Step by step, God initiated – Abraham responded.
Lesson 26 from The HOPE Study Guide
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
– Genesis 12:1–3
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
– Hebrews 11:8
From among the nations of the earth God called out a man, who is known to us as Abraham. God told Abraham to leave his home and go to a land He would show him. Abraham did as God said, taking all his people and possessions. God promised that Abraham would possess this land, and become the father a great nation. And through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. It was a peculiar promise, for Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had no children of their own. But Abraham obeyed God just the same, and led his people to the land of Canaan.
– The HOPE, Chapter 5
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
In the previous lesson we saw how God brought about the nations of the world. We also learned that God’s plan will ultimately bring unity and blessing to the nations and glory to God. In this lesson we will consider an event that marks a very significant step toward that end.
From among all the nations God called out one man named Abraham. We can only imagine how it went when Abraham told his wife, Sarah, what he heard from God.
Abraham: We’re going to pack up and leave our home.
Sarah: Why would we do that?
Abraham: Because God said so.
Sarah: Why would He do that?
Abraham: Because God is going to make me the father of a great nation, and He is going to bless all the nations through me.
Sarah: But we don’t even have children.
Abraham: I know.
Sarah: And neither of us is young.
Abraham: I know.
Sarah: So where are we going?
Abraham: I don’t know.
Abraham had nothing on which to base his actions…nothing but his faith in God. But he took the step that God told him to take. And today, Abraham is known as the father of three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.1 He is without question one of the most significant figures in all of history. His name appears in the Bible over 260 times, often as an example of a man of great faith.
From this story, observe two things about Abraham’s faith:
1. God was the initiator of Abraham’s faith walk. God told Abraham to journey from his home and that He would make him the father of a great nation and a blessing to all the nations. Abraham did not dream up the idea and then say, “If I believe it enough (or work hard enough for it), then it will come to pass.” Hebrews 11:1 tell us that faith is “the conviction of things not seen.” Abraham had a conviction from God about a future he could not see. That is Biblical faith. He received a promise from God; he believed it; and he acted upon it.
2. Abraham responded to God one step at a time. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that those who trust in God “walk by faith not by sight.” A walk requires one step at a time. Although Abraham had a conviction from God about where his faith journey would end (as a blessing to all nations), he didn’t have any idea how it would all unfold. Abraham knew only the next step that God was calling him to take – to leave his home and journey to another land.
ASK & REFLECT
- What similarities do you see between the faith of Noah (Lesson 23) and the faith of Abraham?
- If you were in Abraham’s place, how do you think you would have responded to God’s call? Why?
- What does it take for someone to respond to God the way that Abraham responded to God?
DECIDE & DO
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created by God for “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Notice from this verse that God is the One who prepares the good work beforehand. It begins with God. Like Abraham, we don’t dream up our purpose, and it certainly is not our role to make it come to pass. Our role is to walk in it, like Abraham, one step at a time.
In order for Abraham to hear the call of God, he had to be listening. And you can’t recognize His voice if you don’t know Him. For more on knowing God, go to the Knowing God section at the end of this study guide.
If you believe that God has called you to do something (i.e., prepare for a career, look for a new job, etc.), don’t worry about the end goal. Ask God to show you the first step, and then by faith, take it.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
- M. G. Easton, Abraham. (Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1897). (http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionaries/dict_meaning. php?source=1&wid=T0000054). Retrieved from GospelCom.Net on November 10, 2006.
- Dr. Charles Stanley, What Is Faith? (© In Touch Ministries, 2006. From The Charles Stanley Handbook for Christian Living, © Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 2006). (http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=faith_vs_reason_article). Retrieved October 10, 2006.
- John Piper, The Faith of Noah, Abraham and Sarah. (© Desiring God Ministries, 1997). (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-faith-of-noah-abraham-and-sarah).Retrieved October 10. 2006.
1Abraham. (http://www.answers.com/topic/abraham). Retrieved October 10, 2006.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB