The Call of Abraham

Daily Reading – Genesis 12:1-8

Last week we saw the spread of astrology from Babylon into the surrounding nations. Abraham’s family migrated Southeast to the land of Ur where they lived and “served other gods.” (Joshua 24:2)

Just before he was stoned to death, Stephen gave the history of Israel leading up to Christ beginning with the moment “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.” (Acts 7:1) Right in the midst of the pagan idol worship of Ur, while Abraham was still a sinner, God intervened.

God initiates a realtionship with Abraham and calls him to leave his father and mother and follow him to an unknown land.

The Lord says,

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God’s call on Abraham’s life required some immediate sacrifices, but offered in return the hope of very great and precious promises. Abraham sacrificed everything he knew and the security of home to follow God’s call.

Two questions to consider today:

I. What exactly did Abraham put his faith in?

II. What effect did it have on his life?

What did Abraham believe? Galatians 3 is a pivotal passage to help us understand the continuity of the Bible. Take a look at Galatians 3:7-9:

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

In this passage, Paul says God “preached the gospel” in advance to Abraham! The Abrahamic Covenant, or the promises God gave to Abraham, are not something different than those given to and fulfilled in Christ. They are one and the same. The Abrahamic Covenant is the gospel, and the “good news” of the gospel is that one day the Abrahamic Covenant will come true. The “mystery” of the gospel is that the Gentiles get to participate in this fulfillment.

Ephesians 3:6

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

The promises of land, descendants, and blessings will be further developed and explained in the next 10 chapters of Genesis and throughout the rest of the Bible. It is important to note that they are never changed. The same gospel God preached to Abraham is the gospel we believe now. The promises of land, descendants, and blessing are all given to Christ and realized in him. In the coming weeks we will look at Christ’s relationship to the land, seed, and blessing elements of the covenant and how they all come true through him. For now, keep in mind the words of 2 Corinthians 1:20:

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

So what did Abraham accomplish by responding to God’s call? It is the same thing we accomplish, Salvation. Remember, this promise of blessing was and is the good news of the gospel. In trust, Abraham gave up everything to respond to the gospel message God preached to him.

Let’s take a look at Romans 4 and Hebrew’s 11.

Romans 4:20-25

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Look at Hebrews 11:8-16

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

For those who believe, our faith is “counted to us as righteousness.” By the same faith as Abraham we are looking forward to the same promise as Abraham, a city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Most of us will die in faith before the return of Christ, not having received the things promised in the Abrahamic Covenant. But just like Abraham, we have seen these things in the great and precious promises of the gospel and greeted them from afar. And now our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a savior from there. And when he comes, we will have the land, the seed, and the blessing.

The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme found in all of Scripture of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son. 

Luke 24

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

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