By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country … (verses 8-9)
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
The Apostle Paul uses this quotation from Genesis several times over in Romans 4 as he takes the whole chapter to highlight Abraham as a model of faith. Be like Abraham, he says. Simply believe God – trust in the Lord Jesus Christ – and it will be credited to you as righteousness, too – just like Abraham.
Paul does the same thing in Galatians, using the same quotation from Genesis. He holds Abraham before our eyes as an example of true faith.
Hebrews 11 gives us other examples of faith, leading us on a tour through the Hall of Fame of Heroes of Faith from the Old Testament. Fifteen are specifically mentioned by name, others are specifically referenced without their names, while still others – many of them – are simply alluded to.
But once again, Abraham is the one who receives the most notice. More than anyone else. And it’s not just one “shining-example” that stands out in his life. No – there are many scenarios of faith to inspire us. Have a look:
(1) Abraham went, not knowing where he was going. He did it simply because God had called. He set out on a journey, saying good-bye to the familiar, leaving behind the comforts of home, travelling a road whose end he couldn’t see. That’s faith. (I’ve had a few moments like that. Oh, may I be ready for more.)
(2) He settled into the Promised Land, even though it didn’t feel like home. He was a stranger. He lived in a tent that could be collapsed and moved any moment. “He was looking forward to the city with foundations” – but he hadn’t experienced it yet. No matter. He trusted God. That’s faith. (How often do I allow my own unsettledness to make me dissatisfied with God, even though he may have me exactly where he wants me.)
(3) Abraham - long past his prime - believed God’s promise that he would father a son. It looked impossible. Oh, how impossible! Sarah was barren. Abraham was “as good as dead.” But he trusted God. Anyway. That’s faith. (Oh, how the mountains that need to be moved tend to overwhelm my own faith. May they rather be occasions for faith to stretch and grow.)
(4) Abraham obeyed God even when it looked like the Promise would be thwarted. The Lord asked him to sacrifice Isaac, the son who was the impossible fulfilment of the impossible promise. Yet Abraham trusted still, right into the next impossibility. He “reasoned that God could raise the dead.” That’s faith. (When my faith is stretched further yet – past the place where I thought I could catch my breath – may I keep trusting. Still.)
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Oh, may it be so for me.
Sovereign Lord, thank you for this Hero of Faith. He wasn’t perfect, but in human weakness he trusted you. Again and again, he was stretched, yet he trusted. Strengthen faith within me that I, too, may be ready for those stretching moments. Indeed, use those moments to strengthen faith.
Remember: Think back. Has there been a moment along the way (or two or three) when your faith was stretched beyond what you thought you were able? Rejoice in the triumphs. Put the failures into the Lord’s hands. Ask for his ongoing work in your life now – ready for the next stretch.