The Demonstration of Faith through Abraham
Hebrews 11:8-19 (Pastor Heo)
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. 9 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. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
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. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 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.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not seen (not yet seen).
By faith in Christ, we can “see” God and heaven and eternal life – we can live heavenly life on earth and overcome any problems on this earth. By faith we can please God, and make him happy by our faith.
- Today’s story is the demonstration of faith through Abraham.
- Last Sunday: Noah
Abram = 12th generation from Noah. He was born in BC 2000 in Mesopotamia (maybe somewhere in Iraq). God’s calling of Abram is a great turning point in Genesis, human, Jewish history.
Genesis has 50 chapters – and can be divided into 2 parts.
- Chp 1-11 = Primeval history
- Chp 12-50 = Patriarchal history
Primeval history =
Creation, flood, spread of language and culture (tower of Babel)
Patriarchal history =
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
God promised Abram a son, but they waited 25 years for the fulfillment of that promise.
Abram -> Isaac -> Esau / Jacob
Jacob built the nation of Israel through the birth of his 12 sons, and Joseph saved them from a great famine at that time. Many years later, Moses delivered the people from Egypt in the Exodus.
Faith & obedience go together.
Service and action is outward evidence of inward trust and loving hearts.
Today, let us see some characteristics of REAL faith. But first, let me ask: are you living by faith?
#1 Abraham obeyed God even when he didn’t know WHERE he was going.
“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. 9 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. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
In Genesis, the background (chp 12) God called Abram and said, “Leave your country – leave your father’s house and go to the land I’ll show you. I’ll make you into a great nation. I’ll make you a blessing, and all nations on earth will be blessed through you.” So… Abram left everything.
Imagine this situation: in this world, in the time of our great grandparents, most people lived in their home village and died there. It was much better to live in your home village than in a foreign land.
4000 years ago, the life of a stranger in a strange land was VERY dangerous. They were met with scorn, discrimination, and hatred.
But Abram left for a foreign land. “Where to?” “I don’t know.”
Can you move to an unknown country? But this faith of Abraham was faith that was ready for adventure.
Most of us live a cautious life on the principle of safety first. But as a Christian, we must have a certain type of wreckless willingness to accept and follow the voice of God who is calling us. Sometimes, we must accept and follow even when we don’t know where we are going.
If you can see EVERY step of the journey, that is not faith – it is sight.
Abram was living in tents, in a foreign land because he had to be ready to move again anytime God called him.
Also, 1 Pet 2:11 says “My dear friends, I urge you as aliens, strangers, and foreigners in this world to abstain from your sinful desires.” We also are strangers and aliens in this world. We must recognize that this world is a bridge to the next world. As Christians, therefore, we should not build our homes on the bridge.
“I’m a pilgrim for eternity.”
v. 10 “He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (heaven)
1. By faith, obedience without knowing where he was going.
#2 Abram obeyed even when he didn’t know HOW the promise would be fulfilled.
“11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
In Genesis 17, Abram was almost 100 years old and Sarai was 90 years old. God appeared again and made the same promise of a son. When Abram heard this, he fell down and laughed. He said, “Will a son be born to a 100 year old man?” Sarai also laughed and said, “Will I now have this kind of pleasure?”
This means, they did NOT believe at first – because they were believing with human logic (it was too late; this promise was too great). But finally, they believed.
Romans 4:18-20 “Against all hope, Abram in hope believed. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that he was as good as dead, but he did not waver in his faith, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. He knew nothing is impossible with God.”
In our lives, we can see that there are MANY impossible things. But we must believe that there is NOTHING impossible with God.
This will happen by the power of God, not by the power of Abram nor Sarai. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a 100 year old man to get a son through the womb of his 90 year old wife. From a reproductive point of view, they were “as good as dead.”
But living by faith means believing there is NOTHING impossible with God.
Also with our own salvation, this is the same as how they got a son by the power of God.
Actually, many people do not believe the good news of the gospel. Why not? The message of the gospel is so simple, powerful and clear: Jesus died for your sin and mine, and rose again from the dead. If you believe in him and confess with your mouth he is Lord, you will be saved eternally, once for all.
This is all.
We have nothing to do – because God did everything for our salvation.
But many people don’t believe. Why not? It’s TOO good, too simple, too easy. But, please believe. If you open your hearts and your mouth and confess, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But many people do not believe this good news because the good news is far TOO good to believe.
2. Abram obeyed without knowing HOW the promise would be fulfilled.
#3 Abram obeyed even though he didn’t know WHEN the promise would be fulfilled.
“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. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 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.”
The “better country” is heaven. Yes, we know God promised Abram land (and children) as an inheritance (also for his children). What land is that? Canaan. It is called the Promised Land.
As we know, in the whole time / life of Abram, that promise was not fulfilled. So, all the time he lived in tents. He never settled in Canaan.
Also, his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob, and great grandson Joseph – never settled in Canaan. They all lived as foreigners in this world. They did not see the fulfillment of that promise before they died. But Abram’s faith had PATIENCE.
To wait is harder than to adventure.
The hardest time is the time in between.
At the moment of decision, there is excitement. At the moment of success, there is satisfaction. But in the in between time… it is necessary to wait… to walk… to watch…
But the “man” (Person) of faith is one whose hope is flaming bright and effort is strenuous – even when there is nothing to do but to wait.
Abram’s faith was faith that was looking beyond this world.
Yes, to be patient is not easy, but the secret: to look BEYOND this world. Also, the conviction / assurance that God WILL keep his promise: either instantly or eternally. Our prayer WILL be answered – but will it be instantly? Or distantly?
Obviously, we all like instant (instant food) – but the answer for them, was distant – distant in heaven.
Despite everything, the Person of faith never loses their vision, nor their hope.
Faith is certain of what we do not see. Faith and hope go together.
And in spite of everything, they never wished to return to their old hometown. This is very important. That’s why God was not ashamed to be called their God.
“I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back~”
They left and never turned back to Mesopotamia. This is also like us in our Christian lives – we must never wish to “go back” to our lives when we were unbelievers.
From this event, 4-500 years later, God introduced himself to Moses as “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
God constantly introduced himself as that. Can you imagine today God introduces himself as “I AM the God of [your name]”? He was not ashamed of them.
“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your minds on things above – not on earthly things.” Jesus challenges us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. When I come again, I come to take you with me.”
3. Obeyed without knowing WHEN
#4 (Climax) Abram obeyed even when he didn’t know WHY God was working in unreasonable ways
(This was the supreme test on Abram’s life. Sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering.)
“17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.”
The background of this story is Genesis 22. God called and said, “Abram! Sacrifice your son Isaac. Your only son, whom you love. Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on the Mount of Moriah.” Immediately, Abram got up and took Isaac and two servants and a donkey and traveled for 3 days.
On the third day, Abram saw the top of the mountain and said to the servants to wait at the bottom with the donkey. “Isaac and I will go up there to worship and WE will come back.”
Then, there were two.
Isaac asked, “Dad, we have wood and fire, but where is the lamb?”
Abram, “God himself will provide.”
Abram got up there, built the altar, and tied up his son (who obeyed like a lamb). Abram reached out his hand with a knife from his pocket and went to kill his son.
But God called from heaven: “Abram! No! Now I know that you love me and fear me. Do not do anything to that boy.” Abram looked around and found a ram and sacrificed the ram instead of Isaac. He called that place: Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will Provide).
And God swore on himself: “I’ll bless you and your descendants and all nations on earth will be blessed through you.” He confirmed his Genesis 12 promise here again.
This was the ultimate, final, supreme test upon Abram.
From this story, we can learn and apply 3 lessons:
Are you Christian?
1. We must be ready to sacrifice what is dearest to me for the sake of loyalty to God.
(What is dearest to you? Money? Kids? Job? Car? House?)
In early church history and also today, this happens.
In a home, one person becomes a Christian, and another does not – and a sword (persecution) came on that home. Unless those people put Christ before all else, there would be NO Christians at all today.
Hundreds of years ago, the light of Christ came to Korea by those who put Christ first. Still today, the message of Christ is being delivered and spread by those who put Christ first. So even today, Christ must come first, or else he comes nowhere in our lives.
Matt “Anyone who loves father, or sister, or brother, or sister, or son, or daughter, or houses, or lands more than me, is not worthy of me.”
In a Christian life, Jesus can ONLY be FIRST. Not second, third, or fourth best. He can be ONLY BEST – or nothing in our lives.
2. We must be ready to accept by faith what is very difficult to understand.
This commandment is very difficult to understand. It looks unreasonable and illogical. God promised to build a great nation THROUGH Isaac. So, to fulfill this promise, Isaac must be alive. Yet, God asked Abram to kill Isaac even when there were no grandchildren from Isaac. God seemed to contradict himself. The will of God fought the promise of God. In such situations, there is only ONE thing to do: OBEY.
We must obey and say, “God, you are good, you are faithful. Even though I don’t know why, but you know why.”
And we must build our faith on that truth.
3. God is faithful
When we are tested and tempted, God will provide a way out so that we can stand up under it. We know that God is working for the good of those who love him and trust him and are called according to his purpose. Phil 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in Jesus Christ.”
God bless you.