Summary: Abraham trusted God late in his life, and believed that God would accomplish the impossible. For this reason, he is called the Father of the Faith for all who believe.
It is no coincidence today that we arrive in our study of Genesis at chapter 12 and the call of Abraham. We started our study in Genesis on January 9, 2011, exactly one year ago today. At that time, our Family Life Center was under construction, the steel being erected. We had no idea that one year later, Faith Bible Church would receive a $500,000 gift to help pay for our new building! We had taken a step of faith, not sure of how the Lord would provide. An as He always does, he has demonstrated his power to us in a profound way so as to strengthen our faith and give him glory!
TODAY, exactly ONE YEAR LATER, we come to Genesis 12, to learn about Abraham’s great step of faith.
There are two events in the life of ABRAHAM bear testimony to his faith in God. The first is here in Genesis 12 where Abram leaves his home country in obedience to the call of God. The second is in Genesis 22, where at the age of 101 Abraham obeys God and demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice his own very son. BOTH events in the last half of his life! Say what you want about the benefits of youth, but all that we know about the remarkable life of Abraham happens after is his 75th birthday! I call that a productive retirement!
Abraham’s life and testimony provide a powerful and clear example of the life of faith to which God calls us. Abraham shows us what it means to trust God. Neither he nor any other human lived this life of faith perfectly, other than Jesus Christ. But Abraham’s faith was so strong, that the New Testament refers to him as “the man of faith” (Galatians 3:9).
Abraham teaches us that our faith is demonstrated through obedience.
Abraham’s obedience profoundly characterizes his life, so much so that throughout the scripture he is referred to as the “Father of Faith.”
During the time of Jesus, and still today, pious Jews look to Abraham as their father in almost purely a genetic way. Jesus confronted this attitude by telling the Jews that their lives were identified with Satan, and not Abraham. They were Jews by genetic descent, but they had long departed from following after Abraham’s example of faith (see John 6 and 8, especially 8:44 “you are of your father the Devil...”).
31 verses in the OT refer to Abraham as “our father.”
18 verses in the NT refer to Abraham as “our father,” including the following:
John 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did."
John 8:53–58 "Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
The JEWS thought that this referred to a mere genetic preference from God. But ABRAHAM was their father in a more profound way. Abraham is the FATHER of FAITH.
Romans 4:11 "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them."
One day, GENETIC ISRAEL will also become SPIRITUAL ISRAEL once again!
Let’s look more deeply at the mechanics of Abraham’s faith. What were the circumstances in which Abraham trusted God?
The first thing that we notice is that Abraham was given SPECIFICS to OBEY, but PROMISES to believe.
There are essentially TWO COMMANDS (Genesis 12:1-2)
1. “Go from your country”
2. “Be a Blessing”
Each command is followed by a series of three blessings. The meaning of this arrangement is emphatic: God would bless Abraham if he obeyed, and God would allow him to bless others.
The phrase “and so you shall be a blessing” in verse two is actually in the same form as the command in verse one. God commanded Abram to “be a blessing,” but he could only accomplish this command if he obeyed the Lord’s command to “GO FORTH.” There is a lesson for us to learn. God wants to use us to be a blessing to others. I think all of us want that, but we must obey the Lord’s call and surrender our lives to him. We must “go forth” and follow him. When we do, he then can use us to be a blessing to others.