Abraham is called the father of those who believe, but what does it mean to believe? What or who do we believe? Is it a doctrine, teaching or a person? Is that belief the same as trust?
So, the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
In Yahweh’s dealing with Abram, there were many significant events, but right now we want to look at two: the promise and the blessing. The promise found in Genesis 12 went something like this. God said to Abram, “leave your native country and family. Go to the land I will show you and I will make you famous and you will become a great nation that will be a blessing to all nations.”
What if Abram had not left Mesopotamia, would God still have blessed him? Would he have made him famous and blessed all nations through his seed? What do you think?
Hopefully, the answer is obvious, but if not, look at this passage from Isaiah.
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”
God called Abram while he was living in a pagan culture, even before he knew who Yahweh was. And God made a promise which is found in Genesis 12:1-2; but the promise was not realized until he was blessed by Melchizedek, the priest of God and King of Salem in Genesis 14. That is what the Isaiah passage shows us.
Abram received a promise from God, he held that promise, meditated on it, left home and family in pursuit of that promise and carried that promise each day as he sojourned through the land of Canaan. He had no power or ability to fulfill this promise in his own strength. But the day he met Melchizedek, God clearly recognized that Abraham was a man with whom he could begin his plan of redemption – and he blessed him.
We may feel like we are walking through strange territory and all we have is a promise from God. The blessing seems far off and distant, but the promise is still being worked out in our lives. As we faithfully steward that promise the blessing will come with the confidence the matter is settled in heaven.
Back to the opening question, what does it mean to believe? How does God break into a human life, how does he awaken our soul to his kingdom and the life of the Spirit? For some it is a slow, almost imperceptible journey but others may experience a dramatic awakening.
For all there comes a point of revelation, a deep knowing, even a divine word spoken to us. When this occurs, we have a choice to respond or not. If we share the faith of Abram, we will steward it, meditate on it and pursue it. Some believers may never experience complete fulfillment in this lifetime. But God is faithful to accomplish that which he has spoken over us – so let us follow Abram’s example as “father of our faith” and be good stewards of his promises to us. For this is the way of faith and this is what it means to please God.
So to believe like Abraham is to believe the promise even before receiving the blessing. This is not a psychological mind game or mental gymnastics but a deep trust in a God who is able!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.