Article: The Journey Of A Man Who Foresaw No Nation, And Owned No Land | Benoy J. Thomas
Abraham, the father of all believers, is a familiar figure to all. He was a man who heard God’s voice and left everything he knew behind, and stepped into the unknown without questioning. But his test of faith did not end there. He was promised that he would be a great nation and his offspring would inherit the ‘unknown’ land (Gen 12:2&7).
Time and time again, as hope kept growing dim with every passing year, God would remind Abraham of his promise. It was so specific that God went on to describe them as the dust of the earth (Gen 13:16) and the stars in the sky (Gen 15:5). Even when Abraham reached 99 years, God revisited him (Gen 17:4) to reaffirm; “As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations.”
But you might wonder why God did not give him a ray of hope much sooner and how come Abraham never questioned God. But instead, God chose to revisit Abraham frequently and remind him of the promise. We can find part of the answer in Gen 18:19; “For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” God was moulding and testing Abraham to be the greatest, unwavering, believer. It is said in Genesis 15:6, that his faith was so great that God credited it to him as righteousness.
After all the waiting and with everything was said and done, God asked Abraham to take his promised son and sacrifice him. But Abraham still did not question God or think twice. As you probably know, the sacrificial ritual does not end with just a slaughter but also the burning of the sacrifice to ashes on the altar. But according to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham’s faith in God was so strong that “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again.” Can you imagine the kind of faith that Abraham had, where he believed God would raise him from the ashes, a miracle that he had never witnessed or heard about in his lifetime?
An old quote comes to mind: “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” I can only assume if Abraham had his prayers answered much sooner, his relationship with God would have ended up being transactional, never reaching the depths to which it did, where God would go so far as to call him his friend (James 2:23).
Abraham never saw that nation form or that promised land inherited during his time, even though he lived in it. But I doubt he ever cared about it. Even with the wealth he had, he carried out his life as a nomad, pitching tents wherever he was led. He never chose to buy or own a plot of land until the point of necessity when Sarah passed away. “Now Sarah lived to be 127 years old. She died in Kiriath-Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went out to mourn and weep for her. Then Abraham got up from beside his dead wife and said to the Hittites, I am a foreigner and an outsider among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead” (Gen 23:1-4). What mattered to Abraham was his friendship with God and seeing the will of God fulfilled in his way and at his time. It was no coincidence that God would pick Abraham, the patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, to be the chosen vessel of this great lesson of faith and take it through him to various nations that were about to be born out of him.
The line from the song ‘Promise’ from Maverick City Music says, “Though the storms may come, and the winds may blow I’ll remain steadfast and let my heart learn, when you speak a word, it will come to pass.” When your faith is steadfast and you trust God completely, through it all, you will be able to say; “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour” (Habakkuk 3: 17&18 ).
Benoy J. Thomas