In God's great hall of faith chapter, Hebrews 11, Abraham is introduced in verse 8 with this statement:
"By 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."
There are two key words in that verse which describe Abraham: Faith and Obeyed. He exercised faith in God and obeyed (acted on that faith).
The first eleven chapters of Genesis are filled with disappointment and failure after God's initial creation. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were cast out of the garden, Cain murdered his brother Abel, humanity became so corrupt that God cleansed the earth with a flood, after departing the ark Noah got drunk and Ham looked on his nakedness, in defiance of God men built a city and a tower to reach the heavens and God sent confusion of languages to end the rebellion.
We may have been tempted to destroy mankind again, but God decided to choose one man and give humanity a new beginning. He chose Abraham. Over the next few weeks we want to consider the life of Abraham and learn from this man of faith.
I. The Call. (12: 1 a)
A. When God Called.
1. We are not told exactly when Abraham received the call, but we know that it was a calling of grace.
(John 15:16) Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
2. Abraham was called out of idolatry.
(Joshua 24:2) And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3. Abraham was 75 years old when God called him from Haran, and he trusted God for 100 years.
(Genesis 25:7) And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
4. He was married to Sarah and they were childless.
5. Why would God call such an unlikely couple to found great nation for Him?
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
B. How God Called.
1. Stephen tells us that "The God of glory appeared unto Abraham". cf Acts 7:2
2. We do not know how God appeared unto him, but this was one of seven direct communications from God to Abraham.
3. Verse one tells us that God had spoken to Abraham.
4. We know that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
5. It was a call to separate himself from the corruption around him, and he obeyed.
C. Why God Called.
1. In His love, He was concerned about their salvation.
2. In His plan, God wanted to bless the whole world through them.
3. In His wisdom, He provided the life of Abraham as an example for all believers.
4. Abraham wasn't perfect, but his walk with God was generally characterized by faith.
5. As we consider his life of faith, we will learn that when we trust the Lord, no test is impossible and no failure is permanent.
II. The Covenant. (12:1?3)
A. True faith is based upon the Word of God.
1. God spoke to Abraham and told him what He would do for him and through him if he would trust and obey.
2. We are not saved by making promises to God, but by believing God's promises to us.
3. God gave His covenant to Abraham and he, in turn, responded with faith and obedience.
B. God didn't give Abraham reasons or explanations.
1. He simply gave him promises.
2. "I will show thee ... I will make of thee ... I will bless thee ... I will bless them that bless thee..."
3. The men at Babel said, "Let us...", but God said, "I will..."
4. In later years God would reaffirm and amplify certain areas of this covenant, but for now it was enough for Abraham to believe Him and set out by faith.
III. The Compromise. (12:4)
A. The first steps of faith.
1. These are not always giant steps.
2. Abraham did not fully obey God.
3. Instead of leaving his family, as he was commanded, he took his father and his nephew Lot with him when he left Ur.
4. He delayed for a while, perhaps months or years, at Haran until Terah died.
B. Abraham begins his walk with compromise.
1. He made an agreement with Sarah to be deceptive about their relationship.
(Genesis 20:13) And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
2. He brought his father along, perhaps justifying his compromise with his father's age or lack of good health.
3. He brought his nephew, Lot, along which resulted in problems until they later agreed to separate.
4. All of these things hindered Abraham from fully obeying God, but God tests us in order to build our faith.
IV. A Commitment. (12:4?9)
A. Faith brings us out. v4?5
1. It may have been a son's love for his aged father that made Abraham delay.
2. But the day finally came when he and Sarah had to leave and go to the land God had chosen for them.
3. Faith demands a commitment to obey.
4. Abraham went out by faith.
B. Faith brings us in. v6?8
1. God brings us out that He might bring us in.
(Deuteronomy 6:23) And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.
2. He brought Abraham out of Ur that He might bring him into Canaan.
3. Canaan represents the believer's inheritance that they are to claim by faith.
4. Claiming an inheritance will involve many tests and temptations, but God is able to see us through.
5. Wherever Abraham went in the land of Canaan, he was marked by his tent and his altar.
6. His tent identified him as a stranger and a pilgrim, and the altar identified him as one who worshiped the true and living God.
C. Faith brings us on. v9
1. The life of faith is one that continues on.
2. God would keep Abraham moving so that he would meet new challenges and be forced to trust God for grace in times of need.
3. Abraham was now in the place where God had called him, but his journey was just beginning.
Like Abraham, each of us who have been saved has been called to follow Him. We are to walk by faith and not by sight. Trusting God through the various circumstances of life; knowing that He has a plan and purpose for each of us to bring Him glory.