DG-blog-header-Aug22-01 Our church has been going through the book of Hebrews this year, and now that we've reached chapter 11 we've slowed down in our congregational reading. Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the "hall of faith," a list of individuals in the Bible who are known for their faith. The first verse of the chapter is a definition of faith: "The reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." The author then goes on to detail many Old Testament heroes who are commended for their faith in God. One such example sticks out to me.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance.

Hebrews 11:8

Abraham is where it all began. Chosen by God for a special covenant, he faithfully obeyed the Lord in the tasks he was given. The center of it all, the reward at the end of the mission, was the Promised Land. Abraham's journey, his obedience, his faithfulness–it was all looking ahead to an inheritance promised to Him by God. An abundant land, flowing with milk and honey, a family more numerous than the stars in the sky. Abraham set out for a foreign place because he had immense faith in God, trusting that the Lord would do as He said He would do. He lived in tents, never settling into the land that was his inheritance. Verse 10 tells us that he did this because he was "looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Abraham was absolutely filled with faith that he would receive the inheritance that God had promised to him. He also knew that the inheritance would be far grander than a plot of land. DG-instas-Aug22

"These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland." Hebrews 11:13-14

God had promised Abraham a lot. God had told him of this magnificent, verdant land that would be his. He told Abraham about all the children he would have, that He would make his family into a great nation. But Abraham and Sarah never saw any of this. They lived in the land that was promised to them, but it was not yet theirs. They had a son named Isaac, but he himself was far from the numerous nation of children that God had told Abraham about. God had made this brilliant and weighty promise to Abraham, and the only part of it that he got to see fulfilled was the beginning. He saw Isaac, whom he loved, but not the nation of his descendants. He saw the Promised Land, but only as an immigrant, not as resident. But Abraham wasn't disappointed. He and Sarah both knew that they were temporary on this earth and that their homeland and the fulfilment of the promise made by God was waiting for them on the other side.

"If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place–a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:15-16

By faith. By faith Abraham received his inheritance. By all earthly standards, it would appear the he had received nothing or that God had lied to him. But by Abraham we are all able to be made alive in Christ. It is because of the faithfulness of this man that Christianity exists. It is because of the faith of Abraham that his lineage bore to us the Messiah. We are now sons of Abraham in Christ, ushered into the same inheritance that he was promised. DG-instas-Aug222 This story holds a lot of gravity for me. It is unbearably easy for me to quit on things because I cannot see the finish line, or because I can't see through the haze of confusion. However, Abraham was able to. When God asked for the sacrifice of his only son, Abraham's faith was so strong that he believed that God would go so far as to resurrect the dead in order to maintain his promise to Abraham. Abraham knew that God would do what He said He would do. Do we have that same type of faith? I confess that I have trouble keeping my footing straight when all I can see are mirages around me. To understand that Abraham didn't get to see the full outcome of his innumerable children or the land flowing with milk and honey yet still had unwavering faith in the Lord fills me with total awe and deepens my understanding of what faith really is. Faith in God is not dependent on our senses, but dependent on our conviction of His goodness. If we are convinced of God's good nature, His victorious power, and His unchanging love, then we will be convinced that He will keep His promises to us, even when we don't see the outcome. If we are promised children that outnumber the stars, yet only see one; if we are promised to dwell in a beautiful land, yet remain in tents; if we are promised an eternal inheritance in Heaven, but can only see earth around us now-- we still hold tight to what the Lord promises. He will accomplish it. It is easy for us to get tangled up in the outcome. We obsess of the end rather than the means. We fight with God, tooth and nail, thinking that our finite eyes can actually see more than His omnipotent ones. But faith changes things. Faith is resolved that even when we aren't given the opportunity to experience the outcome of a promise, that God will still accomplish what He told us. Not only is that faith, but it is abundant hope. DG-instas-Aug223 Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.
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