It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, though God had promised him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
One of My Heroes
Abraham is one of my heroes. I don’t throw around that term loosely like, “oh he has such a cool story and had a really cool impact for God.” When I say hero I mean I’m going to dedicate my life to resembling their life. From late 2011 into the Spring of 2012 I spent about 8 months with Abraham – reading everything, literally everything, that had been written about him that is available in English. I’ve yet to read every commentary on Genesis and I’ve only had an elementary exposure to Islamic sources on Abraham. But I feel like I can honestly say I know and love his character.
He knew God so intimately, so deeply and he pursued and trusted him so desperately. There is nothing normal about Abraham’s approach to life when he was convinced God was involved. He believed impossible things, made bad business decisions, went to ill advised locations – and just silenced every single person along the way. Not because he was such a great guy, but he became so convinced of the involvement of God in every situation that his life became a massive occasion of foolishness. And it would have remained that way if God had not desired to show the glory of the foolish cross through Abraham. In retrospect, as we examine his life, especially the parts highlighted in Hebrews, we are able to see the Gospel explode.
God’s Doing and Our Reward
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. 1 Corinthians 1:27a
Hebrews 11 mounts a massive display of God glory shown through the faithfulness of his people. And the God-centeredness of it all. Namely, that God is the source of endurance for the faithful. His faithfulness upholds their own, and then by their faithfulness his servants are rewarded and He receives the glory. Do you see the cycle – God is the beginning, middle and end of the cycle of faith. And by getting caught up in it, we receive a reward we had very little to do with.
As the author moves from general explanations of faith, its definition and power, he moves into specific examples, of which Abraham is the fourth. A host of truths jump out from this section but there is one which rises above and becomes essential for understanding why the author spends so much time on the character of Abraham.
Faith leads to action and Hebrews records half a dozen actions that came about by faith: understanding, bringing, taking, building, leaving, and birthing. Faith moves us to do – and the reward for this part of faith is that we see God DO, incredible impossible things.
A Steadfast Faith
However, Abraham had another step. His faith led him to do, to go but then it asked of him something which is not as clear in other narratives; it asked him to stay.
Stepping out in faith, as difficult as it is, is still easier than remaining by faith. The word itself carries a tone of discomfort: enduring. Abraham endured. His faith led him into a place and then that same face by God’s direction kept him there.
The beautiful truth is this, different avenues of faith display different aspects of God. The action steps of faith showed God as the all-powerful doer who works all things together for His glory and our good. The enduring faith of Abraham shows an intimate God. A God who does not simply want to wipe away your mess, he wants to enter it. He wants to walk with you through it – not help you run away from it. He wants to take slow steps. Slowly, your eyes will shift their focus off the trial onto his face. Then you will be invincible.
God used the trial of time to weigh Abraham into endurance and turned his gaze heavenward. As Hebrews will show, it worked.
*To see how the Gospel was preached through Abraham’s life check out my post at Before the Cross titled The Prize without the Price.
Question: Who is one of your Biblical heroes?