By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. – Hebrews 11:8
Text: Genesis 12:1-4, 7, 15:6, 17:5; Galatians 3:14; John 8:56
Prop: A “Moving Sale” sign or poster of Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Summary: The story of Abraham’s journey to faith. His blessing to us was realized in Jesus Christ.
This sign says, “Moving Sale.” If you were going to move away you might sell some of your belongings to reduce the amount of items you had to pack for the trip. It takes a lot of effort to move a long way. How many of you would be willing to pack up all your stuff to move if you didn’t even know where you were going? (Look for a show of hands.) That is exactly what Abram did when God promised to bless him. Today I want to tell you how Abram took a journey and became known as Abraham, the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:5)
(Read Genesis 12:1-4)
When Abram was 75 years old God called him. It was time to move (again)*. Abram obeyed God and traveled to Canaan. When he arrived in Shechem the Lord appeared to Abram and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land. (Genesis 12:7) It became clear to Abram that God planned for him to have a child and to receive this particular area of land as a reward. At first Abram showed great faith by leaving his home without knowing where God would lead him, but he was not a perfect person. At times he took matters into his own hands instead of trusting God.
No sooner had he arrived than a famine arose in Canaan. A famine is when you want food but there isn’t any. Abram continued to journey south to Egypt so he would not starve. He was scared that the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife because she was very pretty. So he asked her to say she was his sister but this placed her in danger. It was cowardly of him to use her this way to protect himself. Nevertheless God was faithful to Abram and kept his promise.
Abram returned to Canaan after the famine had passed. As time went by he still did not have a child because Sarai (pronounced SAR-ay-eye) was not able to have a baby. Abram decided to make a future for himself instead of waiting on God’s promise. Sarai convinced Abram to take her Egyptian maid Hagar as a second wife, and she gave birth to Ishmael. God continued to help Abram grow in faith over the years. One day God reminded Abram that he was going to keep his promise and Abram finally believed. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
Before a son was born miraculously to Sarai, God changed her name to Sarah (which means “princess”) and changed Abram’s name to Abraham (which means “father of a lot of people”). It was apparent that God had big plans for Abraham. Even though Abraham laughed at God when God promised him a son by Sarah, God was faithful. When Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100 years old, their son Isaac (which means “laughter”) was born.
A few years later God tested Abraham’s faith. He told Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham loved his son with all his heart but by this time in his walk with God, Abraham was willing to obey God and trust Him for the future, believing God’s promise. God spared Isaac because Abraham showed he loved God even more than his beloved son. Abraham’s journey of faith was now complete.
This story teaches us that God is willing to work with less than perfect people (sinners) that come to him in faith. God is always faithful to keep his promises. We must learn to be patient and wait on God. It was nearly 800 years before Abraham’s descendants owned the Promised Land and many more years before it became the great nation of Israel. But the greatest blessing we have from Abraham is that eventually one of his descendants was Jesus Christ, who brought the offer of salvation to all people (see Galatians 3:14). As it was with Abraham, our journey to faith leads us to Jesus, who said, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)
*His father Terah left Ur in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and headed for Canaan with the whole family when Abram was 70 years old. He followed along the Euphrates River, but settled about halfway around the Arabian desert in Haran. He died there at age 205.
Alternate introduction: (Show poster of stars.) How many stars are there? Too many to count. Today I want to talk about a man that God promised would have descendants (his children and their children and so on) more than the number of stars. God told Abram this before he ever had a child. Let’s learn about his journey to faith, trusting in God and what he was told.
©2001 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
This article was written by Jim