Open Your Bible
Genesis 11:27-31, Genesis 12:1-7, Genesis 15:1-21, Genesis 17:1-14, 23-37, Galatians 3:8
BY Guest Writer
When the New Testament talks about the great patriarch Abraham, it’s his tremendous faith that is the highlight of his story. He was indeed exceptional, but Abraham wasn’t perfect. Throughout the course of his story, we see that while Abraham clearly believed God’s promise, he didn’t always trust God’s process.
(A part of Abraham’s story is God changing his name, from Abram to Abraham. More on that in a moment. But let’s begin earlier in his journey, before God changed his name.)
When God promised Abram that he would be the father of a son who would be the beginning of a mighty nation, Abram believed God and it was “credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). But his faith didn’t keep him taking from matters into his own hands. He had a son, but not by his wife Sarai. She had been unable to conceive, so, at Sarai’s prompting, Abram slept with Sarai’s servant Hagar. Ishmael was born, but he was not the son of promise.
Abram and his wife took the promise God had made to them and tried to bring it about on their own terms. In a sense, it was the fall all over again (Genesis 3). It wasn’t Abram’s finest moment, but it’s not the end of his story. After his failure, God didn’t abandon His promise to Abram. God had another, better plan. God’s plan was an invitation to stretch Abram’s faith.
God called Abram to a life cut off from his old practices and patterns. This would be symbolized in two ways. First, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. Second, God instructed Abraham to be circumcised. Circumcision showed Abraham’s trust was in the Lord, not in his own flesh, to put it delicately.
This call to obedience was followed by an unbelievable promise. God would demonstrate His faithfulness to Abraham by giving he and his wife Sarah a son; they would name him Isaac.
The Bible tells us he went that very day to circumcise himself and the men of his household.
Can I ask you to think about the faith it took for Abraham to honor God in circumcision when God’s promise of Isaac depended on that very part of his anatomy? Not to be crass, but the circumstances of his circumcision couldn’t have been exactly clinical, and the recovery was likely difficult. And yet, in less than a year, Abraham would be holding the reality of God’s promise in his arms.
Abraham had to completely trust God for the blessing of his son Isaac. His story reminds us that God’s greatest promises often invite the greatest faith. God hadn’t just given Abraham a son, God had strengthened Abraham’s faith.
Our faith must win out over our fear. Fear will cause us to fret, scheme, and take control. Fear will convince us that we can and should take matters into our own hands. Abraham’s story proves that God’s plans won’t always be accomplished in the ways we might imagine. Our faith isn’t built merely on the promises of God, but on the character of the God who makes those promises. We live in confidence that He will fulfill them in His time and in His ways.
Whitney Capps is a national speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her first book, Sick of Me (B&H Publishers) and bible study, We Over Me (LifeWay) both release in March 2019. Whitney is the founder of Simple Seminary, a place for the everyday gal to learn theology. She and her husband, Chad, are raising their four boys just outside Atlanta, Ga. You can connect with her at whitneycapps.com or on Instagram, @whitneycapps.