12 1The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
Dear believers in Jesus,
Years ago, there were seminars where people were asked to go through a “trust exercise.” The one I attended had each participant stand on a table, cross their arms over their chest, close their eyes, and fall back into the waiting arms of the other attendees – usually 3 to 4 people on each side to catch you.
A lot of things go through your mind while you’re standing on the table getting up the courage to do this. As I remember, there were several who hopped right up on the table and fell backward; a few hesitated but then fell back; and at least one hesitated for a longer while and then got down off the table.
It was all about faith. By falling back into the arms of the people who were either friends or strangers, we were declaring that we had the confidence that the people behind us would still be there and that they would catch us – we trusted them.
A Christian’s life is all about faith. We are putting our physical and spiritual life into the hands of the one true God. Much of our life is unknown. Because it is unknown, we hesitate, or we don’t trust God at all. The things we don’t hesitate about are the things that are known – we’ve experienced God’s loving and protecting hands before. Out text, as well as the companion readings for today, tell us that we don’t need to be afraid of the unknown; we don’t need to hesitate. IT’S ALL ABOUT FAITH!
Abraham understood that truth in a big way. The LORD told Abraham to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household (his extended family) and go to a place the LORD would show him. Talk about unknowns; talk about a reason to hesitate! And yet, we don’t hear Abraham complaining, or muttering something under his breath, or questioning the LORD, or simply refusing to do it.
I would agree that that would be hard for any of us: to pack up everything and leave family, friends, country – everything we are comfortable with – to go to an unknown destination. Many of us would question the process AND we would want to know the details. But remember, IT’S ALL ABOUT FAITH!
God’s command included another part – a good part – it included a couple of promises. The LORD told Abraham that he would make him into a great nation. Hold it! How would that happen? Abraham’s 75 years old, and his wife was unable to have children, and he’s going to become a great nation? You must be kidding. But remember, IT’S ALL ABOUT FAITH!
Then the LORD told Abraham that he would make his name great – everyone would know him. Now Abraham had a solid reputation as a well-to-do cattleman. But the LORD was talking about something far greater. Abraham would be remembered for time and for eternity because he would be identified as God’s friend, as the father of all believers, as the father of the Israelite nation, and the ancestor of the Messiah – Jesus Christ.
Abraham was saved by faith in Jesus and in him alone. That’s what makes the Bible record of Abraham’s life so important. Abraham was saved the very same way sinners are saved today. There is only one way to salvation . . . one way to heaven . . . and that is to trust the promises of God that center on the life and work of Jesus, the Messiah. IT’S ALL ABOUT FAITH – faith in Jesus Christ alone.
It took FAITH to leave all behind and go to Canaan. Once in the land of Canaan, they came to the city of Shechem. There the LORD reassured Abraham of the fact that he would give the land of Canaan – the Promised land – to his descendants. So, Abraham set up an altar there and worshiped the LORD. In a heathen nation, who worshiped false gods, Abraham demonstrated his faith by openly worshiping the only true God. He did the same at Bethel.
Now, you and I may never be asked to do exactly the same thing Abraham was asked to do, but we have many kinds of “journeys” of our own. Those “journeys” require the same kind of faith that Abraham demonstrated, things like: we may change jobs; we may struggle in our marriage; we may undergo surgery; we may have to deal with Cancer treatments; we may buy a new house or car; we may struggle with some nagging sin that we repeat over and over again; we may want to share the Gospel with others but we are unsure how or when to do so. These, and many more things, require trust in the true God – the God of our salvation. When we look at these challenges, we realize that we have no power of our own to accomplish them. We trust in God’s power and love to help us in every situation.
There is but one source of hope and one reason to believe, and that source and that reason is Jesus. We are all sinners, saved by the blood of Jesus. We are all forgiven, and that forgiveness is won by Jesus. The Samaritan woman and Abraham, the father of all believers, had the same need for Jesus and his saving work on the cross that we had. This gift of salvation gives us all hope for the future and peace with our God. By faith in Jesus, we can face any temptation, any sin, any health issue, any relationship problem, any slander, any evil thoughts with the strength and courage and trust that only God can provide.
Thank God that he kept his promise to send a Savior to rescue us from sin and its consequences. Thank God that he saved you and me and every human being. Thank God that he directs our way through the messy things of life. Thank God that he uses us to carry out the things he wants us to do. Thank God that he gives us so many opportunities to worship him and study his Word. Thank God that he has given us parents that encourage us to stay faithful to the LORD our whole life. Thank God for the many pastors and teachers that have kept us focused on Jesus. Thank God for making us members of his family and heirs of heaven.
IT’S ALL ABOUT FAITH! The next journey is homeward bound – home to heaven. Only this time no packing is required. We won’t care about the past, because our eternal future is ahead of us. In heaven, we will worship the LORD in all of his glory and surrounded in his glory. We will be reunited with all believers. We will enjoy perfection. We will celebrate the eternal presence of our Savior. We will wear his robe of righteousness for all eternity. We will never know sin again. That’s what faith in Jesus gives us. Rejoice, my friends, rejoice! Amen.