ABRAHAM: A LIFE OF FAITH Read Genesis 12:1-9 for Sunday

It takes 12 chapters in the Book of Genesis to get to the kind of life that we are called to in the 21st Century – a life of faith. Up till that chapter, we have had:

Adam and Eve – the life of trusting self over God

Cain and Abel – the life of works to earn God’s blessing

Seth – the life that calls upon the name of the Lord

The Generations In-between – the life of disregard for God

Noah – the life of the righteous family, who obey God for self – preservation

The Descendants of Noah – the life of competing with God for greatness 

That little summary is probably not something I would turn in for a Ph.D. dissertation, but I think it is a logical and useful way to summarize the kinds of relationships with God the people of the 1st 11 chapters of Genesis had. And as you will notice, each of those “lifestyles” still exist today in God’s people: Many of us still trust ourselves before trusting God; Many of us live our lives trying to earn God’s favor through good works; Many of us call upon the name of God, but have no intention of trusting God with our lives; Many of us have little, if any, regard for God in our lives; And many of us turn to God when we have nowhere else to turn and our lives are in a desperate mess. 

The 1st 11 chapters of Genesis tell me that God knows all about those various kinds of relationships that God’s people preferred, but still God was working in those lives: Picking up the messes; putting back together the pieces; cleansing the world and giving us a do-over. But it isn’t until Chapter 12 of Genesis that we learn about a way of life that can save us from ourselves and save the world as well! 

Meet Abram – soon to be renamed by God – Abraham. Seemingly from out of nowhere, with no hint of foreshadowing other than a genealogical lineage, this verse appears in the Book of Genesis: “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.’” 

Not unlike God’s request of Noah, God wants a particular person to do something very specific. For Noah, the underlying motivation was to save himself and his family – and, by the way, civilization! But God’s call to Abram is different – significantly different. This time, God wants the person receiving the message to trust God entirely … no questions asked.

Yes, there is a promise – a covenant – which God makes with Abram: “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.” And while that promise today may sound glorious … imagine Abram hearing it for the first time and thinking, “Well, that and a nickel will get me a cup of coffee!” 

I’m sure that thought, or something like it, went through Abram’s mind. But it didn’t stick. The trust that Abram had in his heart for God overwhelmed any doubt that emerged in his mind, so “Abram took his wife … his brother’s son … all the possessions they had gathered … and the persons they had acquired … and set forth to go to the land of Canaan.” 

This is one of those moments in the stories of the Bible when we have to stop … draw in a deep breath … and take a good long look at what is going on here and why. We are just 12 chapters into the first book of the Bible, and God shows us something new that will become the basis for people’s relationship with God till the end of the Bible, and beyond. God introduces the concept of FAITH … trusting in God’s word just because it is God’s word! 

From this point on, faith becomes the measuring stick whereby all those who appear in the Old Testament stories, and all who appear in the New Testament as well, will have their relationship with God defined by this one concept: faith. 

In the Old Testament, those who lived by faith in God were blessed in their lives, and those who did not were cursed. And just about everybody that appears are both! Their stories show us the great cycle of having faith and lacking faith, and our inability to overcome our self-trust to completely trust God with our whole life.

In the New Testament, God presents a remedy for the predicament we are in. Not being able on our own to shed the sin of self-worship, God comes into our world as one of us, only sinless, to show us how to live according to God’s way and to lift the curse of sin from our stained hearts and tangled lives and nail it to a cross. Only God could do this for us, and so Jesus becomes the bridge between our life of faith, such as it is, and finally reaching the promised land of God’s Kingdom. 

Faith becomes the key to life … and trust unlocks the door. With that, as Jesus says repeatedly, our faith has saved us. From a man named Abram … through generations of history, to this very day and your one “wild and precious” life, God still calls. God calls you today, and says to “Go” to a place where I will show you … it’s a promised land that I have prepared for you … and all I ask in return is that you trust me.” 

Let us begin the journey of faith together … today.

Following in Abraham’s path, I am,

Pastor Bob