There is an old adage about Christopher Columbus: when he left, he didn’t know where he was going; when he arrived, he didn’t know where he was; and when he returned, he had no idea where he’d been. While Columbus may not have known his destination, he did know the sea. He not only returned safely to Spain, but he also was able to retrace his voyages. This was remarkable because navigational techniques in his time were rudimentary. He did not have an instrument such as a sextant. Instead, he needed to rely upon his compass to set his direction, a simple quadrant to sight the stars, and dead reckoning to estimate how far he had traveled.
When Abraham set out on his journey to the Promised Land, he had even less navigational resources than Columbus. But he had something better. He had the promises of God to guide his journey. Hebrews 11:8-19 sums up his life when it tells us that Abraham lived by faith. Faith was the true north principle that guided every step of his life.
By faith, Abraham obeyed God’s call (8). Although he did not know the destination, Abraham stepped out in faith and followed God. Leaving behind his home, protection, security, and inheritance, Abraham believed God’s promises were worth whatever he gave up to follow God.
By faith, Abraham lived as an alien (9-10). Having no permanent address and owning no property during his sojourn, Abraham kept his focus on the world to come. Though he owned no more than the grave his wife was buried in, Abraham believed God would keep his promises and give the land to his descendents.
By faith, Abraham became a father in his old age (11-12). Unbelief asks, “How can this be?” Faith asks, “How shall this be?” Rather than be discouraged by his circumstances, Abraham trusted the one who made the promise.
By faith, Abraham finished well (13-16). Keeping his focus on God and his promises, Abraham received God’s stamp of approval. God was not ashamed to be his God.
By faith, Abraham passed the ultimate test (17-19). Abraham sacrificed what he loved the most because he believed God’s power could overcome any difficulty. Even if it required a resurrection from the dead, Abraham believed God would fulfill his promises through Isaac.
There are four lessons I take away from a study of Abraham’s life:
- God calls us to leave our comfort zones and follow him. Make it your habit to say, “Yes!” to God’s leading.
- Heaven is our true home. Make it your habit to loosen your tent pegs.
- Life is navigated best by focusing on God’s promises. Make it your habit to align your life with the Scriptures.
- God wants all of our lives. Make it your habit to give your whole heart to God.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on September 1, 2013. It is the final installment in a series on the life of Abraham. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.