In my last blog about Learning to Love the Old Testament, I talked about the story of Adam and Eve. I wish I could discuss every story in the Old Testament. But for the purpose of this series, so that we can get an overview of the Old Testament, I am going to stick with a few of the major stories in chronological order.
So that means that I need to fill in the gaps.
After they were cast out of the Garden, Adam and Eve had children. Their children had children, and so on, and the earth populated. But as mankind proliferated in number, evil also proliferated. The whole world was corrupt. This made God totally bummed out.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Genesis 6:5-6
God had such great dreams for mankind. His heart’s desire was to be close to the people he had created. But they had sinned in the Garden, and their sin continued to multiply.
So God decided the best way to deal with this was to wipe the slate clean and start anew. He would bring a flood over the earth which would wash away the crooked generation. He would preserve one person whom he found to be upright, along with this man’s family. This man was Noah. Under God’s direction, Noah built an ark, a ship that would survive the flood and, in a sense, save mankind, along with other living creatures.
The future would be built on of the descendants of a man who respected God and lived right.
This theme is continued over and over in the Bible. God finds someone who follows him with all their heart. God builds his future upon this person.
Ten generations after Noah, we find the most famous example of this in the story of his descendant, Abraham. It makes my heart thrill to see how God found one man with faith, one man who would obey him. What God did with Abraham laid the foundation for so much of what we know today. It became the bedrock of three major world religions. It changed the world. It ultimately paved the way for us to be saved.
So I want to encourage you to read the story of Abram, later called Abraham, in Genesis 12-25. It is such a monumental tale. Read it and then let’s talk about five totally cool things we can learn from it.
. . .
Okay, if you’re up to speed on Abraham, here’s the first cool thing we can learn:
1. God can work with your faith.
It was flat out amazing that Abraham had the faith he had. You see, Abraham didn’t have the written word, as we do, or as Jews who lived after Moses did, to teach him about God. I’m sure his forefathers passed down some type of knowledge and belief. But we also know that Abraham’s father worshiped other gods. (Joshua 24:2) We know that Abraham lived among heathen nations.
So where did his iconic faith come from?
It came from God speaking to him. “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
But it had to also come from Abraham’s decision to listen to God. Something about God must have resonated as truth with Abraham. And he nurtured this spark in his heart as the one thing that was most important. He believed that the God who spoke to him was THE GOD, awesome and mighty, and must therefore be revered.
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6
Abraham listened to God, and up and left his country and his people. Because God said so, he put his hope in the impossible, that he would have a son. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…” (Romans 4:18) Because God asked it of him, he was willing to sacrifice what was dearest to him, his son.
The bottom line is that Abraham’s spark of faith became a catalyst in his life.
We probably all feel that spark in our heart at one time or another. But how often do we act on it? How often do we decide it is the most important thing? How often are we willing to change our life?
Yet the thing is, we actually can grab onto the spark and take a scary step of faith with it, just as Abraham did. It’s not a Herculean task of brute strength that is beyond us. It’s doesn’t even require great faith. It just requires enough to take the first step.
And if reading about Abraham is not enough to help us take the first step, God gives us example after example of heroes of faith — Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Ruth, David, Jehoshaphat, Ezra, Peter, Paul, Phillip. The list goes on and on.
The Bible is a book about ordinary people who find a kernel of faith, act on it, and are used by God for great purposes.
And that is what makes the Bible so remarkable. God doesn’t forge his will through people who, of themselves, have amazing talents and powers. He builds his kingdom on something as mundane as belief — something each one of us can have. Each one of us can, like Abraham, go against the grain of our surroundings and circumstances and choose to believe. Jesus stated this loud and clear, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.’” Luke 17:6
If Abraham could have faith, we can too. And if we have faith, God can use us in a powerful way.
Father God, thank you for the example of Abraham. His faith is so inspiring. I want to have faith like he did, but it’s so hard! Help me to have faith in this area:________________________.
Father, I do believe, help me to overcome my unbelief! I pray you can do something with my little spark of faith. Help me to step out today, holding your hand, and going in the direction you would have me go, as Abraham did. Help me to not freak out at the sacrifice or scary thing you may ask of me.
Help me to hope against all hope! I’ve lost hope in this area:____________________.
Father, I’m excited at the way you can use me. I’m on board, let’s go! May your will be done through me.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.