“A Lesson in Abram’s Faith” (Series: Five on Five: Genesis)
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-13:4
The story of Abram’s call to leave his country and go to the land God calls him to is familiar and well-known. It is a story of incredible, radical faith. Leaving country, kindred, and his father’s home not only involved a difficult departure from beloved and cherished relationships, it also meant leaving behind his source of physical safety and security. And yet Abram exhibits incredible faith when he responds with obedience and he goes.
We should be rightly challenged by Abram’s faith, a faith that heard what God called him to do and responded immediately with obedience despite all the sacrifices it meant he had to make. It is appropriate to feel challenged by Abram’s faith as we look at our own lives and compare our faith to his. We all have areas of our lives where we refuse to do what we know God would have us do. We refuse, are hesitant, or delay because we know it’s hard and requires sacrifice.
But it’s also important to be inspired by Abram’s faith. The Scriptures remind us that the stories in the Old Testament serve as examples for us to follow (1 Cor. 10:6). Abram’s story is exactly that, a portrait of inspiring faith that we should long and pray to have. In the New Testament book of Hebrews, the author encouraged his readers in the great Hall of Fame of Faith chapter by pointing to the example of Abram (Heb. 11:8-9). Imagine the kind of power that would be unleashed in the church and its witness if we all exhibited the faith of Abram!
Although Abram’s story should challenge and inspire believers, the story also means so much more than this. We need to see what it reveals about the God of Abram’s faith – a God who makes enduring, unbreakable, invincible promises to his people for no other reason than that he is gracious. God’s promise in verses 2-3 are sevenfold, and from the first to the seventh, they all hinge on God’s giving Abram and Sarai a child despite Sarai’s barrenness. However, when they arrive in Canaan they realize the land is barren as well. There is a famine in the land, and if there’s a famine, that means no food, no family, and no future. So Abram takes matters into his own hands and leaves for Egypt.
It becomes clear that Abram had faith to obey God but he did not have faith to trust God. His faith in God was reverential (I’ll do what you say) but not personal (I’ll depend on you always). Abram lost sight of what God had actually said to him. There was only one command (“Go”) but there were seven promises (“I will…”). As important as it is to obey God, God wants us to trust in him. Faith is measured not by what we’re willing to do for God but by what we believe God is willing to do for us! Our faith then is exercised when we depend on God, not when we do for God.
And God proves himself worthy to trust when despite the faithlessness of Abram he still leads him back to Canaan. God shows that his promise is enduring, unbreakable, and invincible. Ultimately God’s promise to Abram is fulfilled not in the birth of Isaac but another Son – his own Son. Jesus came from the line of Abram and came as the promised offspring to bring the blessing of salvation to the world. He came to secure for us the blessing he deserved and receive the curse that we deserved. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis 12 despite Abram’s, Israel’s and our faithlessness. So when we look at Jesus we see the visible reason God is worthy to be trusted. Nothing and nobody can ever derail, thwart, or overturn God’s promises to us. We should look at Jesus daily in order to be reminded daily that we can and should trust in God.
Suggested Group Discussion Questions
- Are you more challenged by Abram’s faith or inspired by his faith according to Genesis 12:1-9?
- If challenged by it, what are some of the areas of your life in which you feel obedience to God is necessary, even if it would require you to make sacrifices? What are the reasons/obstacles you find it hard to obey him?
- If inspired by it, what do you envision Abram-like faith would look like in your life? What would change or be different in your life if you were to actually live this out?
- Do you think it’s easier to exercise faith by obeying God, or to exercise faith through trusting God? What has this looked like in your life? What makes these things easier or harder?
- Have you ever personally experienced the reality of God’s enduring, unbreakable, invincible promise for you despite your faithlessness toward him? How have you experienced God to be faithful to you when you lacked faith in him? Please share to encourage others.
- Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate, and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon?
- Response: Formulate a one-sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.