In Walking with Abraham, a muti-part study, we glean examples of Christian living and learn about God’s attributes by following the story of one of the most important figures in Christianity.
Last time, we studied Abraham’s life, its significance, and examined his early days in Ur and Haran.
Today’s lesson picks up right we where we left off. We will be looking at God’s call of Abraham, and his faithful response.
We’ll also learn about how God’s plans are detailed, what that means for us and how it informs us to live faithful lives.
2) 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:
3) 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.
4) So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.Genesis 12:1-4 (KJV)
God Is Always Detailed
Although God interacted with mankind somewhat differently at times in the Old Testament, God never changes nor do his attributes. (Ps. 90:2, Heb. 13:8)
Thus the broad brushstrokes of God’s character seen here – his authority, sovereignty, details, directness and care – all mean just as much to us as to Abraham.
In fact, the way God called Abraham is similar to how he calls us.
Just because God doesn’t speak directly to us doesn’t mean he does not speak to us in other ways such as through the Holy Spirit and especially through his word in scripture. (Gal. 5:18, Heb. 1:1-2)“God has always been a God of details and that’s a good thing.”
Thus, while the details of God’s call in these verses were specific to Abraham, they are no less relevant to us.
God’s calls to us are just as detailed as God’s calling of Abraham. God has always been a God of details and that’s a good thing.
No more is this evidenced than by the fact that, just like with Abraham, God tells us both his immediate plans by asking us to obey him and his future plans by telling us about the blessings that come after obedience.
This has always been God’s way of doing things.
God’s Details Are Enough
God’s directions are always clear. He graciously provides us with enough details about how he wants us to live and what the results of such living will accomplish for him that it weaves together for us a complete picture of what life is all about – loving God, keeping his commandments and glorifying him. (Ecc. 12:13, Mark 12:30-31, Rev. 4:11)
Abraham was given clear, detailed instructions when God called him. He was told to do three things. First to leave his country. Second, to leave his kindred or family, and third to leave his father’s house.
God was asking Abram to give up his entire world. To be set apart. That’s not easy, yet God asks the same of us. (Lk. 9:23)
God’s details include sacrifice. The whole duty of man – serving God and keeping his commandments – requires sacrifice, separation and death to self. (Jn. 12:25-26, Col. 3:5 Rom. 8:13, Titus 2:12)“God’s calls to obey him are the means through which he invites us to follow him.”
Like Abraham, we have our marching orders. Through these orders we understand what God wants us to do in the moment (obey and follow).
Still, God not only provides details for us about what he wants from us now, but he also outlines what his plans are for us in the future, just as he did with Abraham.
Notice, God tells Abraham to leave his country, family and home for a land that he will show him. God is taking him somewhere special.
God’s calls to obey him are the means through which he invites us to follow him. He calls us and gives us details for reasons of his choosing, and such reasons have their purposes set in the future.
God tells Abraham what the end game is all about. A great nation will be made out of him, he will be blessed, his name will be made great, he will be a blessing, those who bless him will be blessed, those who curse him will be cursed and all the families of the earth will be blessed in him. (Gen. 12:2-3)
Just like Abraham, God has promised us many things. We’re promised a home in heaven, a new heaven and a new earth, perfected bodies, and so forth as God orders our steps and makes our paths strait. (1 Cor. 2:9, Jn. 14:2, Rev. 21:1, Phil. 3:21, Ps. 37:23, Prov. 3:6)“Not knowing how God will connect the dots between our lives now and lives to come often scares us away from following wholeheartedly and fully after him.”
Yet, despite knowing what God wants us to do and what he has planned for us, we more often than not stumble at the details of his designs for us.
Its not the immediate or the future that often sideline us. Again, we know where we are going (heaven) and how to get their (obedience).
It’s the in-between that causes us to get tripped up. Its the journey that frightens us. Not knowing how God will connect the dots between our lives now and lives to come often scares us away from following wholeheartedly and fully after him.
It’s difficult for us to accept that we don’t know everything, that we’re not God and that we don’t know what each day, season, decade and stage of life will bring. (Matt. 6:27, Matt. 6:25)
But we’re not God, and even while there are things we do not always understand and that we won’t understand this side of heaven, God’s commands and details are clear enough for us.
It’s not God’s lack of total transparency that makes it complicated to accept his plans. Rather, it’s our desire to control everything that makes God’s will for us appear murky, complicated, scary, tough and inconvenient.
So what do we do? How can we put our desire for control on the shelf and serve God with expectation, joy and calm?“God’s commands and details are clear enough for us.”
How do we get through the years and decades between what God wants from us in the now, and what he has promised us in the future?
Again, we can look to Abraham for the answer, and that answer is that we must allow faith to fill in the details.
Faith helps us navigate the space between what God wants from us now, and what he has promised us in the future.
Faith Fills in the Details
Abraham left Haran without fully knowing all the details God had in store for him. He knew what he had to do in the moment and what God would do in the future, but he didn’t know what the in-between would look like.
How everything would unfold was a mystery to him. However, his lack of knowledge notwithstanding, Abraham set out by faith and so must we.
Faith is how Christians walk. (2 Cor. 5:7) Faith requires that we trust God…in everything. It doesn’t just require us to give up controlling things, but to hand over everything to the only one who is in control and who controls all things.
Faith accepts that though we cannot see over the horizon God does and that he is going to finish what he has begun in us and lead us to his promised land. (Phil. 1:6) Only faith sees beyond the horizon.“Faith rests in what God says, not what our feelings say. We can have faith because God’s words are always true – he always means what he says.”
Abraham knew that God was going to accomplish what he said he was. God was clear about that. Only God could show him where he was going. Only God does that with us as well, we merely obey and follow.
Notice, Abraham “departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” (Gen. 12:4) Faith relies on God, not feelings. Faith rests in what God says, not what our feelings say.
We can have faith because God’s words are always true – he always means what he says. Our feelings change, God’s word stays the same forever.
Abraham followed Gods commands and words. He took God’s words seriously and so must we. God spoke the world into existence, he is all-powerful, yet he love us and cares enough about us to speak life to us. God always brings what he says to pass. (1 Pet. 1:25, Is. 46:10, Num. 23:19)
We must not forget that it is God himself who speaks to us, commands us and reveals himself to us in his word.
Notice all of the “I” statements that God said to Abraham. “I will show you…I will make…I will bless.”
Everything that was future oriented in God’s call to Abraham would be fulfilled only by God alone. God is so detailed that he does all the work in our lives – our sufficiency is of God. (Phil. 2:13, 2 Cor. 3:5)
All we have to do is rely on him to do what he says. God means what he says and he will bring what he says to pass. His promises are truly “yes and amen.” (2 Cor. 1:20)“The next time fear confronts you with a wave of uncertainty about if God will really do what he says he will do, let faith fill in the details you are afraid you are missing.”
We must cultivate a high view of God that fears and respects him in order to make it from Point A to Point B in the Christian life.
When we take God’s hand and by faith do what he has told us to do, for the purposes he has told us he will accomplish, and trust him to carry us along the way between obedience and heaven, great things will happen.
Put another way, a life lived in faith will never fail to leave an impactful legacy just like Abraham’s life has done.
The next time fear confronts you with a wave of uncertainty about if God will really do what he says he will do, let faith fill in the details you are afraid you are missing.
In this lesson we examined God’s call to Abraham and Abraham’s faith informed departure from Haran.
This taught us that God is a God of details, and that this has always been the case.
Just like with Abraham, God calls all Christians. Moreover, he tells us both his immediate plans by asking us to obey him and his future plans by telling us about the blessings that come after obedience.
Though we do not know everything about what God has in store for us, we can walk and live by faith by trusting in what God says because he never goes back on his words.
While it can be hard to accept the in-between moments of life, faith fills in the details.
May we be grateful to God and praise him for his detailed provisions, care and plans for his children.
Soli Deo gloria!
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Ships before the Coast by Willem van de Velde (II), after 1670. The Rijksmuseum. SK-A-440