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May 16, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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.'”—Genesis 12:1 (NLT)
Have you ever had to begin again on something? Maybe you were working on a math problem and you missed a step, so the teacher instructed you to redo the whole thing. Maybe you were dissatisfied with the way a drawing, painting, or poem you had been working on came out and needed a fresh canvas. Maybe life took a dark turn, disaster hit, the bottom fell out, and you were forced to pick up the pieces and start over. Whatever your story is, I think we can all agree we know what it means to have to start afresh on something.
But what about when life is going great? Have you ever had to begin again when everything was perfectly fine? No roadblocks or speed bumps, no major mistakes, nothing overlooked or missed? It seems strange, right? Well, that’s exactly what the Lord asked of Abram!
It all started in Genesis 12. Here, God instructed Abram to pack up and leave his home, to uproot his family and travel to a foreign land. Now, as a native Miamian, I can tell you that leaving South Florida altogether, leaving my job, my friends, my family, and the life I’ve built here over the last 33 years would be extremely tough and heart wrenching. So, I can’t imagine being Abram who was 75 years old when God told him to step out in faith. And even more challenging is the fact that Abram wasn’t even told where to go. God said, “Go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NLT). Wow! How do you even begin to process that?
Here’s the thing, though: Along with this colossal call came a precious promise: “I will make you into a great nation . . . All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2–3 NLT). And at 75 years old, Abram heads out with his family. In faith, he goes! And in that moment, his life truly began again with new purpose and new expectation for the future. Even though he probably had a really good thing going, he believed the Lord had something even better in mind, that God’s promise was going to blow him away.
The interesting thing about God’s promise was that Abram and Sarai had no children. How would God make a great nation out of a childless old man and his barren wife? Well, Abram wondered the same thing! So, God revealed His plan and told Abram he would have a child, and that eventually his descendants would outnumber the stars! And guess what? Despite the odds, despite the logic and circumstances, Abram believed God! And it was at that moment that God called him righteous (Genesis 15:6).
Later in Genesis 15, God seals His promise to Abram by making a covenant. God was originally going to make this pact with Abram through a sacrifice. But before this could happen, God caused Abram to fall asleep, and as he awoke he “saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day . . .” (Genesis 15:17-18 NLT). The covenant was made without Abram because it wasn’t dependent on him or on his descendants, but on God alone.
You see, the story of Abram teaches us our role in God’s plan of salvation. It’s not work, but worship. In Genesis 12, Abram received the promise by faith. And immediately after that he built an altar—a place of worship. Why? Because he understood very clearly that neither his right standing with God nor the promises God made to him were dependent on who he was or what he did, but on God’s faithfulness.
This is the power of the Easter story. As we see with Abram, it’s not about what we can do, but what He’s done. It’s about the sacrifice He walked through on our behalf. So worship Him, because “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ . . . And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26–27, 29 NKJV)—the promise that God fulfilled to Abraham through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus.