Abraham – Obeying the Commander’s Orders Part 2

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)

God has promised to bless the children and grandchildren of His faithful warriors: “…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6).  What more gracious and loving reward could we ask of God than that He bless and preserve our offspring in the one true faith?  So we see with God’s obedient and faithful servant Noah and his descendant Abraham.

Abraham, like his ancestor, displayed a courageous faith in God’s promises and good will as he was led from one difficult test to another.  This is not a sadistic attack on the part of God.  The Lord knew Abraham’s heart; He knew he was capable of enduring the challenges and obstacles set before him.  “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God also knew that Abraham’s faithful endurance would be an example and inspiration for millions of lives to come.  Truly, those who have “inherited” Abraham’s godly obedience are as the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore, and are very much his spiritual “heirs.”

Over a dozen chapters of the Bible directly discuss Abraham and God’s promises to him – too much to cover in a short devotion.  This hero of the faith went from one victory to another because he believed and trusted in what God told him.  Sometimes that meant believing a specific promise: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you” (Genesis 12:2); “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7); “Sarah your wife will have a son” (Genesis 18:10); and so on.

However, there were also times when he trusted in God to do what was right and good despite the fact that Abraham hadn’t the slightest notion of what God’s intention was.  The greatest example of such faith would have to be when God told Abraham to take his son, for whom he had waited his whole life as a fulfillment of God’s earlier promise, and offer him as a sacrifice.  Abraham could not have known the wonderful parallel God was constructing to the sacrifice of His own Son on Calvary.  He would not have understood that through this event, millions would be pointed toward the Savior and attain a deeper appreciation for God’s love for us.

All Abraham knew was that God told him to do it, and he trusted that God would still be faithful to his other promises.  How could he become a great nation if his heir was dead?  How could the Messiah come from his line if Isaac died now?  But Abraham had seen God’s power and miraculous intervention on many other accounts; he trusted God to faithfully carry out His covenant with him, even if it meant bringing Isaac back from the dead.  And God did restore Isaac from death to life through the substitute sacrifice of a ram, just as we are restored to life through the substitute sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  If Abraham had known what an awesome and powerful testament to God’s love this event on the mountain in Moriah would one day to prove to be, it surely would have made things easier for him; but then his own testament of faith would not have been as great!

God also asks us to face many challenges and obstacles in life that don’t always make sense at the time.  We can battle the darkness of this world – our temptations, our doubts, our earthly afflictions – knowing that God has something really good in store through our faithful obedience.  He doesn’t promise to reveal everything He has in mind for the future to us, even after the struggle is over.  But He does promise to guide us in the way to go and to always provide us with the love, strength, and mercy that we need to overcome the dark foes that beset us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.  And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of your faithful servant Abraham.  Just as Your hand in his life pointed always toward redemption through Your Son, grant that everything in our lives would direct others to the saving Cross of Jesus Christ.  Keep us always mindful of Your promises, that we may draw strength to fight on throughout this pilgrimage until we come at last to our home in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Noah – Obeying the Commander’s Orders

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22)

One of the most distinguishing marks that sets apart veteran warriors is their ability to follow orders without doubt, without fear, and without hesitation.  No matter how great the martial prowess of any soldier might be, without the ability to reliably follow orders he can quickly become a hindrance, a rebel, and even a traitor.  Great warriors exhibit unquestioning obedience; without it, they are a scourge and menace to themselves, their unit, and their commander.

Noah is an excellent example of a faithful warrior who was commanded to perform a difficult and confusing mission and followed through beautifully.  He almost assuredly faced doubts and questions from his neighbors, his family, and even from within his own heart and mind.  But he knew that his God would prove faithful and wise beyond the counsel of any of them, and because he walked with God, he knew that his trusted Companion and Commander would not lead him astray.

That’s what the question really comes down to for spiritual warriors; do you trust God more than the world or even yourself?  Or will you flout the commands of God because they don’t mesh with all of your own “worldly wisdom” and “enlightenment”?  Sometimes God orders us to operate in a way that the world looks at as foolish, or isn’t “politically correct,” or that we just don’t like.  But God’s wisdom, justice, and righteousness are always vindicated in the end.

Noah wasn’t the only hero of the faith to get some funny looks during his spiritual mission.  Jesus Himself dealt daily with family, friends, and disciples who thought that they knew better than Him and weren’t afraid to challenge His authority.  They were so sure that they had it all figured out, and then the orders come down to them with all this stuff about suffering and dying…is He serious?  This can’t be right!  “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”  But Jesus stayed the course, trusting in His Father and knowing that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

God’s love and faithfulness empowered Noah to obey very difficult orders.  His love and faithfulness have been proven steadfast and trustworthy time and again throughout the Bible and throughout history, culminating in Jesus’ victory on the cross.  God’s warriors look to that same love and faithfulness today, drawing strength to go forward into battle even when we don’t completely understand His purposes or see His ultimate intentions.

 “Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” (Psalm 119:144)

Prayer: Lord God, through His perfect obedience and atoning death, Your Son earned salvation and righteousness for me on the cross.  For His sake, forgive me all my sins and give me grace to walk in Your commands, that I may glorify You.  Help me to understand Your ways and purposes; and even when I don’t, to boldly follow Your will, trusting in Your Word – through Jesus Christ.  Amen.