God Pleasing Faith, Abraham, the Father of Faith, Part II, Lesson 9, Hebrews 11:8-11
Hebrews 11:8-10, By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
I wonder if the people of Ur of the Chaldees lived their lives as we do in America where we hear constantly of the so-called American dream.
Was there an Ur of the Chaldees dream that all of the Ur-ites sought to realize?
A four wheeled two horse-power wagon in every house, a house, by the way, with a paid up mortgage, with four weeks of paid vacation, early retirement with plenty of money to travel and do as one pleased.
Was Abram a seeker of that dream when God called him to leave it all for a far country and with that call only promises being given.
No, Abraham by faith we are told answered the call and left his familiar residence in Ur to obey the call of God regardless of what he would face.
He was not satisfied with the Ur of the Chaldees dream nor would he have been satisfied with the American dream had he been of our time.
Abraham did not have such low or meager and paltry goals in mind, goals that dwell on that which he could see, touch, smell, taste or hear, goals which only majored on the temporal.
The Ur of the Chaldees dream did not satisfy nor should the American dream satisfy for Abraham as a man of faith, had a higher purpose for he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.
Faith does that, for faith gives the faithful a dissatisfaction with this world for faith opens up a world unseen by those who are blind to spiritual truths.
Faith gives 20-20 vision to see that city and at the same time dims the vision to the things of this earth.
So forgetting the Ur of the Chaldees dream Abraham became a pilgrim in a foreign land, a strange country, but a country of promise.
The lesson to those of faith is that this is the condition we should find ourselves in.
We, as Abraham, are to see ourselves as pilgrims and as pilgrims to stand out as different.
Go to another country and you are immediately seen as a stranger for you will automatically operate outside of the local customs for you are not one of the locals.
But oh how this world hates you being different for your difference will expose its sin every time.
But men and women of faith are given eyes to see their homeland, for their homeland is heaven.
Given this gift we know that as a pilgrim this earth is only a temporary abode, a passing through abode.
And because of this our whole way of thinking, should be radically different than the men and women who are planted deeply on this earth for they have no vision for things above.
Abraham looked for a city with foundations for he knew upon this earth there was nothing stable and eternal.
Ask the Nepalese whose mountains fell.
Ask the people of Oklahoma who hid from the winds which toppled that which they so carefully built.
Ask the Texans who suffered the floods which unearthed many manmade foundations.
But the man of faith knows that in God only can one find a foundation which lasts.
And that foundation is Jesus Christ.
As the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians in:
1 Corinthians 3:11, For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The citizens of the world,
∑ those who are bound to this earth,
∑ those whose hopes are only upon the foundations of this life,
∑ those convinced that happiness will come by amassing treasure, refuse the foundation of the pilgrim for they refuse the eyes of faith that only come from God.
The pilgrim sings about his foundation when he sings these words by Edward Mote, 1797-1874.
My hope is built on nothing less
(another word for foundation),
Pilgrims are always ready to move for like Abraham who lived in tents and only owned his gravesite they know their eternal inheritance is in Jesus Christ and the things of this life are only given temporally.
Faith is what brings you to seek for higher things.
Faith does not settle for the best of the least.
Abraham who was a wealthy man, with many cattle and many sheep, was not satisfied with the wealth that he could see and touch for faith had given him a vision of things far better.
Faith gave him eyes to see a city, a city with foundations, not a city built by men like Abraham but a city built by God himself.
God gives us a contrast between the man of faith who dwelt in tents, but not satisfied therein to dwell but looked for that which was stable and fixed and strong and powerful.
And eyes of faith clearly saw such a place.
And Abraham was drawn to a promised land where God would bring forth a people for his name, a people out of the loins of Abraham himself who would establish a place called Jerusalem, a foretaste of the holy city in which Father Abraham and all his children of faith would dwell.John had that same vision for he too was a man of faith who recorded in Revelations 21:10-14,19 the coming of that city: And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.
God drew Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to a promised land, a far country called Canaan, but that was only a pilgrimage in which to continue looking for the promise of heaven.
Faith looks beyond this life.
The Promised Land that Abraham walked upon, and lived upon was not the final realization of the promise, but only an earthly picture of the eternal city prepared by God for his people.
Abraham in obeying Godís call tasted of the promise because he was a man of faith.
For Hebrews 11:11 tells us:Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
Now God in calling Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees promised that from him would come a great nation whereby all the families of the earth would be blessed.
We are told he was seventy five years old when he was called to leave his home country.
In another place we are told that Abraham lived 175 years so Abraham lived for another 100 years after he left Ur.
In those days it was not unusual for women to be of child bearing age for a much longer period than they are now.
But for all the time of Abraham and Saraís marriage they were unable to have children.
And while not believing that God could bring a son through Sara you know of their attempts to bring Godís promises to fruition by their own efforts which resulted in Ishmael of Hagar,
But God did fulfill his promise for Isaac was born of Sara when she was 91 years old and Abraham was 100.
God does indeed keep his promises and we do not need to help him do it.
Now in this verse Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed there is some controversy as to whose faith is being talked about.
For ďreceived strength to conceive seedĒ literally means manís power for the laying down of seed which is given only to the man who in this case is Abraham.
Since this is a passage about the faith of Abraham I think this is the proper interpretation especially in light of Saraís ridicule of the whole idea of her bearing a child at such an advanced age after a lifetime of barrenness.
In Genesis 18 Sara is rebuked for her unbelief and even when confronted she denies it but her actions belie her denial.
Read Genesis 18:12-15, Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 5 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
The Lord did not sweep Sarahís unbelief under the rug but confronted her with it.
So is there anything too hard for the Lord?
Of course not for with God all things are possible.
When God commands, when God calls we are not to focus on our weakness but we are to focus on Godís word which brings us to know a God who is absolute in power and absolutely faithful.
Sara is old. That is true.
Abraham is old and that is true but why is that relevant when God has promised for At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Moses was called at age 80 to do a work unmatched by any sinner in the world before then or after then and Mosesí first reaction was to think of his weakness of speech rather than Godís infinite strength.
How human it is to shy away from the knowledge that God will always provide a way and that way will in no doubt be hindered by any limitation that we have.
Our beloved Apostle Paul whom people of faith will meet some day was buffeted in the flesh thinking that would hinder him in the service of God and he besought the Lord three times that it might depart from him.
Expecting God to respond with healing he heard these marvelous words of strength given to the weak that the weak may be strong for God.
Paul, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
God had sought the weak and he found Paul.
And God said to the weak: not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called
I Corinthians 1:27-29, But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
And we of faith, weak, confounding, base, despised, are of that group!
So Paul ceased to pray for relief from his weakness and said in:
II Corinthians 12:9,10, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Wise men after the flesh, mighty men, and noble men find in themselves a strength in which to glory and my, how they glory.
But men and women of faith are not called to glory in themselves but to glory in God.
Men and women of faith, strong or weak according to the world, are all weak and need God for God is able to bring each one beyond him or herself.
Men and women of faith are to trust God to do far above their human abilities and strengths for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
Abrahamís life span was 175 years, over twice the average life span of today but even in that long period Abraham did not see all the promises of God to him fulfilled.
He lived in tents, he lived as a nomad moving his flocks from water source to water source.
He lived to see his son Isaac and Isaacís son Jacob but never knew Jacobís sons.
What happened to Godís promises?
Well Godís promises are not geared to our time frame for God dwells in the eternal and promises are not governed by our short life here on earth.
But faith provides eyes to see into eternity where every one of Godís promises will be fulfilled.
God promised a son and Abraham held the baby Isaac and heard him cry at age 100.
God also promised Abraham to make of him a great nation which will bless all families of the earth.
But Abraham died in faith not having received these promises but he died having seen them afar off and was persuaded of them and embraced them for he knew that God in whom he had placed his faith was trustworthy.
Abraham, our Father of Faith shows us the way.