All these died in faith, without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance,
and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Abraham is the most well-known patriarch of the Hebrew faith, and by spiritual birth, the father of all who become his spiritual children through Christ (Romans 4:13-17). He and his wife, Sarah, are given premium space in the Hebrews 11 hall of fame; their story covers twelve verses, more than any other Old Testament saint. Abraham’s faith is the stuff of legends.
Abraham’s story begins in Genesis 12 when the Lord calls him as a 75-year-old man to leave his homeland of Ur. He begins a journey of trusting God to fulfill the promises He made in supernatural ways, until his death at the ripe old age of 175. He was an ordinary man God used to build the nation through whom the Savior came. Like a highlight reel, Hebrews 11 shines the spotlight on three aspects of Abraham’s faith that allowed God to use him to impact the world.
#1 – Abraham’s faith in God did not require all the details.
Hebrews 11:8 – By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
How would you respond if God asked you to pack up your home, your wife, and your relatives, get in the car and start driving with no idea where you were going or what to expect when you get there? The lack of a clear, defined plan and the expected outcome would cause us to think twice before obeying. While Abraham might have had questions in his heart and mind, he didn’t hesitate to obey. God’s command was clear; that was the only detail he needed.
#2 – Abraham’s faith was focused on his eternal future, not his momentary present.
Hebrews 11:9-10 – By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
For one hundred years, Abraham lived as a nomad in tents, traveling from place to place as his feet walked the land that God would one day give his descendants as an inheritance. God had promised to make him a great nation, to bless all the families of the earth through him. He never saw those promises fulfilled but his faith remained firm. He knew God worked in the spiritual realm, and the physical realm was simply the scaffolding. The circumstances of his physical life never measured up to God’s promises. Instead of a nation, he had two sons, one of which he had to send away. He lived his whole life as an alien and a stranger in a land that didn’t belong to him. If he had measured God’s faithfulness by what he could see with his physical eyes, he would have missed the promises entirely. He chose to put his faith in the spiritual, which he could not see, but that was as real to him as his own flesh and blood son.
#3 – Abraham’s faith revealed a right view of God’s power and authority.
Hebrews 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
Abraham’s most famous “faith test” was the day God sent him up to the mountain to sacrifice the promised heir, Isaac. All of God’s promises were wrapped up in Isaac, the miracle child born to him and Sarah in their old age. By this time, perhaps forty years after God had called him out of Ur, Abraham knew God’s voice very well. There was no mistaking what God was asking him to do. By faith, Abraham obeyed. He bound his son to the altar and drew back his hand to plunge the knife into his heart, fully surrendering to God’s authority and fully believing that God had the power to raise him from the dead. His faith never wavered because He had a right understanding of who God is.
Can we have faith like Abraham? That’s asking a lot! Would we be willing to leave everything we know and follow God without all the necessary details that give us some assurance and expectations? Are we willing to let go of all the clutter and possessions that have our hearts and live as a stranger and an alien, servants of a spiritual kingdom we cannot see? Is our faith grounded in a proper view of God’s power and authority, or do we hesitate to give up all control and all our lifelong hopes to His plans?
The faith of Abraham inspires us to look beyond our physical circumstances and see God as He truly is. May we all strive to have faith like Abraham.
Hebrews 11:16 – But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Dear Father, Thank you for the example of Abraham’s faith. Our heart’s desire is to have that same kind of trust in You, fully surrendering control over unknown details to the God who always keeps His promises. Give us the courage to trust You more than our fears, our hesitations, or our human logic. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.