Connie and I have been reading and discussing the saga of Abraham in the book of Genesis. We have been impressed by the man’s faith in the Living God. Responding to God’s call, he left his homeland and family and migrated to a new land which the Lord promised to give to him and his descendants.
One of the striking features of the story is his awareness of a personal God who spoke to him, guided him, corrected him when he was wrong, who blessed him materially, and who made an eternal covenant with him. We are told that Abraham believed in the Lord and the Lord “credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). He will do the same for us (Romans 4:23-24).
God revealed himself to Abraham as a living person. He has names by which he reveals himself. These names teach us about his nature and his purposes for Abraham and for us.
In Genesis 12 Abraham built altars of worship, “calling on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8, 13:4). In the new land, among people who did not know the Lord, Abraham demonstrated his faith in Yahweh, who would later explain the meaning of this name as “I am who I am,” the eternally self-existent God, the one who is the only God (Exodus 3:15).
After a successful military rescue mission to save his nephew, Abraham worshipped the Lord as God Most High and Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19, 22). By these names and titles, Abraham testified that he was devoted to the supreme God who provided for all of his needs.
God identified himself to Abraham as God Almighty in Genesis 17:1. He intended to fulfill his promise to Abraham in spite of appearances to the contrary. Despite a long delay God Almighty would give Abraham a son through whom he would fulfill his covenant promise to bless all nations of the earth. The stress is on God’s power in the face of human helplessness.
Abraham’s prayer of intercession for the city of Sodom has much to teach us about approaching God. It was respectful and humble. Yet at the same time it was bold in expressing his desires. Abraham’s prayer in Genesis 18:25 was based on an understanding of God’s character, God’s authority and God’s willingness: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Abraham did not get what he asked for, but he trusted God to always do the right thing, even in judgment.
The name Eternal God is used in Genesis only in 21:33. Abraham invoked this name in worship, remembering that the God who made his unconditional covenant would keep his promises to him and to his descendants after him forever (Genesis 17:8-9).
Abraham’s God was, and is, the God of heaven (Genesis 24:7). He is also the God of earth. I think Abraham’s faith in this God is a beautiful and compelling example to us. He shows us that the transcendent God of heaven is not a remote abstraction beyond the stars, but he is also the God of earth who takes an active and personal interest in his people here.
As Connie and I have been reminded of Abraham’s faith, I have been praying for a greater faith in this living, personal God. Romans 4:20-22 says of Abraham: “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Pastor Randy Faulkner