Do I have a story for you..
There was a man named Abram and he had a wife named Sarai. God spoke to Abram and told him to leave all of his house, and friends, and even his brothers and sisters, and go to a land that God would show him. God even told him that he would make him a great nation, and bless him, and make his name great.
God even said that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. Abram was seventy-five when he left his town of Haran. He took Sarai and his young nephew Lot, whose father had died, and he packed up all of his belongings, and they set out for the new land that the Lord was taking them to.
Scripture tells us this in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he left, not knowing where he was going.”
As Abram was traveling God appeared to him and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” Abram pitched his tent near a mountain, at a place called Bethel, and built an altar and called on the name of the Lord.
After some time, a famine came upon the land, and so Abram went down to Egypt till the famine had ended. On the way to Egypt, Abram said to Sarai, “Sarai, I know that you are such a beautiful woman, and it will come that the Egyptians will see you and they will ask me “Is this your wife?” If I say “Yes, they will kill me for you. Please say that you are my sister, so that it will go well with me, and I will live because of you.” Abram, at this point, may have believed God that He would do all that He had spoken to him, but his faith was only in his mind, and not yet, in his heart, for Abram could not trust God enough to keep him alive, because he had to lie about his wife. Well, they did see Sarai in all of her beauty, and Pharaoh had her brought to his palace. They treated Abram well for her sake, and they gave him sheep and oxen, donkeys and many servants. But God struck Pharoah and his house with great plagues. Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done?” Pharaoh had them all escorted out of the land of Egypt. This certainly was a prelude to the day when God would bring plagues upon Egypt and Moses would escort the people out of the land.
Abram became a very rich man in livestock and in silver and gold. Abram went back to the place where he had pitched his tent from the beginning. By this time Lot also had flocks and herds, and they both grew to the point that their flocks needed more room to graze, and so the herdsmen of both Abram and Lot began to argue. Abram said to his nephew, Lot, “ Our herds have gotten so large that we need more grazing land, so let us go our separate ways. If you go to the left, I will go to the right. If you go to the right, I will go to the left.”
Lot chose for himself the valley of the Jordan. So Lot took all that he had, along with his family and those who worked for him, and departed.
Now again God said to Abram, “Look all around you, for all the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.” Abram moved his tents, and dwelt by the Oaks of Mamre, which is called Hebron. Hebrews 11:9-10 says, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Now it came about that a war broke out amongst several kings, and they took Lot and the people in his town captive. Abram received word that his nephew Lot had been taken captive, so Abram took 318 trained men from his household and he left to find Lot. Abram and his men defeated Lot’s captives, and they set free all of the people from the town, and they took back their possessions.
Abram was the hero, and the king of Sodom went out to meet him, along with the king of Salem, whose name was Melchizedek. He was not only a king, but a priest unto God. Melchizedek brought out wine and food to eat, to celebrate the occasion. He also blessed Abram and thanked God for such a victory.
By now Abram was not only known by many, but he was a powerful man in word and deed, but he had no children. So he asked God for a son.
God said to him,“Look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them, for so shall your descendants be as numerous as the stars.”
Abram believed God and it was looked upon him as righteousness. God made a promise to Abram. Hebrews 6:13-14 tells us this, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear an oath by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘indeed I will greatly bless you and I will greatly multiply you.”’
Now God had promised Abram not only the land all around him, but now descendants to numerous to count. Well, time came and went and Abram and Sarai became impatient waiting on God, so they came up with their own plan to start having these descendants. Sarai said, “Because I have not been able to have children, take my maid Hagar as your wife, and have your son.”
So that is what Abram did and sure enough, Hagar was with child. This brought great distress to Sarai, and she took it out on Hagar. It got to the point that Sarai told Abram that Hagar had to leave and she did. The Lord found Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness and told her to return to Sarai. The day came for the child to be born, and it was a boy, and he was called Ishmael, the name God had given him.
This powerful man, who was now 86 years old, had placed himself in a position where both of his wives were now at odds with each other, all because he did not wait upon God. We can create hardship for others and distress for ourselves. We can even divide our families, when we do not trust God, nor wait upon Him. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He will make all things beautiful in His time. James 1:2-4 tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters , is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
God was faithful to keep His word, and Abram was going to find this out for himself.
Years went by and Abram was now 99 years old and God appeared to him again and told him to walk before Him blameless and God made another promise with Abram. God once again told Abram that he would be the father of many nations, and even kings will come forth from him. God swore a vow between Him and Abram and all of his descendants to come, a vow that would last forever. Once again God told him that the land that he has walked upon would be his descendants’ forever, but this time it was not just God making a promise to Abram, but Abram had to keep his end of the bargain. God said that he had to circumcise himself and his son Ishmael and all of the males in the household and that this was to be done from generation to generation as a sign between Abram and God and all of his descendants. It’s like a wedding ring is a sign between a man and wife of their promise to each other.
Now God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of many nations, and Sarai’s name to Sarah, for she shall be the mother of many nations. God told him that she was going to have a son, and kings and peoples shall come from her. God also said to Abraham that Ishmael would be a great nation and he would have 12 princes. But Isaac, who shall be Sarah’s son, would carry on the promise between him and God forever.
Now Abraham journeyed once again, and once again, he came to a land where he told them that Sarah was his sister. The king took Sarah to his palace and God came to the king during the night in a dream and told him,“You are a dead man, because the woman that you have taken is married.”
The king, ever so frightened, said, “Lord, will you kill me and my people, when I am an innocent man?” For he told me that she was his sister, and he was her brother, my heart is blameless, and my hands are innocent. I have done nothing.”
God responded to the king, “ Yes, I know that you have done nothing, because I have kept you from sinning against Me. Now give her back to her husband, for he is a prophet and he will pray for you, but if you do not I will kill you and all that is yours.”
The king called for Abraham and he said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done”
Abraham tells the king, “I said what I said because I thought, for sure, that there was no fear of God in this place, and you would kill me because of my wife.
Besides, she actually is my sister. She is my half-sister who I married. I told my wife that since we left our own country that wherever we traveled that this kindness be shown to me ; that she says that I am her brother.”
Once again we see that Abraham still does not totally trust God , even though he believes what God has spoken to him.
Abraham was still a work in progress as 2 Peter 1:5-11 tells us, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my brothers and sisters make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
God does not give up on those who walk with Him and He certainly did not give up on Abraham. Well, Abraham did pray for the king and God blessed the king.
God also kept His promise to Abraham and Sarah and they had a son in God’s appointed time. God does all things, remember, in His time. Abraham called his son Isaac and according to the promise, Abraham circumcised Isaac on the eighth day.
Abraham was one hundred years old now, and Sarah was ninety.
Hebrews 11:11-12 says, “ By faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was able to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
Abraham had a great feast for Isaac on his birthday and everyone was invited. But Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of little Isaac. Well, this made Sarah very angry, and she went to Abraham once again, and told him this, “Drive out this woman and her son, for her son shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”
Abraham became very distressed over this, because Ishmael still was his son too.
But this time God says to Abraham, “Do not be distressed, because of Ishmael, and his mother; listen to Sarah, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. I will make a nation from Ishmael also.”
So Abraham took food and water and gave them to Hagar and sent them away.
Sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard to do, but Romans 8:28 says,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Hagar finds herself lost and out of food and water. So Hagar did what she knew to do, and that was to pray and God heard her prayers and He showed her a well of water and also told her that Ishamael will become a great nation also.
We learned a great lesson here with Abraham, Sarah and Hagar and that is what
Romans 5:1-5 tells us, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
All three of them suffered because of a wrong decision, but God used it to produce character and hope in each one of them.
The years had gone by and so the day came when God tested Abraham with his hardest test yet. Abraham was always concerned that someone would kill him over his wife. Now God wanted to know if Abraham would kill his son whom he loved.
God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on the mountain that I will show you.”
1 Peter 1:7 tells us, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
Yes, Abraham was going to be put through the fire. So in the morning Abraham and Isaac set out for the land of Moriah. On the third day Abraham saw the place in the distance and he told his men who were traveling with him to stay in place as the boy and him went on ahead to worship God. As they were going along Isaac asked his father, “We have the wood for the fire, but where is the lamb?”
Abraham told him that God would provide the lamb. So Abraham laid out the wood, and he took Issac, and placed him on the wood and took out his knife and began to plunge it toward Isaac, when God called out to him, “Abraham, Abraham!”
“I’m here,” Abraham said. “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy. Do not harm him, for now I know that you fear Me, since you have not withheld your son from Me.”
Abraham looked, and there was a ram caught in the bushes and he offered it up to God.
Then God called to Abraham again and said, “By Myself I have sworn, because you have done this thing and not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. And from you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you obeyed My voice.”
Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us, , “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
WOW! The testing of our faith makes us not only strong in our walk with God, but it also makes us obedient to God.
God also gave up His only begotten Son. You see, God never asks us to do anything that He Himself would not, or has not done. It was just as hard for God to see His Son die on the cross and be separated from Him because of the sin that He took upon Himself in our place. Hebrews 5:7-8, speaking about the Messiah says,
“In the days of His humanity, He offered up both prayers and pleas with loud crying and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His devout behavior. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Yes, the testing of our faith, those trials that can so often cause us to suffer, brings about obedience to God and God rewards our obedience. Deuteronomy 28 speaks of the rewards for obedience and it also speaks about our disobedience and those hold true till this day, because God never changes.
To all who have faith, Abraham is called our father. This is not just a great story, this is our heritage, for all who believe. Let’s close with 1 Peter 1:3-9 once again, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last days. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”