|Abraham: Following In the Footsteps of Faith
Series Intro: Few men, outside of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself have has such an impact on the history of the world as did the man introduced to us in this passage of scripture. This man is revered by over one-half the world's population. In our day, Abraham is held in high esteem by Jews, Muslims and Christians. In ancient times the Jews considered Abraham to be almost worthy of their worship. In the Bible, Abraham is presented to us as a great example of a man who lived his life by faith, and was called the "Friend of God." This man's life was a special life and a great portion of the first book of the Bible is devoted to it. Today, we are going to begin a study of the life of this man named Abraham. Now, some may ask, "Why take the time to study a man who lived years ago?" My answer to you is that, first, the Bible takes the time to speak about him, so we should take the time to study him. The second is that the life of Abraham teaches us much about the matter of walking with God by faith. That, after all, is the goal of the Lord for all His children. God is calling every one of His children to live a life of faith. This man teaches us how.
THE CALL TO A LIFE OF FAITH
Sermon Intro: These verses teach us about the early years of Abraham's life. They show us how the Lord found him, called him and promised to bless him. On the surface they may seem as though they have little to say to us in our day, however, nothing could be farther from the truth! The early days and call of this man's life teach us some valuable lessons about God, His ways and about what our response to Him should be.
Since it is true that God has and is calling each of His children to a life of faith, and since we have trouble living that kind of life day by day, we need to hear what the Bible teaches us in these verses about Abraham's call to faith. Let's look and see what we can learn today about The Call To A Life Of Faith.
I. ABRAM'S PAST OBSCURITY: THE WRETCHED YEARS (vv. 27-30)
There was a time in the distant past when Abraham was a mere nobody. He was just another nameless face in the crowd of humanity. His past was one of obscurity.
A. The Place Of His Original Home - Ur was located in what we call Iraq today. It was in the southeast corner of Iraq, some 75 miles north of the Kuwaiti border. Right in the middle of the area where the Gulf War was fought in 1991. It was, at Abraham's time, located at the place where the Euphrates River emptied into the Persian Gulf. At that time, it was a bustling seaport. History also says that this city was a center of intellectual activity. A large public library has been unearthed that contained thousands of ancient texts written in clay. That region was also well suited for raising flocks and herds. Which may account for the fact that Abraham was, for the whole of his life, involved with sheep and cattle.
B. The Problems Of His Original Home - While the area of Abraham’s origin may have been prosperous, it was also perverted. The people of that area were involved in some of the most wretched forms of idolatry known to mankind. The fact of their wickedness is born out by the testimony of the scriptures themselves. Gen. 31:30-34 relate that while Abraham was able to break free of the idolatry of the land, his relatives were not. There we find that his great-nephew Laban and Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel. Many years later, Isaiah reminded the nation of Israel to remember where God brought them from, Isa. 51:1. He called their father Abraham out of the most wretched of conditions, spiritually speaking!
C. The Pain Of His Original Home - As one reads these verses, the wretchedness and hopelessness of Abraham's years in Ur comes to the surface. For him, it was a time of darkness, death, and despair. No matter how you look at it, Abraham's early years were wretched days!
When you get right down to it, you and I are no different than Abraham. We might not have served stone gods and worshiped the heavenly bodies, but we were all trapped in the same darkness that enveloped the life of Abraham! It rejoices my heart to know that we serve a God Who can reach into the blackest heart and turn on the light of His glory and presence. I praise Him that He can take a life that was so hopeless and barren and can turn it into one of the greatest examples of the power of faith and grace that can be found anywhere!
The whole point is this: regardless of where we came from or of what baggage we carry with us now, God is able to come where we are and change us for His glory. No one is beyond the touch of the Lord! Not even a pagan like Abram!)
I. ABRAM'S PAST OBSCURITY: THE WRETCHED YEARS
II. ABRAM'S PARTIAL OBEDIENCE: THE WASTED YEARS (vv. 11:31-32; 12:1)
A. The Call To Depart (vv. 12:1) - We are not told how the call came to Abraham, but we are told that God spoke to this man in his darkness and called him into the light to follow a new path. Abram was called to leave behind everything he loved and everything that had shaped his life up to that point. He was ordered to leave his Region, his Religion and his Relatives behind. For this man, it would be a difficult task. He was issued a call to Follow, to Faith and to a new Future. He was to leave his home, not knowing where he was going, or when he would arrive. He was to leave all such matters in the hand of the Lord!
When the call of God does come to a life, it is a call for that person to sever all ties with the past life. His call is a call to a new life with new priorities and a new Lord. His call is for total commitment. His call is for the believer to leave the old life behind and to begin a new life of faith, where every moment is lived in utter dependence upon the Lord alone for every need. That is the nature of the divine call! God's call is for you to follow without your being concerned about the destination. His call is for you to leave the details to Him. His call is for surrender to His call, regardless of what it costs, where it leads or how much it hurts. His call is still follow me!
B. The Compromise In Devotion (vv. 11:31) - The nature of Abram's call was for him to leave. It seems that Abram compromised by not separating from his family as he had been ordered. He failed to fully submit to the Lord's call!
The Bible says that they came to Haran and dwelled there. If you look at a map, you will find that Haran is northeast of the Promised Land. This was not where God called Abram to be! He has not gone all the way for the Lord. He has failed to separate from his family and he has failed to arrive at the place he has been called to. Always remember that partial obedience is simple disobedience! Until you have done all God says to do, you haven't done what God said to do!
What has the Lord told you to do that you haven't done? Have you come short in the obedience department? I know first hand that not all of God's commands are easy to obey. Some are difficult, some are frightening and some are costly, but all to be obeyed without question by the child of God who wishes to walk by faith and be found pleasing to the Lord.
Notice that Abraham did not leave Haran and fully follow the Lord's command until the death of his father Terah. Terah was a roadblock between Abram and his doing the will of God. When Terah was removed from the scene, Abram was ready to move on in the things of God.
Terah is like the flesh and other things that hinder our progress in the things of God. You see, until those things are taken care of and "reckoned dead", Rom. 6:11, there will be little or no progress in your life for the glory of the Lord. What is your Terah this today? Oh, if you aren't exactly where the Lord wants you to be, you have a Terah. You have a roadblock between you and your doing what the Lord has told you to do. You know what has to happen when there is a Terah in your life or mine? That thing that serves as a station or a delay in your life or mine must go! What's holding you back this morning?
We all need to be careful that we do not stand in the way of others doing the will of God. If you aren't careful, you just might find yourself being a Terah to someone in your life. Don't let you lack of faith prevent someone else from following God fully!
C. The Cost Of Delay (vv. 11:32) - Abram's delay in this matter of obedience was costly to him. While he lingered in Haran precious years past him by. Those were years that could have been spent enjoying the best God had to offer. Instead, those years were spent watching the father he loved waste away. Those years were spent being grieved by the sins of a family still in the grip of idolatry.
The work of God is too precious and time is too short for us to hesitate in carrying out the orders we receive from Heaven. Why should we settle for second best while the wasted years pile up in our lives? Everyday brings us one day closer to the grave, let us determine in our hearts that we will make every moment count for the glory of the Lord.
God was so patient in His dealings with Abram! He gave him time to get things squared away in his life. But, it is far better for us to hear His voice and respond in immediate action for the glory of God! That is what Jesus did, and that is what the Lord wants for you and me too! Have you been putting something off that God has told you to do? If so, the time for delay has past! Get busy carrying out the will of God. Delay is dangerous and it is costly.
I. ABRAM'S PAST OBSCURITY: THE WRETCHED YEARS
II. ABRAM'S PARTIAL OBEDIENCE: THE WASTED YEARS
III. ABRAM'S PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITIES: THE WONDER YEARS (vv. 12:1-3)
At the age of 75, this man named Abram finally makes his break with the old life. He leaves out from Haran on the great adventure of faith. These verses tell us that after all the wretched years in defilement and the all wasted years in delay that God reserved some wonderful years of delight for this servant of God. Notice the qualities of these wonder years.
A. To Walk In God's Presence (vv. 12:1) - This man Abram has been called out of the gross darkness of sin to walk in the presence of the Lord. This verse implies that God intends to lead Abram in the way he should go. God Himself will direct this man's pathway.
There is nothing in this world more precious then walking with God by faith! The faith walk puts you in a place of dependence upon the Lord and He will not let you down. Those who lean solidly upon the Lord need never fear that He will leave them or desert them. They need never fear that will God fail them as they lean their weight upon Him!
B. To Watch God's Providence (vv. 12:1-3a)- God makes some grand promises to Abram in these verses. Look at all the things God promises to give this great man:
•A New Home
•A Great Name
•Abram Will Be A Blessing
•God Will Protect Him From His Enemies
•God Will Bless His Friends
•All The World Will Blessed Through Abram's Faith
Abram doesn't know yet how God will work it all out, but he knows that God will do it. His faith has grown to the place where he is willing to trust God and just leave the details to the providence of the Lord. He is willing to live by faith day by day as the Lord works out His plan and purpose in his life! By the way, everything God promised to give to Abram, He did give him! He kept His promises to the letter. Also notice that some of these things are still being worked out today and that God will faithfully continue to work our His promises to Abram until all are fulfilled!
That is where He wants to bring us as well. He wants us to come to the place where we can simply take Him at His Word and be satisfied in our hearts that He will do what He has promised to do.
Regardless of what the devil, the flesh and the world tell us, we can trust God. Every one of His promises is true! You can depend on Him to take care of you if you will live your life by faith. He will look after those who lean on Him!
Have you reached the place where you can rest in the arms of divine providence and know that will take care of you? That is where we all need to be! Remember, no matter how life looks, God is doing what He does for you good, Rom. 8:28.)
C. To Wonder At God's Purposes (vv. 12:3b) - As Abram began this journey of faith he must have questioned how God could take an old idolater and make him a blessing to all the families of the earth. When he died a hundred years later at the age of 175 he still did not have the answer to that question. But, this man Abram died in faith. That faith was counted for righteousness and when he died, he went to a place called paradise.
When Abram left Haran, he did so with all his hopes hidden in his heart. He held all the unseen things of the future in the hand of faith. He trusted God to take care of it and the Lord fulfilled every promise, just as He had said that He would!
As we live this life of faith in this world, there will be times when we cannot see the way. There will be days when we too will wonder how God could ever do anything with the likes of us! There will be times when we will have to walk by faith and not sight. Of course, some people just can't do that! If they can't see how it should be done, they won't do it! If they can't explain it, then they avoid it. Those folks never grow! The people God uses greatly are those who will walk obediently wherever the path of God leads them; whether they understand it or not, whether they like it or not, whether they know what will happen or not. Those are the people who get to see the Lord part the seas. They see the multitudes fed. They get to walk on the water. They walk unharmed through the fiery furnaces and lion dens of life. They live life by faith and they get to see the Lord do the impossible over and over again.
Closing: There is an old saying that goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." It took Abram a while, but he made that step. When he did, he saw God do things that amazed him until the day he died.
I wonder, have you made that first step of faith? Have you made the step of faith for salvation? Have you made the step of faith that will take you beyond the hum drum, ordinary run of the mill life into that other worldly realm where God operates and uses people like us for His glory? You and I will never be all we can be for Him until we cut our ties with this world and cast ourselves on Him by faith! God help each of us to do just that today!