University Bible Fellowship of
Toronto
           
 
           
 
 
Bible Search 

THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM

Hebrews 11:8-11:22
Key Verse: 11:8

Through last week's message we learned of what is faith and how can we please God. We came to know that our spiritual ancestors were recognized by God by their faith. Especially we learned of the faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah. They all became heir of the righteousness through their faith.

Today’s passage is about Abraham's faith. Abraham is called 'the father of faith'. God began to establish His own people through this one man. May God teach us of Abraham's faith so that we may grow in our own faith.

I. By faith Abraham obeyed and went (8-10)

Read verse 8. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

Abraham’s family was living in Ur Of The Chaldees which was located in southern Mesopotamia, near the Euphrates River. That was located in southeast province of Babylon and southern Iraq in modern days. Abraham’s ancestors were idol worshippers. Abraham’s father Terah was doing idol making business and Abraham’s family god was moon god according to the scholars. Abraham was born and grew in such an environment. But Abraham met the true God and came out of the land of the idols. That was purely by God’s grace. By God’s unidirectional grace he believed in God and started a new life in Him. According to Talmud, the Jewish Rabbi’s wisdom book, there is a story about Abraham and his father Terah. One day when Terah went out Abraham smashed all the idols his father had made with a hammer except the largest one and placed his hammer on the largest idol's hand. When Terah came back and he was angry to find out what had happened. He asked Abraham, "Why did you do that?" Then Abraham answered, “The largest idol broke all the small guys.” Then Terah said, “How can this dead idol do that?” Then Abraham asked, “Father, why then do you make the dead idols and sell to the people?” So Terah repented. We don't know this is true or not because this is not from the Bible.

In Genesis 12:1 God called Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” This was the first test of Abraham’s life. Look at verse 8 again. This verse implies that it was a difficult task and required faith because he did not know where he was going.

How could he leave if he did not know where he was going? We go to school or work every day comfortably because we know where we are going. And sometimes when we don't know where we are going, we do Google search and it provides us the exact location on the map with descriptions and some pictures. Obviously Abraham did not have such things.

Abraham obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going. That was his first expression of faith. His faith was action causing faith. His faith was completely trusting faith. His faith was entrusting faith all things to God. He believed in God's goodness for him. He believed that God will provide. He believed that God will protect him as He promised.

Read verse 9,10 "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

Verse 9 tells us how was Abraham's life in the promised land. He lived like ‘a stranger in a foreign country’. When Abraham arrived at the land of Canaan, God said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” And the Bible says, “…the Canaanites were in the land.” After a long journey with his family Abraham arrived in the land God had promised. But the land was not an empty land. People were already there. The Canaanites were cooking rice, boiling soup and their kids were playing in the streets. They looked at Abraham and his family with curious eyes. Abraham might expect an empty fertile land reserved for him. But the reality was not like that. He had to stay in this promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.

Initially he arrived at Shechem and he had to move to Bethel and the next to Negev. But during this course of life here he did one thing faithfully. He lived altar building life and called the name of the Lord. What this mean? He worshipped God wherever he went and prayed in thanks. He listened to God seeking His will and obeyed what God said. He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob with whom God gave the same promise. The life of a stranger in a foreign country is not easy. There are issues with language, culture, security, and food. In many ways, Abraham was helpless. But he grew in his trust and faith in God living in this promised land and his love relationship with God was getting closer and more intimate.

God’s promise to Abraham was a promise to bless and a promise to make him a blessing to all nations. And this promise was inherited to his descendants, Isaac and Jacob and his children. Like Isaac and Jacob, we are heirs of God’s promise. We need to claim this promise of God to use as the source of blessing for many nations. We do that by being obedient to his word and by leaving behind anything that may hinder our faith and distract us from God. Without obedience, Abraham would have never experience of God's goodness. Without cutting off worldly hindrances, he never would have learned what faith is.

II. Longing for a better country (13-16)

Read verse 13. "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth."

The promise that was given to Abraham was not fulfilled for many generations. However Abraham and his descendants did not give up their faith. They saw them and welcomed them from a distance and lived on earth as foreigners and strangers. They trusted that God would do because God had promised. And they welcomed the fulfillment of God's promise from a far distance. Jesus in John 8:56 said "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."

It is a beautiful picture when we say of someone’s life that they lived and died by faith. Charles Spurgeon wrote “Faith is as precious to die by as to live by.” One modern example would be M. Jim Elliot who wanted to share the gospel to Huaorani tribe who were outstanding hunters and feared warriors in Ecuador jungle. However he and his mission team were all killed before they arrived in the village. He was only 28 years old when he was martyred. But we know that he died by faith and is still alive by his faith. The hunters of Huaorani tribe who killed Jim repented. And his grandchildren are serving God's mission in this area.

Read verse 16. "Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

God's promise to Abraham looked like about a blessing on earth. But that was not limited on earthly life only. As they walked with God patiently enduring great hardships they learned of the eternal God. They began to realize that their life on earth was a pilgrimage going toward God's eternal kingdom. So by faith they began to long for a better country, heavenly one. They could have chances to go back to their home country but they did not because they knew that God prepared for them a city of God which is in heaven.

The word 'pilgrim' means in Greek, a 'temporary sojourner'. It has the same meaning as a 'visitor'. We are all visitors to this planet. As we know worldly people do not confess that they are 'strangers on the earth'. They live as if they live eternally here. But believers who have the promise of God live like a visitor. They live with a hope to return to their eternal home country, God's heavenly kingdom. Job confessed a similar faith, "After my skin has been destroyed... I will see God." (Job 19:26) What is God's reward to such people? Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. God referred to Himself as 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' in Ex 3:15. This is a significant grace that God identifies Himself with a person. Wouldn't it be great that the Creator God likes to identify Himself with your name? We have Abraham among us. (He memorized today's passage, a long, a double portion of last week's passage excellently.), Someday God will proudly present "I am the God of Abraham Lee, the son of James Lee".

Fany Crossby was born in 1820. When she was six weeks old some man pretending to be a licensed doctor came to treat her eye infection. And he did a wrong treatment and scared her eyes and she was blinded from that treatment, blinded for rest of her life. Fany Crossby was incredibly used of God and wrote over 8000 hymns which we still sing today. Fany Crossby went to a preacher one time and the preacher said, "Fany, God blessed you so much showered down blessings but isn't it pity that he didn't bless you with sight?" She said to him, "You know when I was born, I would have one petition to make to the Lord. I would ask God to make me blind." He said, "Owe why would you do that?" And she said, "Because when I die, the very first face I will ever see would be the face of my Saviour who died for me." Fany Crossby was one of the believers who were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Obviously when she died at the age of 95, the first face she saw was the face of Jesus Christ and Jesus would not be ashamed to be God of Fany Crossby. He would say, "Well done my faithful child! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your father' happiness!"

III. The test of faith (17-22)

Read verses 17-19. " By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death."

More than any other instance this final exam solidified Abraham as a great man of faith. God finally gave him a son and fulfilled his promise. But just as Abraham received him from God , God is asking Abraham to give him away. In Genesis 22:2 God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." In this verse some people think "This is ridiculous and crazy. How can God ask such thing? So cruel and so merciless" Amazingly there was no complaining from Abraham. No demand for an explanation. No pleading. Actually, it’s almost peaceful the way Abraham obeyed. When Isaac asks him on the way where the sacrifice is, Abraham does not break down into tears but calmly and with faith says, “The Lord will provide.” How could Abraham be so obedient and responsive to God?

Abraham came to know God. He knew God so personally and intimately that he could not doubt of God's certain intention behind this command. Abraham knew that God was just, faithful, loving, trustworthy, and powerful. So Abraham even believed that if Isaac died God would bring him back from the dead because God said 'through Isaac his offspring will be reckoned'. Abraham fully submitted to God’s will because he was confident in who God is.

Man grows in God through the circumstances of life. We know God by submitting to his will and obeying him by faith. How do we know God if we never put our trust in him or sacrificed anything for him or if we always lived in accordance with our own will? Abraham’s life of faith was a progression. Acts of obedience that revealed a little more about who God was to him. So when the ultimate test came he was ready.

Some scholars say that the geographical location of the mountain of Mariah is the same as Golgotha. In that sense God considered Abraham as His true friend allowing him this event so that Abraham may taste the same heart breaking as God would taste through His Son Jesus Christ. The picture of sacrificing Isaac is very similar to that of Jesus Christ. Isaac takes wood which will be used to burn him as sacrifice and Jesus Christ carries the cross on which he would be crucified. Isaac asks his father, "Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Jesus cries to God, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Abraham's heart was ripped in pain when he had to let his son killed as a burnt offering. God's heart was ripped in pain when he had to see His own Son died on the cross.

God sent an angel to stop Abraham's sacrifice but He did not stop when was being crucified. God had to watch all the process of Jesus crucifixion and accept the whole pain into His own heart. John testifies of this love in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life". When St. Sundar Singh of India travelled Himalayan villages and he saw a house set in fire. Strangely some people stopped carrying water to quench the fire and watched a tree which was burning. There was a nest on the tree and little baby birds were chirping in it. And a mother bird was hovering around it. Finally as fire swallowed the nest the mother bird jumped into the nest and covered the babies with her wings burning together. Sundar Singh realized at the moment that the Son of God died like the mother bird because of His love.

I pray each of us may grow in our faith like Abraham and come to know God and His love very personally. This may mean challenges and struggles in life. But that’s how we come to know about how good God is. How do you know a true friend? Not in the good times, but in the bad times. God is the true and sovereign God and he will never forsake or abandon us.

Abraham was not a perfect man and he had human limitations but God is not ashamed to be called his God because of his enduring faith and obedience. May we also follow the example of Abraham and seek to please God in our individual lives. May we know God through decision making faith.

Let’s read the key verse.

Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

(Written by Peter Moon)

UBF headquarters | Chicago UBF | UBF TV | Northwestern UBF | Washington UBF | New York UBF | Europe UBF  | Email Us | Site Admin
Home