Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
The story of Abraham is a story of faith, though at times Abraham faltered (see Genesis 20). Three things are highlighted in Abraham's long story. They are introduced with the phrase ″By faith″. First, Abraham left the comfort and security of his home in pagan Ur for a place God would show him (Hebrews 11:8-9). He had not seen God's Promised Land before (no glossy brochures then!); he simply believed God, packed up his things, and went. Second, it was by faith that Abraham believed God's impossible-sounding promise that in their old age, he and Sarah would have a son (v. 11). And from Isaac would come many more descendants. Third, it was by faith that Abraham was willing to obey God by offering his precious one and only son Isaac as a sacrifice (v. 17). How was God going to keep His promise about blessing Abraham with countless descendants if the only way that could happen-through Isaac-was going to be taken away from him? But Abraham trusted God and believed that God was able to raise the dead (v. 19).
It is in these three ways that Abraham stands out as a man of faith-in leaving comfort for the unknown, in believing God for the impossible, and in obeying God by his willingness to give up the very means of his blessings. In this sense, Abraham is the ″father of us all″ (Romans 4:16), all who have faith. All these people, including Abraham and Sarah, were still living by faith when they died (Hebrews 11:13). It is not that they obtained all of God's promises on earth. They knew they were just passing through to ″a better country-a heavenly one″ that had been prepared for them by God himself (v. 16).
Thus, Abraham lived in tents (Hebrews 11:9, showing he was a pilgrim on earth). He believed that his ultimate destination was not on earth. Even when he arrived in Canaan, the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8), he experienced famine (Genesis 12:10). His descendants also suffered famine (Genesis 26:1; 43:1). Did God short-change them? No, this was an indication to Abraham and the others that God's promises had to do with more than just the land. It was spiritual reality more than just geography and agriculture. One needs faith to believe this and live accordingly with ″single minded commitment″.45
45Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 481.
Consider these three events connected with Abraham that are highlighted here as evidence of faith. Which of these is most inspiring to you? When is it difficult to apply faith?
Why is it important to look beyond the things of this world? What are your own thoughts on the ″better country″ (Hebrews 11:16), the city ″whose architect and builder is God″ (v. 10)? How do you nurture your longing for this heavenly country?