tells him to leave his friends, the comforts of his home, and the acquaintance of his culture. Now, there have been many who have been called by God to do the same thing. Every missionary that is serving on a foreign field somewhere tonight has been called to leave family, friends, comfort, and familiarity behind to fulfill God’s will for their life. And I think we all can appreciate the amount of faith that it takes to do that. But what sets Abraham apart from all those who too have answered the call? Why, when so many others have done the same thing, is Abraham regarded so highly for his willingness to step out on faith? I believe it’s because He was willing to step out without having any idea of where he was going.
Now, again, many people have done that same sort of thing. When I answered God’s call to ministry in my life I didn’t know where I’d end up. I still don’t know where I’ll preach my last sermon. I know where I’d like to, but I don’t know the road ahead. Many people have answered God’s call without really knowing where they’d end up. I think the difference is that I didn’t literally pack my bags and hit the road still not knowing where I was going. Abraham did. He got up and left family, friends, home, and culture without having the slightest idea of where he was supposed to go. He had to have faith that God was going to lead him. He had to blindly follow. And he did. He did it all at the ripe old age of 75 years young. That’s amazing. That’s incredible.
That took a great amount of faith. But that wasn’t the only trial of his faith. The Bible tells us that he believed God concerning His promise to give him many descendents. He lived in tents as a foreigner in a land occupied by many others believing that this land would one day be given to him and his descendents by God.
But then, what I believe to be Abraham’s greatest trial of faith came. He had believed God would give him an heir even to old age. He was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah was 90 when the promised child was finally born. He had had faith that God would give him a son, and God had done so. But then God did something appalling. He asked Abraham to do something unspeakable. He asked him to take that promised son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar to God. How could God ask him to do such a thing? How could He take away something that Abraham had waited so long for? How could He ask him to kill his own son?
But you know what? Hebrews 11:17-18 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, In Isaac your seed shall be called.” Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice to God, even when this was the child that God had promised to use in raising up a great nation. That took some serious faith. That took mind-blowing faith. That’s faith that I don’t think many of us have. That’s faith that stands out in the list.
This evening, as we continue our walk through Genesis, I want to talk with you about Abraham’s faith. In all of these circumstances of Abraham’s life I believe we can see a trend. As we’ve already noticed there is a great trend of faith. But I believe that if you look closer you see what it really is that proves Abraham’s faith. What is this evidence of faith? I believe it’s obedience.