Abraham: Hebrews 11:8
8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
Abraham–wow! There is no way to do justice to this man of faith in the little bit of time I have to study and write. In fact, there is so much that could be discussed about Abraham, I am going to take at least three weeks (I think) to talk about the verses we see in Hebrews about Abraham. When I start reading the verses on him and then just a few commentaries on those verses, it challenges my faith! In fact, he exemplified faith so much he is called the “Father of the Faithful!” Romans 4:11 calls him “the father of all them that believe.” Of course, the biggest example of Abraham’s faith that most people think of right away is when Abraham obeyed God to go sacrifice Isaac on the altar. However, Abraham would not have been able to respond in obedience to that demand if he would not have responded in faith and obedience to all the previous orders God gave to Abraham. The first step of obedience God asked of Abraham was for him to move from his homeland to a place that God would show him. Most people plan a trip to the minutest detail, and of course the first thing they would have figured out is their ultimate destination! But according to MacArthur (as I am not a Greek scholar), this phrase in verse 8, “when he was called to go out” is a present participle. Therefore, it could be translated, “Abraham, while being called, was obeying.” So his obedience was immediate. He didn’t have to think about it. He didn’t have to pray for God’s will to be made known unto him. Immediately, he started packing and making preparations to go!
This was a rebuke to me. There are so many times when I know (or at least I should know if I would slow down and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit), what I should do. Of course, God wants me to witness to those around us. Of course, He wants me to take every opportunity to impact my children in a Christ-like manner. Of course, He wants me to pray for others and think of ways I can show Christ-like love to my brothers and sisters in Christ. But how many times do I think up excuses of why I can’t do something. Now I know that there must be priorities in our lives, and that sometimes “no” must be said; but I know that I excuse myself too often and spiritualize it by saying, “Well, I’ll have to pray about that.” Some things do not have to be prayed about. You might be asking, “Did I just read that right?” Yes, you did! You might need to ask God to give you the right words to say or to give you the courage to follow His leading. But we know it is His will to take the gospel to every creature–therefore, we ought to witness. We know it is His will for parents to train up their children in the way they should go, so we should be imparting Biblical truth in the way we live, as we walk, as we sit, in everything we do! We know we should submit to our husband’s leadership. We know some things should not be worn as God calls us to a holy lifestyle. We know that some places should not be visited–because they are in direct opposition to God’s holy character. We don’t need to waste time praying about certain situations. If it has already been revealed to us how we should respond or act in the Bible, then our response should be immediate obedience!
So Abraham obeyed in faith. We know it took faith to obey, because he did not know where he was going. If he knew where he was going, he would have been able to plan and use his own logical processing to determine what he should do. But he didn’t know–yet he still went–in faith. His immediate going preoccupied his thoughts so much that he did not worry or fret. This again made me think of how I respond as a lady. How much time I waste in worrying–usually about things that never even happen! And I definitely have not had to obey in such a huge life-changing event like Abraham had to. I can imagine what a stew I would have been in as I would have tried to imagine where we would be going and what barbaric people I would be surrounded by. It does make me wonder how Sarah reacted to this news and if Abraham had to deal with a fretful wife! Yes, I would not have responded in the fashion Abraham did. However, God took care of him, did he not? In fact, he was quite a wealthy man with many servants and had every need provided for him. So if God asks us to do something, we can respond in faith with instant obedience trusting Him to take care of us.
The other interesting fact about this verse is that Abraham left all to follow God. He was saved! He had an idol-worshipping father, and he lived in an idol-worshipping city. But when God called, he responded by faith in obedience, leaving all. Sometimes faith in God demands this complete severing of ties with all that you know and are comfortable with, and even love (like family). Sometimes it does not. However, true faith in God demands a willingness to forsake all for Christ. And Abraham showed that he had true faith by leaving his family, his city, and his house to follow Christ. Are you willing to walk by faith and not by sight? Abraham did, and he received many verses in the Bible commending him for his faith.
My favorite quote about this verse:
ABRAM began his journey without any knowledge of his ultimate destination. He obeyed a noble impulse without any discernment of its consequences. He took “one step,” and he did not “ask to see the distant scene.” And that is faith, to do God’s will here and now, quietly leaving the results to Him.
Faith is not concerned with the entire chain; its devoted attention is fixed upon the immediate link.
Faith is not knowledge of a moral process; it is fidelity in a moral act.
Faith leaves something to the Lord; it obeys His immediate commandment and leaves to Him direction and destiny.
And so faith is accompanied by serenity.
“He that believeth shall not make haste” (Isa 28:16KJV)—or, more literally, “shall not get into a fuss.” He shall not get into a panic, neither fetching fears from his yesterdays nor from his to-morrows. Concerning his yesterdays faith says, “Thou hast beset me behind.” Concerning his to-morrows faith says, “Thou hast beset me before.” (Ps 139:5) Concerning his to-day faith says, “Thou hast laid Thine hand upon me.” (Ps 139:5–note) That is enough, just to feel the pressure of the guiding hand. (Daily Meditation by John Henry Jowett)
Here are some verses that could be studied more in connection with these thoughts on the faith of Abraham. I will try to come back on the Hebrews 11:8 page to comment more on the verses.
Luke 9:23–saving faith demands a willingness to leave all
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
1 John 2:15-16–saving faith demands separation from the world; a changed life
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Matthew 6:25-33–we do not need to worry if we are obeying our Heavenly Father
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature. 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Proverbs 3:5-6–Trust in God and His Word; let Him direct you
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
James 2:14-18–true faith is faith that acts in obedience
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.