This last weekend (7/27/2011-7/31/2011) my family and I moved from one housing unit to another within the same community. We packed everything up, we donated things that we no longer used and we filled in the holes in the wall left by the artwork that we had to take down. We found things we forgot that we owned and we worked, we worked and then we worked some more. In 3 ½ days we emptied one home and filled up another home (actually about 16 hours of work – the rest was billed towards breaks, rest and refueling the stomachs of the movers). We had lots of help from family and the help was truly appreciated. We are settling into the new home and things are already getting back to normal.
This move of ours was one motivated by convenience (although it did not seem convenient during the move). We simply changed addresses. There are many reasons to move; most of the time it is a natural decision, but there are times when the “move” will come from heaven and it is this type of “move” that I want to share with you in this message.
The Father of Faith
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. (Genesis 12:1-4)
Abraham is referred to as the Father of faith by many biblical scholars. The Old & New Testaments teaches us that Abraham moved on faith; Abraham believed and trusted God and acted upon that which he believed that God had said. Abraham did not have scriptures. Abraham did not have the Law of Moses. Abraham did not have a priesthood to consult with; nor did he have any organized form of religion as a point of reference. As we study the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis we find that Abraham had a promise from God. It was Abraham’s faith and trust in God and in God’s ability to perform that which He had promised that caused Abraham to move.
In verse one of chapter 12 we read the words “The LORD had said to Abram” and in verse four of chapter 12 we read the words “So Abram departed”. I have no idea how much time transpired between verse one and verse four of this chapter in the life of Abram but it appears that Abram was relatively quick to respond in obedience to the word of the Lord.
Verse four tells us, “Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.” This “move” by Abram did not come during his high school or college years. This move did not come at a convenient time in Abram’s life when he was in a natural time of transition. The promise of God came and Abram responded in faith to that which God had promised.
My prayer is that our relationship with God would follow this pattern; God would speak and we would respond in faith to that which God has spoken. It seems to very easy when you read things like this and they only take up four verses of scripture but as you meditate on these four verses you begin to realize how significant Abraham’s trust in God was. At age 75 Abram was pursuing God and His promise and if it meant moving away from all that was familiar in order to lay hold of God and His promise he would do it.
What was the promise?
I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:2-3)
The promises of God to an individual person in the scriptures don’t get much bigger than this one. God selected Abram to be the father of a new nation through which He would bless all the families of the earth. The New Testament tells us that this blessing culminated in the Lord Jesus Christ, a natural descendant of Abram (Galatians 3:16). The promise that God made to one man, Abram, has grown to reach you and me and every person on the planet.
But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)
What was the mandate?
Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)
The promise was really big and so was the mandate that God placed upon Abram to receive the promise. God was not going to fulfill this promise in Haran (the place where Abram lived). God was not going to bless Abram in the place where his family lived. God was not going to create the new nation in Abram’s place of familiarity or in Abram’s comfort zone. God was moving Abram to a place where God wanted Abram to be. Look at verse one again. Notice these words, “go to the land that I will show you.” That doesn’t sound like an address to me; it sounds like “leave and I will tell you when you have arrived.”
Many preachers have produced teachings and sermons on why it was necessary for God to have Abram leave everything that was familiar to him in order to fulfill the promise that He had given. You can find dozens of these messages online. For this message I want us to simply focus on these words, “So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed.”
That is the place where you and I are called to live. The written Word of the Lord makes a decree and we respond in faithful obedience. The voice of the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts and we respond in faithful obedience. Moving on His word and on His promise is one very important way that we as followers of Christ truly live by faith.
I am sure that Abram had questions. I am sure that Abram’s wife, his family and the members of his household had tons of questions. There were probably hundreds of good reasons not to move. I am sure that there were people who were genuinely concerned for Abram and his family that presented logical and even theological arguments for why this move was not of God. Every time the Lord presents us with a promise and asks us to move in faith there will be level-headed, well meaning people who genuinely care about you who will try to talk you out of doing what God has said. There was only one reason for Abram to make this move; Abram believed God.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Romans 8:14)
Is God calling you to move?
That is not a question I am qualified to answer (only the Holy Spirit has that answer for you). For most who are reading this you will automatically respond with the answer, “no”. For each of us there will be seasons in our lives when God will seek to remove our props so that He may build us, change us and use us to bless the world. Each of us are part of the body of Christ and each of have been mandated with the Great Commission. If the mandate to move has not come from heaven to your life yet; keep following Jesus and I can promise you it will. God wants to use you and in order to use you He is going to move you. Your move may not be geographical but it will definitely change the status quo of your life.
There are some who are reading this who know the answer is “yes” and you have begun your journey of faith towards that which God has promised. Be encouraged in your faith. God does not lie and He has not forgotten you. Don’t give up on the promise but pursue God every day. Your life is not wrapped up in the promise that God has made you; your life is wrapped up in Him. As we move from faith to faith we begin to realize that we are not living for the “someday”; we are living today. You are not working your way towards a promise or into the perfect will of God. Every day is an opportunity to be the man or woman that God has called you to be.
There are some who are reading this who know the answer is “yes” and you have yet to leave your Haran. Your Haran may be a job or a church or it may even the place where you live. There may be many valid excuses why you have not pursued the calling of God upon your life or the promise that God has given unto you but I doubt that any of them will provide a valid argument when you stand before Jesus Christ. I have no desire to heap condemnation upon you but I have a strong desire to provoke to do what you know God is calling you to do.
Our life of faith is antithetical to the world’s way of doing things. Our natural minds want a step-by-step plan from God before we move. Walking by faith requires us to trust that God has everything under control even when we cannot tell what is happening. We do not need to know our destination as long as we know the One with whom we are travelling.
If God could guide Abram from Haran to the Promised Land I believe that you and I can trust God to guide us in our lives. If God could found a nation from parents who had their “Promised Son” at ages 90 & 100 then I believe that God has the ability to perform what He has promised to you and I. If Abram was willing to leave everything he had ever known at the word of the Lord at age 75 then you and I must be willing to respond in faith and obedience to the word of the Lord. God the Father became known as the God of Abraham because Abram was willing to move when God said move.
His hands are large enough to hold you and I. His foresight knows the end from the beginning. God can be trusted to fulfill His promise. I pray that each of will have the boldness to move when God leads us away from that which is currently familiar.
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)