Summary: A message that looks at the faith of Abraham
Today we are going to begin a series that explores what type of faith we should strive to attain. Throughout this series we will be looking at different people who are mentioned in the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11. Each of these individuals displayed what we would term an unbelievable faith. We will read what the writer of Hebrews says about them and then explore their lives. The first person we are going to encounter is a man by the name of Abraham. Hebrews 11 devotes more space to discussing Abraham than anyone else. This seems to be quite proper since other Biblical writers hold Abraham up before Christians as the main model of faith. Many of us might think that Abraham should be the president of the Optimist club. God made a unbelievable promise to Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.” So…what’s so unbelievable about that promise? Well Abraham’s wife, Sarah had never had a child and she was sixty-five years old. At the time Abraham received the promise he was seventy-five years old. The odds are not exactly in favor of this coming to pass. To make matters more interesting it would take twenty-five more years before the promise would be fulfilled. Why does Abraham have a faith that we all wish we had? Because he placed his faith in God to deliver on a promise, that went against all human logic. Let’s examine Abraham’s life and his faith and see what we can learn from his example. You can follow Abraham’s story beginning in verse one of Genesis 12.
I. Abraham trusted that God would provide when he was called to pack up his belongings and move.
A. God’s call for Abraham to move was challenging for several reasons.
1. Abraham was a very wealthy man and he had a lot of livestock and possessions.
2. Abraham was seventy-five years old; can you imagine how difficult it would be to uproot everything after being in one place for so long?
3. Abraham was leaving an area that was extremely advanced culturally.
4. Abraham decided to move his extended family and all their possessions with him as well.
5. Perhaps the most difficult part of the move was the fact that Abraham had no clue where he was going.
B. Abraham’s faith was shown through his obedience to God.
1. Abraham’s obedience was immediate. This is shown in the Greek by the use of the present participle which reflects this idea of immediacy, “While he was being called,” not “After he was called,” as the aorist participle would have suggested.
2. Genesis gives the same impression of immediate obedience. The very next words after God’s call and promise are, “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him” (Genesis 12:4).
3. At this point he did not know the country, the distance he would travel or the direction of his destination.
4. He simply trusted God. He would not know what God had in mind for him until he reached Canaan.
5. Waiting for God to provide them with an earthly inheritance, the patriarchs came to realize that this life is not an end in itself but a pilgrimage towards a future that God alone can construct for his people.
II. Abraham believed in God’s power when he was asked to make an unbelievable sacrifice.
A. Abraham’s faith was truly tested when God asked him to sacrifice his only son.
1. God had promised Abraham that his many descendants would come through Isaac.
2. Questions probably swirled in Abraham’s mind.
a. If Isaac was dead how could God deliver on His promise?
b. Had Abraham done something that caused God to change His mind?
3. To make matters worse, Abraham loved Isaac with all his heart.
4. In our mind this type of request would cross the line, it is completely unreasonable. How could a good and loving God ask such a thing out of me?
B. Abraham’s faith was shown through unconditional obedience.
1. The NIV translates the action in Hebrews 11:17 as “was about to sacrifice.” In the Greek this is in the imperfect tense which would show that Abraham was in the engaged in the act of sacrificing Isaac.
2. So with that shared, we can assume that Abraham had already begun the process of sacrificing of Isaac when God stopped him.
3. The obedience displayed on Abraham’s part escapes our comprehension. How could he do something like this?
4. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. He expected to return from the place of sacrifice with Isaac (Genesis 22:5) because he knew that the fulfillment of God’s purposes depended on Isaac’s survival.
5. Abraham obviously believed whole heartedly that God would provide a solution to this dilemma.