Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Unlikely Hero of the Faith

It’s bad enough that I’m likely the great great great grandson of slave owners.

But 4,000 years ago “father” Abraham was a slave owner. Just as bad, for the first 75 years of his life Abram was an idolater. He openly and publicly worshipped various false gods in the Mesopotamian city of Ur. This ancient city was particularly famous for its worship of the moon god. If you had attended Abram’s 75th birthday party, I’m sure you would have liked the guy. He was a crusty old pagan. An idol worshipper. A slave owner. What was there not to like?

Sometime after Abraham’s 75th birthday, God reveals Himself to Abraham and gives him the gift of faith in the one true God. The Lord then calls Abraham to leave Ur and “go where I will show you.”

While Abraham is slowly making his way toward the Promised Land, God gives Abraham a set of amazing promises that reverberate to our own day.

Some time later, after arriving in the Promised Land, two sets of kingdoms go to war and Abraham’s nephew is taken away as a prisoner. Abraham demonstrates amazing courage and defeats the opposing set of kingdoms. Then, while talking with one of the pagan kings, Abraham does something even more amazing. To the king of Sodom, of all places, Abraham publicly declares his faith in “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”

A short time later, the Lord reiterates his amazing promises to Abraham. In response, in Genesis chapter 15, verse 6, we read one of the Old Testament’s most famous verses: “Abrah believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Did that make Abraham a saint overnight? No. For decades Abraham struggles between belief and unbelief, between faith and fear, between courage and cowardice behaviors.

Many years go by. Finally, at about age 115, Abraham is called by God to make the ultimate sacrifice and for the first time in recorded Scripture, Abraham instantly responds with obedience. Further, he responds with a depth of faith that hasn’t been seen since the days of Noah.

No wonder the apostle Paul later called Abraham “the father of all who believe” whether Jew or Gentile, whether before Christ or after Christ. It took many years, but Abraham truly became a hero of the faith.

Today Abraham still is revered by nearly half the world’s 6.75 billion residents.

More importantly in God’s plan, Abraham is the great great great great great grandfather of Jesus Christ.

If God can transform Abraham, imagine what he can do in the life of the person you consider the least likely to ever believe in God (or believe in him again).

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