Faith, hope, and hanging in there

1 04 2011

 Imagine your 100th birthday – card from the Queen, birthday cake and candles, presents…and a promise from God.  And what a promise!

“Then the Lord took Abraham outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!'”

That’s a lot of kids.  How many did Abraham have already?  0, zero, none – however you say it, if you have no chidlren by the time you’re a hundred, the likelihood of having any is…0, zero, none.

So what does Abraham do with this promise?  The account in Genesis tells us that, “Abraham believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s an amazing response.  I think I would have wondered if dementia was finally setting in.  Not Abraham.  He did have questions, he must have struggled, but the fundamental posture of his heart was one of trust.  He was willing to hang in there although he couldn’t see how the promise could possibly come true.

This is what Paul writes about him –

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger…  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”  (You might like to read the full story of the promise of a son, and beyond, in Genesis)

And Paul has a bigger purpose in writing about Abraham than simply telling an unlikely story of hope.  He uses Abraham to construct his argument about how people are made right with God.  The Jews of the time thought that the answer was in keeping the Mosaic Law  but Paul counteracts that and says, “It’s faith alone.”  Then at the end of Romans 4 he neatly ties his points together –

“And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”

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