History books say that Abraham had a special encounter with the monotheistic God even when he was in the land of Ur. That’s where Abraham first heard the call according to Stephen. (Acts 7:2) They moved and settled in Haran for a little over 4 years. After the death of his father, Abraham heard God’s calling again in the land of Haran. This time it was with seven-fold promises.
On either call, the scriptures seem to imply that Abraham obeyed God without much struggle. Leaving one’s homeland or one’s own people is not easy but Abraham responded to God’s call without question. Genesis 12:4 says it all, “So, Abraham left”. After a little over 2 decades, God commanded Abraham again. This time, it was to offer Isaac, his only son and son whom he loved, as sacrifice. Though saddened and confused, He obeyed. This remarkable obedience has been part of the Jewish stories being told from generation to generation.
What has contributed to His exemplary obedience? Abraham’s “simply” obeying is rooted from an extraordinary faith. Through this faith Abraham was made righteous in the sight of God (Genesis 15:6) and through the same faith, he obeyed God’s command to offer Isaac, the son of promise at Mt. Moriah. His obedience comes from a faith that believes that even if Isaac died as a sacrifice, God will bring him back to life (Hebrews 11:19).
What kind of faith does Abraham have? His faith is far from perfection. Out of fear and selfishness, Abraham asked his wife, Sarah, to introduce him twice as her brother. Along with his wife, he laughed at God and on his promise for numerous children. But, the NT is silent about these. Rather, his faith and obedience were given emphasis without mentioning his weaknesses.
In Romans 4, Paul describes his faith as one that hopes against hope (18), faith that never weakens (19), faith that does not waver (20), faith that is fully persuaded (21), The author of Hebrews defines Abraham’s faith as a confidence in what he hopes for and being sure of what he does not see (11:1)
Another secret of Abraham’s obedience is God’s special revelation of Himself as “The God of Glory!” For fear that they might be condemned for addressing God with wrong names the Israelites came up with descriptive names like the God who provides or the God who heals. It was Stephen who described the One who called Abraham as the God of glory (Acts 7:2). The One who is full of majestic glory appeared to Abraham. God, with all His attributes manifested Himself to Abraham. That’s the key to Abraham’s exemplary obedience and Stephen’s martyrdom. Seeing and experiencing the God of glory has led Abraham and Stephen to submit to His call and to His will.
In the OT, faith and obedience were inseparable. The natural outcome of faith is obedience. The same is true with salvation offered by Christ through His redemption. Trusting in His blood to save us is tantamount to the Lordship of Christ in our lives. The first means faith while the second implies obedience. If Paul focuses on being made righteous through faith, James zeroes in on the outcome of faith which is works.
Abraham’s example of faith and obedience calls for a deep reflection of our own. Faith at times is related to “Bahala na!” Though originally, this statement means trust “Bathala”, the great Creator; it later became a passive phrase to denote a trust in fate. Some equate faith to positive thinking but nonetheless, that’s not faith at all. Abraham, the father of faith exemplifies and describes what real faith is. Faith is a complex combination of confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.
Seeing and experiencing the glory of God inspires and empowers us to seek Him and His own agenda. It disarms us of self-sufficiency so that in our helplessness, obedience remains the best option. This consequently leads us to real joy and peace.
True enough as a song says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” So just as we have all been blessed because of Abraham’s faith and obedience, let us also bless others by doing the same.