Saturday, 3 March 2012

Hall of Faith Series: Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19)

Well, it's time I did another 'Hall of Faith Series' post. It's been a while, hasn't it?  But, here I go now!

Today's Hall of Faith characters are Abraham and Sarah. They are indeed one of my favourites. However, I cannot adequately convey by a long shot the faith of these great characters, considering that the Bible places them as the father and mother of the faithful. Probably, that's why I've delayed so long in writing this post. 

They were not without failings and weaknesses, of course. The Bible records several of these. However, in spite of this, God's grace was made truly manifest in them, with everlastingly glorious consequences in their lives and history. 

In Hebrews' 'Hall of Faith' list, it says this about Abraham: 
'By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing wither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.' (Hebrews 11:8-10)
 I always find these words amazing and challenging for me. God gave Abraham a command and a promise. With this, Abraham had a drastic and life-changing choice to make - one that would change history forever. One was a life of ease in a familiar and constant world with all his relatives and friends around him, but out of God's will, command and promises. The other was a life of hardship, weariness, and perhaps, hardest of all, loneliness away from his relatives and friends. To top it all, it was a life of total uncertainty, humanly speaking - no securities. God told him to go, but did not tell him where to. However, with this choice, came a life with God. What did Abraham choose? He chose to obey God and he did go. He believed God. He trusted His word, His promises. He chose the harder life - 'not knowing wither he went'. But He now knew the Guide and that was all that mattered for him. 

I remember once hearing a reflection from someone about this. That person observed how his little kids reacted to being taken around in the car without having any idea of what was going on or where they were being taken. Sometimes they would be placed in and out of the car while sleeping. They would go without a question or struggle. The only thing the children were concerned about was to be with their parents. They trusted their parents and knew that as long as they were around, it did not matter where they were. That is what our faith in God should be like. Trusting and child-like. That is what Abraham had.

When the Lord led him to Canaan and gave it all to him as an inheritance for his descendants, he immediately knew where his true country was. He knew by faith that this was only a shadow and what country really mattered was the eternal heavenly city, built by God. That is where he laid his treasure.   

Hebrews continues by saying that,  
'By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promise offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.' (Hebrews 11: 17-19)
Again, this passage just amazes me. It was the hardest thing that God ever called Abraham to do. After God had promised and given the son. After waiting for him for so long, God asked Abraham to offer him up. I find this to be difficult in my life. I guess it is difficult for all of us. Sometimes, it is a dream or vision or hope. Perhaps you know in your heart that it is from God, but then God comes and seems to ask for it back. You question and wonder. What Abraham did was to surrender, but he did not have to surrender his faith in God. What mattered to him was not so much in what way God was to fulfill his promise, but that He would. He knew God and trusted Him. No wonder he was called 'friend of God'! Oh God, give me - us this faith. There is always a resurrection. I believe this. God was very pleased with this obedience of faith, and 'resurrected' his son in a manner of speaking. In it, I believe, he saw the Lamb of God, too. 

This is not all. Hebrews continues, saying:
'Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when shet was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many of the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.' (Hebrews 11:11-12)

I think that sometimes Sarah's moment of weakness in which she doubted the possibility of God's promise would be fulfilled through her (when she gave her maid-servant, Hagar, to Abraham) makes us forget that she still had great faith. But Sarah did believe and she did trust in God's faithfulness. As far as the Bible indicates, this was had never been heard of before that an old woman would bear a child. It was all faith. Elizabeth in the New Testament, at least had precedents to encourage her. Not Sarah. But the promise given to her was reinforced with these precious words, 'Is any thing too hard for the Lord?' (Genesis 18:14). My name is Sarah (I personally love that name!) and I always find this verse quite encouraging whenever I face humanly impossible things in my life - big or small. I want to have Sarah's faith and obedience - to judge Him faithful who promises. That's why Sarah is also called the mother of all faithful daughters of God (see 1 Peter 3:6). 

Oh so much more could be said about the faith of Abraham and Sarah, but I think I've kept you all too long. These were just some of my personal reflections. Their faith inspires me to press on and hold on to God even when the going is hard and all human reason screams 'doubt!'. Because of Abraham's faith and obedience, God gave him the greatest promise any human being could receive. Through his descendants, the Saviour of the world was given. All those who have the faith of Abraham and do his godly works, are true children of Abraham (see Galatians 3:7 and John 8:39). 

God bless - till the next 'Hall of Faith' series post:)


Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

Hi there Sarah, ah the men and women of faith who are ensamples to us in all that they have done before - in this we see the humanity of the men and women and how God works in spite of us not because of us!!
..and resurrects from that which is dead the living hope and promise of life to come with Him, thanks for this dear sister, love in Him, Shaz.xx
PS you know if you have moderation turned on your really dont need the word verification as well do you? Its okay if your a touch typer but not me tap look tap ar!

Sarah said...

You're always a great encouragement to me, Shaz.
Yes, I've always loved the stories of men and women of faith throughout history. They inspire me on my walk with the Lord.

Well, I've found a way to turn word verification off. I agree that it is quite cumbersome. I hope this better now.

God Bless,

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