Summary: Third sermon in a series on Hebrews 11. Abraham was called, obeyed and went.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The text for tonight’s proclamation is taken from the Epistle, Hebrews 11:8;
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
In the name of Jesus dear Christian friends, for the past few weeks, I’ve been wresting with what my call to Emmanuel entails. But, even further back in my ministry here, I remember the Sunday of my ordination/installation, when my cousin asked me how long I was required to stay here, and I told him there wasn’t a set time limit, at least not one set by men. I could receive a call to another church during my first day here, accept it, and be on my way. That, of course, did not happen, but it leads into the point of tonight’s hero of faith; Abraham. What is a call? Do I, as the Pastor here, have the only call? No, I am not the only one with a call. I have a call to be Emmanuel’s pastor, but I also have a call to be Gayle’s husband, Marisa and Noelle’s father, and also a call to be a Christian. Martin Luther once said something like this, a garbage man who does his job to the glory of God is greater than a 1000 priests who don’t. That isn’t the exact quote, the point is that God has called us all to do something for His kingdom of grace, the church on earth, and we are all to do that to the best of our ability. Tonight we hear of a hero of faith who, when called, obeyed and went. In fact, Abraham’s life could be summed up in those three verbs; called, obeyed, went.
Abraham is known for his great faith throughout the Scriptures. We know of Abraham as the one who “believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)” Paul picks this up to show the righteousness that saves. Abraham’s faith is also shown in his willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac, believing God would raise him from the dead if he did. But, tonight, we go back to the first meeting between God and Abraham, before the name change, before he even recognized God as God.
Hebrews 11:7 talks about the great hero of faith Noah. Both Noah and Abraham are great heroes of faith, and both are chosen to led the people of God at a starting point. Noah, after the world is destroyed, but Abraham is chosen to lead God’s people out from the world. Abraham and his descendants are separated by their life of faith and hope to “walk with God.”
God did not call Abraham because of his own merits. He had none. In Joshua, we learn that Abraham’s ancestors worshipped idols, just like their neighbors. Abraham was a citizen of an idolatrous city, Ur of the Chaldees. Had not God revealed Himself to Abraham, he would have died an unbeliever. From a human point of view, God’s choice of Abraham and Sarah—who had no children—was a foolish one. But ultimately it brought great glory to God and great blessing to the world.
Yes, God picked Abraham out of an idolatrous nation to be the Father of His people. Why? Howland Spencer wrote an 8 word poem that sums this all up, “How odd Of God To choose The Jews.” And God did choose the Jews, in the person of Abraham. And that choice comes in the form of a sevenfold call.
1. “I will make you a great nation.”
2. “I will bless you,” and yet Abraham did not even possess a foot of land.
3. “make your name great,” and yet Abraham was a stranger in a strange land.
4. “and you shall be a blessing.”
5. “I will bless those who bless you.” God promises to be a friend to His friend, to take kindnesses shown to Abraham as done to Himself and bless those who show kindness to Abraham.
6. “I will curse him who curses you,” that is, I, the Lord God, will be the big brother to you if anyone picks on you.
7. “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This was the promise that crowned all the rest. It points to the Messiah through whom all nations of the earth are blessed.
That was the call, and the part that makes Abraham a hero of faith is that, after God called him, he obeyed. Obedience is something that we talk about in children and pets as a nice quality, but it is also a wonderful quality for a believer to have in their relationship with God. Jesus once told a parable of two sons, “There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ’Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ’I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ’I will, sir,’ but he did not go. (Matthew 21:28 - 30)”