Monday, July 13, 2009

Faith and Obedience

After over a month stewing in the juices of Genesis 1-11, I am moving on the next section. Beginning at the very end of the geneology in chapter 11 and continuing for the next 13 chapters the bible tells us about Abram (later Abraham), his immediate family, and the consequences of his choices.

At the very beginning of chapter 12, we find that the Lord has spoken to Abram.

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those that bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12: 1-3 (ESV)
For whatever reason Abram did not fully obey God's command at first. In Genesis 11: 31, we know that Abram traveled with his father, his nephew, and his wife from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan, but they only made it to Haran. It is only after the death of his father that he continues on his journey to Cannan.

Who was Abram that God would choose him from all the masses of humanity to begin this journey that would eventually lead to the salvation at the cross of Jesus Christ? Was their something special about Abram? In Genesis 6, we know that God choose Noah because he was a righteous man. We find no such distinction in the Bible for Abram when we first meet him. All we know is God said to Abram. Go leave all that you know and do this thing and I will bless you. We should be thankful that God knows the hearts of mankind. Abram, though with shaky steps that sometimes dragged slowly along, stepped out into the unknown. He had faith that the one who had spoken to him would carry through.

His obedience was rewarded by a response from God. When Abram had come to Canaan, God appeared to him and revealed a little more of his plan.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7 (ESV)
Unfortunately our fears will derail our lives if we let them. Abram though a man of faith took his eyes off the prize when he went into Egypt. During this sad time, Abram lies, basically has prostituted his wife (receives riches/gifts from pharaoh for his wife/sister), and does nothing to retrieve her from Pharaoh's harem. You see he was afraid that the Egyptians would slay him because Sarai was so beautiful even though she was in her 60's at least. He did not remember that the Lord had yet to fulfill his promises so he was not going to die. His faith wavered, but God intervened to get him back on track. He plagued Pharaoh and his house until Sarai was returned to Abram. Abram must have been exceedingly embarrassed as he was standing before Pharaoh being chastised for lying about his wife and doing nothing when Pharaoh took her.

We often forget that God is faithful and that he intends good for us.

And we know that for those who love God all things work for good for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
He is there for us when we need him.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10 (ESV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
Sometimes it hard to take that first step in faith. We can not see the entire plan that God has for us. Sometimes like Abram, we are called to just go. It's not until we act in obedience to God that he reveals that next step to us. Yet if we continue to sit back in fear, we may miss out on the greatest moment of our lives. God doesn't need you, but he wants you. If Abram had failed the call, God would have found someone else to ensure that the world was blessed. Fortunately, Abram reached out and took the hand of God. He demonstrated his faith by being obedient to the will of God. And as we know (or maybe you don't but stay tuned) through Abram, all the world was blessed. From Abram came the line that lead to Jesus Christ whose sacrifice blessed all the world with freedom from sin.

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