(Hebrews 11:8-10) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The above passage refers God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12…
(Genesis 12:1-3) 1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
For Abraham, God’s call to him could not have come at a more earth shattering time. We read at the end of Genesis 11 that Abraham’s father had just passed away, after taking his entire family from their homeland and traveling towards Canaan. With his new responsibility to lead the family, no one would have faulted the “father of the faithful” if he had turned tail and ran back to Ur of the Chaldean’s. Yet out of nowhere the One True God calls to Abraham for the first time in his life and the shaken man responds (See Genesis 12:1-3 above).
God’s call to Abraham is an awesome world changing blessing, with a promised son for the childless father; a son who would make Abraham’s descendants too numerous to count. Yet the cost of the calling was extreme: leave your country, your immediate and extended family, and its culture and customs (Abraham’s world view, life practice, and religion). Although the promise of God’s inheritance to him was too magnificent to grasp, Abraham had to leave everything behind and trust God for promises that he would never fully see or fulfilled this side of heaven.
I was reminded of Hebrews 11:8-10 when the Lord called my family and I to leave the church I was privileged to pastor for 6 1/2 years. This fellowship had become our family in the faith–a place of ministry where the Holy Spirit had deepened the faith and practice of almost everyone in the church– a home which filled our lives with many God blessed memories–a calling, where we were entrusted with the growth of some of the most transformed Christians we have been blessed to see grow.
He called us to leave behind a neighborhood and community we loved and had sought to reach with the gospel for years. We left this all behind to begin the process of discipleship in another fellowship of saints, with all its promise and potential. This move at times was one of joyful anticipation, but also cautious optimism and at times sadness.
Remember that for Abraham inheriting the promised land, meant a lot of headaches, heart aches, failures, trials and looking to the future with hope, when little appeared to be happening. For me, the move spoke loudly that the promise of investing in His kingdom would reap a chorus of praise for Christ in heaven now and in the eternity to come. Yet we set out, endeavoring to be obedient to the call of God, not knowing what the ultimate end of this new season of ministry will be
We departed for Fostoria Ohio, knowing Jesus will never leave us or forsake us–that He will be faithful to His promise and power toward us, so long as we remain faithful to Him. We understand that being faithful to Him does not mean we are guaranteed to see all our desire for His people and His promises in this life. We must live by faith, trusting that in the difficult days to come, and they will come, if we hold fast our faith, He will reap a harvest in due time.
(Galatians 6:9) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
This “due season” is at times near and often off in the distance, because the call of God is not about moving up to better material situations for the called in Christ, but about greater faithfulness in the face of grater challenges against the kingdom of God. The call is about greater perseverance in the face of more difficulty and potential suffering on behalf of the Savior (Philippians 1:29). The call of God is also about more of the presence of Christ, as we trust Him in the midst of greater difficulties, sufferings and spiritual warfare. In light of these truths, what can we learn from Abraham’s “going out not knowing'”, which we can apply to our life for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord?
LIVING BY FAITH
There are many lessons we can learn from Abraham’s going out not knowing where He was going, but the most prominent one resonating with me, is living by faith. From the beginning of God’s call to him, all Abraham had to go on was the word of a God He did not fully know or understand. Although his nation, family land and culture were filled with pagans gods and abominable practices, none of them spoke or resonated like the word of Almighty God spoken to him. Like Saul meeting Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), where the Savior’s glory blinded the Pharisee, Saul also obeyed without knowing the way. In His new life the LORD expected him to follow. It is the same for us. Remember, He does not expect perfection, but a growing obedience based on trust.
How does that trust grow? Considering Abraham’s life, trusting and obedient faith grows through a series of promises and commands, which enabled his knowledge of God to grow, as he learns to trust the faithfulness of the LORD. We see this culminate in the LORD calling Him to sacrifice his son Issac.
Hebrews 11:17-19 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Let’s remove some of the shock to start. People usually consider Abraham a super saint with a statement like “I could never consider such a thing”. But let us follow the pattern of how God built Abraham’s faith, through promises, commands and the revelation of His Almighty character. In the first place, let us remember this was not a temptation to murder, but a test of Abraham’s fear and devotion to God (Genesis 22:1). God never intended the boy’s death, but his servant did not know that. In Abraham’s native culture, child sacrifice was normal and expected. Abraham would not have thought anything out of the ordinary, except that the boy would come back to life, being the promised seed.
This is why he answered Isaac “The LORD will Himself provide”, when asked where the sacrifice was. Yet as God’s pattern of promise, command, faithfulness and revelation, the LORD revealed His holy character as above all other pretended god’s; He was not a death dealing pretended god, but the God whom gives and sustains all the life He created. What is the point?
In our walk with Christ, upon completion of a task, season of life, or ministry calling, He will call us once again to go out not knowing where we are going. The purpose is to deepen our faith in His word–to engender greater operational trust to obey His commands and to reveal more of Himself to us; which will draw us into a deeper intimacy of relationship. At times the call is overwhelming, but don’t lose heart. Draw upon His faithfulness from the past. Hold to His last instruction in your present calling and His word for affirmation of direction.
I have learned the place I am safest and most in line with His will, is when I have gone out…TRUSTING HIM… even though I may not know where I am going, or what is around the next corner.
Philippians 3:7-11 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.