My family and I are walking through a devotion called “The Story” this year. Yesterday’s devotion was about Abram’s call. It is found in Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” With these verses, Abram’s life would forever change. There are several lessons that we can learn from these verses and some others.
The first lesson we learn is that if we are going to follow God, we are going to have to forsake ourselves and our plans. Abram probably had a pretty comfortable life up until that point. There was no reason to think that life was going to change. Yet with God interrupting Abram, everything changed. God told Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family, and specifically from your father’s house.” Everything that Abram knew and was comfortable with, he was going to have to leave. Talk about a major change! Yet even today, if we are going to follow God, we are going to have to forsake the comfortable, the convenient, and the things that make us complacent. Luke 9:23 is where Jesus says, “If any man desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Jesus was saying that a call to follow Him is a call to relinquish all control of our lives. Instead of being “masters of our own destiny” (a false illusion anyway), we must willingly submit ourselves to the plan and purpose of God for us. Now if that major of a change doesn’t cause enough anxiety to rise up in us, there is a second lesson.
Following God doesn’t mean that we are given the entire road map. God tells Abram, “get out of the familiar and follow Me to a land that I will show you.” I am a planner by nature. It is not an exaggeration to say that I generally have a plan for my plan. Yet I have learned over the years that God does not always reveal the entire plan at once. It is generally just a piece at a time. What makes it possible for us to do this is the knowledge that God is trustworthy, He is faithful, He loves us, and He has our best interest in mind when He calls us out. Not only these things but when we trust God we are trusting the one that Isaiah said “knows the beginning and the end.” Therefore, following God is not a blind leap of faith. Rather it is following the One who has the best map to get us to the best destination. Because God has the map and knows the way, and because I have relinquished all control of my life over to Him, it is not necessary for me to have all the steps. I would even say that it is for our good that we don’t know all the roads God is going to lead us down, because some of them might scare us enough that we choose not to trust Him and follow Him. On the night Jesus was betrayed as He was walking with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would ultimately be betrayed by Judas, Jesus told His disciples, “I have many more things that I would like to tell you, but you are unable to handle them right now.” Jesus knew that the events that were going to be set in motion with His arrest in a short time would rock their world. Although Jesus had told His disciples that He would be betrayed, given over to the authorities, crucified, and three days later rise from the dead, His disciples struggled with believing it. Jesus knew that once they saw Him arrested and ultimately led away to Golgotha to be crucified, that their faith would waiver, and that they would struggle. If Abram would have known all the roads God was going to lead Him on to fulfill this covenant, Abram may not have been as willing to follow God. In the same way, because of God’s love for us and His knowledge of what we can handle and when we can handle it, God only gives us what we need, when we need it. We just have to trust that if God is calling us to walk down a certain path, He already knows how it is going to turn out, He knows the dangers and the pitfalls, and that He is walking with us every step of the way.
The third lesson we can learn from this set of verses is that certain promises from God are conditional. God told Abram to leave his land, family, and specifically his father’s house behind for a land He would show him. As a result of doing this God promised Abram that he would be blessed, he would become a great nation, and that the world would be blessed through Abram’s descendants. However, all of this hinged on Abram trusting God enough to leave. If Abram didn’t leave his land, family, and house then those promises would have never been fulfilled. Does this mean that God’s plans can be held hostage or changed by our actions? Absolutely not, God is sovereign, all-powerful, and all-knowing. God knew that Abram would respond, and so by God telling Abram what would happen when he responded, God was showing Abram that He truly is all-knowing. God desires that the world would respond to His invitation to the gift of salvation. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. God not only desires that we would be saved, but He made it possible for us to be saved. He did this by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, that as we believe on Jesus’ sacrifice as the only way to be saved, we will be saved. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So God desires we would be saved, He provided the way for us to be saved, but we must still have faith in that God’s way is the only way. That is why salvation is available for all, but it is not automatic. Regardless of our past or our present, God is able to overcome our sin and save us from sin’s penalty which is eternal death (Rom. 6:23a). It is important to know that salvation is more than a prayer we pray, a card that we sign, a church aisle that we walk. Salvation is an attitude of our heart that depends entirely on God to save us, and it is evident in the life that we live. While we are not saved by our works, our works demonstrate the we have been saved. As James said in James 2, “faith without works is dead.” In Genesis 12, Abram demonstrated his faith in God’s promise in verse 4 that says, “So Abram departed…” So we see that God’s promise here is conditional, but there is one more lesson we can learn from Abram.
The final lesson is that God will fulfill His promises. As we progress through the book of Genesis we see how God fulfilled His promise to Abram. It began by God giving Abram a son named Isaac (Gen. 21). Isaac would have a son named Jacob that would continue to be a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram (Gen. 25). From Jacob would come the 12 tribes of Israel. These 12 tribes of Israel would be God’s way of making them a mighty nation. The second part of the promise was giving Abram’s descendants a land of their own. We see this through the book of Exodus and through the book of Joshua as the nation of Israel traveled to their land (Exodus), and conquered their land (Joshua). Yet there was another part of the original promise in Genesis 12 that God would provide for. That part of the promise is that through Abram’s descendants the whole world would be blessed. This was ultimately fulfilled through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It was through Abram’s lineage that the Savior of the world was born, that all who believe in Jesus would be forgiven of their sins and given eternal life in heaven with God. As we trust God and walk by faith we can know that whatever God has promised us as His children He will fulfill. That is because according to Titus 1:2, “God cannot lie.” So whatever He has said will come to pass. So even if you don’t see all of God’s plan, even when it doesn’t make sense, remember who your faith is in, walk by faith, and know that God will bring to pass what He has promised. May that encourage you as you walk with Him this day and everyday until we are face to face with Him.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him