Before we begin to consider the details of Abraham’s life, let us take a moment to consider the extraordinary circumstances of his calling to follow the Lord. Standing on this side of history and peering backward through the lens of our own knowledge and experience, it is easy to lose sight and perspective of how phenomenal and unusual God’s calling to Abraham really was.
“Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.” (Joshua 24:2)
Abraham was born into a culture and society that was completely immersed in idolatry. His own father, Terah, is said to have been one who “served other gods.” There was absolutely no external influence, no human witness whatsoever, who could lead Abraham to serve the true and living God. Instead, every knee within that society was bowed down in worship of a “Moon god” and honor was given to the creation rather than the Creator. In a place where the object of worship brightly lit up the night sky for all to behold, Abraham alone heard the still, small voice of the living God speaking directly to his heart.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
From whence was Abraham called and to where was he being led? We know now because we have read in God’s Word exactly where God would bring him. But Abraham did not know where he was going. And where was he being led away from? Was it a city that lacked for the comforts of this world? Certainly not. It is believed by Archaeologists that the culture and advancements that had been reached in Ur of the Chaldees would remain unsurpassed in Mesopotamian society for more than a thousand years. Many throughout history have gladly forsaken a wasted and desolate land for the prospect of obtaining a better life, but this is not what Abraham did. Pioneering adventurers have also been enticed to journey into unseen lands based on the testimonies and enchanting tales of fortunes to be had made by others who went into such lands before them. But Abraham had received no such enticement from man.
Abraham did not have a dramatic experience, he witnessed no brilliantly illuminated sign written across the heavens. In fact, he turned his face away from such “signs” in the night sky that his own countrymen were influenced by. He was not seeking to flee a land that no longer held any material wealth and comfort for him, nor was he searching for a greater prosperity in an unexplored land of untapped resources. No, we see in Genesis 12:4 that Abraham departed, as the Lord had spoken to him. It was the commandment of God and the promise that he now had in Him that motivated Abraham to leave his homeland and journey to an unknown place. He responded in faith to what God had said to him and it was that belief in what God had told him that caused him to leave.
Our Call To Christ
Is not the call of the Lord to Abraham similar to His call to the believer in Christ? “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you…”
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)
As He called Abraham to walk away from everything in his own life and come and follow Him, the Lord Jesus Christ calls all of us to do the same. “Follow Me” was His call to Abraham, and it is with these words that He calls unto us. Granted, most Christians are not literally called to depart from the place where they are at physically (although sometimes this is definitely the case), nor to depart from their families: in fact, God often wants to use us to reach those around us right where we are. But there is a change of allegiance, a change of priority. “Follow Me.” With that simple invitation, the one who chooses to obey Him will now follow in the footsteps of the One Who gave His life for them. They will no longer live at the command and pleasure of another, no matter who they are, nor will they be at liberty to serve their own interests or pursue their own agenda. They will follow their Lord into the land that He has promised to them.
What about your own acceptance of the Lord’s invitation to follow Him? Have you left the “land” where you were at? Have you spiritually departed from your own country, kindred, and father’s house? Have you forsaken the other “gods” whom they served or are you still living in the idolatry of those around you? And what about the investment that you have made into Christ’s promises? What has it cost you? Abraham put all that he had on the line in obedience to what God had promised him. If God’s Word had proven to be untrue, if God had been unfaithful to deliver on what He had said to him, Abraham would have lost everything. He was relying on God alone to provide for everything that he needed, before and after he reached the land of promise.
May I ask, what have you ventured on the promise that you have in Christ? In business, a failed investment not only deprives an individual of the gain that he had hoped to obtain, but the capital that he invested into the prospect. If God had failed to bring Abraham to the promised land, Abraham stood not only to lose what he might have in Canaan, but what he had had in Ur. God calls us not to walk with one foot in Ur and one foot in the land of promise, no, He requires us to walk away from Ur before we can enter into Canaan. Our calling to Christ leaves us in such a position that we will no longer have any part of this world if we follow Him.
Many Christians live in this world in such a way that if the promises of Christ proved to be false, if the Word of God were found to be untrue, and if the Christian faith itself were discovered to be nothing more than a fable, they would lose absolutely nothing. They have ventured nothing into following the Lord and would consequently lose nothing if He failed them (were such indeed even possible). If our faith in God is so weak that we stand to lose nothing in following Him in this life, is it truly a “faith” that will lay hold of His promise to us in the next?
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published November 19, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]