As I studied Hebrews 11, the story that stood out most to me this time was about Abraham. Abraham received incredible promises from the Lord earlier on in life.
The Bible doesn’t say when Abram, his wife Sarai, and his father Terah set out for the land of Canaan from Ur of the Chaldeans. It also doesn’t originally say why they did. But regardless, they decided to stop halfway to Canaan in a place called Haran. Maybe stuck in grief and honour of Terah’s other son, Haran, that had previously passed away.
At some point, the LORD called Abram away from Haran to finish the journey to the land of Canaan. It’s actually incredible that Abram followed because his father Terah worshipped other gods. Again, it doesn’t say how and why Abram chose to listen to and follow the God, but it’s so encouraging that he did. The Holy Spirit was at work in his heart and life, making His plans and purposes fulfilled.
It was at this moment that the Lord shared with Abram the promises He was giving him for his obedience:
“Go out from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you
into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those
who bless you,
I will curse those
who treat you
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3 (HSCB)
Abram was already 75 years old at the time. His father was still alive when he moved. He left everything and everyone he knew behind, except his wife Sarai, and set out to a foreign land they had never been to. He trusted what the Lord said was true.
“By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise.” Hebrew 11:8-10
Abraham’s name did become great during his lifetime. He had high respect and fear from kings around him. Though he wouldn’t have been able to fathom just how great and well known his name would become. He was always considered a foreigner in the land of Canaan. He never saw his people establish it.
Then came the long-awaited son that God had promised to create nations from. Remember Abraham was 75 when he moved from Haran, and his wife Sarah was infertile. The prized son didn’t arrive for another 25 years after that, when Abraham was considered an old man.
Then the humanly unthinkable happened. Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his prized son.
“By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son, the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac. He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.” Hebrews 11:17-19
Abraham’s faith grew so much in the Lord that he was actually obedient to God’s request for him to sacrifice Isaac. He prepared the altar, set his son on it, and raised the knife to do the deed, all the while trusting God. I don’t know any parent that could do that. But his faith was confident in the promise God gave him that this particular child would have nations come from him. Therefore, Abraham believed that if he had to sacrifice his son, that God would raise him back up from the dead to continue on with his promise.
It was all to foreshadow what God would eventually do to Jesus for all of us. It revealed the great sacrifice of a parent, the promise of God’s covenant, and the power of His abilities.
We have a lot to learn from the faithful people that have gone before us. They certainly had their flaws. That’s humanity. We are not infallible. However, we serve a God and King that is. Our faith can grow like our forefathers and mothers did. We can make great strides for Christ as well. But our hands and hearts need to be constantly open before God. We need to be willing to move, say goodbye to family, and do the humanly hardest things imaginable. We need to trust God completely with our lives, knowing that there is a great reward at the end of it. One that will overwhelm our wildest imagination.
“For [Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” Hebrews 11:10
God is the builder of the heavenly city that those who believe in Him will all enjoy together. He is also the King that rules it. What better place to spend all of eternity than with God Himself in the glorious rich inheritance of the perfect land we will get to live in? That’s the greatest promise we can ever work towards in this life.