Summary: Abraham, Pt. 10 (Final)
WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT (GENESIS 24:1-25:9)
Walking by faith is not the most natural thing on earth. Like any exercise, exercising our faith is easier said than done. No one is ever quite ready - intellectually, emotionally or spiritually - for God’s ways, life’s lessons or unexpected turns.
Abraham traveled a long way from his native Ur to Canaan. Along the road his father died. The Promised Land was not a bed of roses by any means. Abraham strayed into Egypt when a famine struck, separated from Lot as their fortunes grew, took a concubine at his wife’s insistence but later had Isaac with the aged Sarah and witnessed the departure of Ishmael, his other son.
However, whenever Abraham stumbled, slipped or stalled, faith rescued him, pulled him out and put him back on his feet. A man of faith is not perfect in faith but persistent in faith. Abraham’s triumph over his shortcomings, mistakes, weaknesses, blunders and faults was nothing short of a miracle. He eventually overcame his inadequacies, suspicions and fears and transformed himself into a giant in faith.
How does a man of faith relate to God, live his life and minister to others? What are his responsibilities and challenges? What motivates and sustains his faith?
A Man of Faith is a Promise-Keeper
24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” 6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” (Gen 24:1-8)
Augustine, the renowned author of “The Confessions of Augustine” and one of the greatest thinkers, writers and defenders of the faith, was also known for his famous mother, Monica. Before he was saved, Augustine cohabited with a woman for 14 years, fathered a son out of wedlock and held to heretical teachings. Rome was always a big attraction to him. He wanted to taste city life, explore the opportunities and make his mark there.
When Augustine made up his mind to leave for the bright lights of Rome, knowing that his mother would object or, worse, follow along, he told her to meet him somewhere in town while he secretly boarded a ship to Rome. The heartbroken mother prayed for his son’s salvation for 17 years. In times of loneliness and grief Monica would run to the church for sanctuary and prayer, crying over his son’s waywardness, lifestyle and absence. A bishop who attended and ministered to the teary Monica in prayer said to the woman who often begged him to pray for her son and talked to him: “Only pray to our Lord for him. Your son will at length discover his error and impiety. Go your way, God bless you; it cannot be that a child of those tears should perish.”
Abraham’s famous last words in the Bible have not been covered enough in commentaries. After warning his servant once in verse 6 not to take his forty-years old son (Gen 25:20) back to Mesopotamia, Abraham reiterated the point to his servant and ended the conversation with him this way: “Only do not take my son back there” (v 8) - thus concluded the account of Abraham’s life and legacy. The reason Abraham made his servant swear an oath was clear: God’s promise of land was meant not just for the patriarch alone, but for Abraham and his offspring (Gen 12:7, 13:15, 17:8). Abraham claimed the land promise for the next of kin and subsequent generations. The urgent request was uncharacteristic of the patriarch; not only did the boss ask a favor from his servant, but he also initiated an oath (vv 3, 7), putting his servant’s hand under his thigh for a solemn swear-in.