I like to peer into, and glean from the lives of men who are the heroes of our faith, who have gone before us, and walked with God. It is helpful in walking our own road of faith.
Abraham was a great believer, and to me was most notable for his obedience. Obedience was the great facet of his life, yet there is more, Abraham was fully persuaded and lived in constant anticipation, so ever hopeful of following, and finding his promises from God.
When you are on a journey to a faraway place, the road just seems to go on and on forever.
I grew up in the heartland of South Africa, which is farmland, and so flat that on a good day you can see tomorrow. The national road, that took us on our annual summer vacation to go and see, smell and taste the saltiness of the ocean, was a very flat, straight, long, lazy strip of tar in vast farmland fields. It went on forever, or so it seemed to me at the time, for when you have great anticipation, the getting there is almost unending.
Or, do you remember when you were a child, the almost unbearable anticipation for the time to open the Christmas gifts under the tree? You could just not wait !
Anticipation is a healthy frame of mind. It is a desire that may, or may not be delayed, but nevertheless creates expectation, and that leads to hope.
The opposite of anticipation is anxiety, which is rooted in fear, the opposite of faith.
Anxiety creates worry, that can can lead to depression.
Hope is required for a future, and a future needs a vision.
Perhaps one of the reasons mental illness is so prevalent in our times is that we have it all and there’s nothing to look forward to, no anticipation.
Proverbs 29:18 says – where there is no vision, the people perish.
If there was one thing that Abraham had its was a vision of the future.
He is one of the great heroes of our faith. In fact Abraham is the father of our faith. It began with Abraham, when he heard the call of God to go on a journey to a faraway place that he did not know, or even how to get there. That would require a response, and faith. And what is faith – believing the invisible, that which you cannot see, as if it were a reality.
And though some of you may not be familiar with who Abraham is in the Christian faith, his is a fascinating story of another dimension, set in the ordinary of the every day life -yet woven in is this thing called Faith.
Here briefly is the story of Abraham.
He was living in a heathen civilization, where idols were worshipped. God told him to leave this land and his family and to go to another land. A place where he would inherit the promises of God – the Promised Land. (There is a parallel story here, between the physical and the spiritual)
Abraham, obeyed the call, and began to move on the long journey.
Abraham had a vision from God, and was promised that he would be the father of many nations, even though he was old, and did not have an heir. Sarah his wife laughed when she was told that she would bear a son in her old age. Isaac, which means laughter, was born to Abraham and Sarah – a miracle child.
Abraham became a wealthy man, a man of renown.
Apart from Isaac, Abraham had other sons too. Ishmael was born of Hagar, but they were sent off into the desert.
Isaac, the beloved son, married Rebecca and she had two children, the twins Jacob and Esau.
Jacob, was sent to seek a wife from Isaac’s people. He was deceived into marrying Leah. He had 10 children. Then he married his first love, Rachel, the sister of Leah, and they had two children, Joseph and Benjamin.
In all Jacob had 12 sons, from which the 12 tribes of Israel would originate.
So the foundations of the nations were laid.
The forging and fostering of a people of faith began to emerge.
When famine struck, they all went to Egypt for survival, which would become their place of slavery for four hundred years. There they became known as the Hebrews.
Moses was born to deliver these people from their slavery and their oppression.
And so the story of a rescued people, destined for a better life in a promised land continues. Their story unfolds through altar stones of worship, tabernacles and temples and then the City of Jerusalem. Their story and wisdom congeals and is chronicled in their rich history in the Old Testament.
Abraham had a vision of a city, of which God Himself ‘is the builder and maker.’ And to this Abraham was called – to journey into the unknown, a journey of faith, for it was not, as yet, a real city. A city forged in faith, through the making of a people of faith. This was God’s vision, a v e r y long term vision indeed – and Abraham received and
perceived it and so set out to find it.
I had been wanting to look a little deeper into faith, so when Dr Mark Chironna did a series on Hebrews 11, I began to connect some dots, that overflowed, for me, into the bigger picture of our faith.
So I tried to piece together the “faith genealogy” and where Abraham fitted into the whole of God’s story, and came to this brief summary, which may indicate that Abraham knew the story from the beginning to the end – he was given the whole story, apart from the details.
Adam,……… to Seth to Enoch and the genealogy line to Noah, the Flood.
Abraham, the called faith people of God
Moses, the Law of God’s people
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Kingdom of God, – the miraculous ushered into the physical realm.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, – the New Creation.
The City of God, the New Jerusalem.
Abraham was an ordinary man. He made mistakes along the way. He’s faith had not yet been perfected.
We can make mistakes too, our faith is not yet perfected. ‘ Faith is good, becomes great and then perfected ‘ – says Dr Chironna.
History tells us that when the beloved city Jerusalem is finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD they are scattered, and Judaism is established to keep alive the Jewish traditions.
Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, and His followers become known as Christians, and the Christian religion is born on the back of the Jewish belief – in an invisible God, Creator of heaven and earth, with a Messiah and a redemption story for mankind, that would pave the way to a New Creation.
Redemption from the Great Oppressor of slavery, an evil liar who kills steals and destroys wherever and whenever he can do so, and still doing so to this very day !
And thereby may hang another story.
I suspect that Abraham may well have understood the Heavenly vision for
John 8:56 tells us that ‘Abraham saw Jesus’s day and rejoiced in it.‘ He knew that God raised Jesus from the dead, and this gave him the faith to know that God could raise up Isaac, when he was told to kill his own son as a sacrifice.
Abraham had great faith in God.
He knew that God was a miracle working God. He was not only able to obey God, but trusted God, for he may well have known the story of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, in fact the Gospel story.
Today, it is still faiths’s pattern to look ahead to a better future, with anticipation and with hope. A better place. A place called heaven, the Promised Land, that has a city where there are no tears or pain. For now, an invisible place, that requires eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands.
It requires faith to make it a reality.
Faith is important. It is an essential substance that should be applied to our everyday lives too, for without faith we cannot please God.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
God is faithful.
Let’s be the people that will go to make up that City….. a people of Faith, and practice it in our ordinary everyday lives, always looking ahead ‘calling those things which do not exist as though they did.’ There are still miracles that can be called in through faith, there are still people that need to know that God is a miracle working God, that all is not lost, that there is a better tomorrow, because with faith hope and love anything is possible. Its God’s way.
As Dr Chironna says : faith collapses the impossible into a possible reality.
(Love that !)
Its the miracle Gospel story, that will open us up to the same faith journey that Abraham undertook.
May we, like Abraham, perceive a good future and moved into it with anticipation, expectation and hope, standing on the promises in God’s Word – that is Faith !