The Objects of Faith
ACCORDING to the following Scripture, God called Abraham in sovereign grace:
And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.” – Joshua 24:2-3.
Man had utterly failed after the flood of Noah, and God now abandons the nations and gives them up to themselves. He steps aside to choose one man in sovereign grace. Through him, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, He begins an entirely new work. Through Abraham and his seed He is to give the revelation of His will in the Scriptures, and out of Abraham and his seed is to come the Savior.
Now you have to remember and understand that the story of Abraham was given to us to illustrate God’s plan of salvation. It is far more than just the history of a man and his descendants, interesting as that may be. In Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, who with their descendants dominate the entire Bible, we have a revelation of the message of the grace of God. In the last article/post we quoted Romans 8:28 and 29 and pointed out that God has determined and predestinated every believer in the Lord Jesus, the Father is directing the chosen’s steps, and that before God is through with them, He is going to make them just like the character and nature of Jesus. God never will stop until He accomplishes that purpose. God seems to be saying, “I’m not going to leave a single stone unturned, I’m not going to leave a thing undone, even though it may mean pain and tragedy and suffering and tears and heartbreak and bereavement and death, or even the judgment seat of Christ, until you My chosen become like my Son.” This purpose is fixed and this destiny is determined beforehand. That is the meaning of the word “predestinate.”
As an illustration of how God accomplishes this purpose, we have the perfect example in Abraham. God had to make him like His Son, and it was a long and a painful process. From Genesis 12 through 22, where the process finally reaches the peak of victory and faith in Abraham’s wiliness to sacrifice his son Isaac, we have God dealing in grace with Abraham, making him more and more like Himself. When God began to deal with him, He did not stop until He had accomplished His purpose. Sometimes it meant in the life of Abraham failure, hardship, heartbreak. It meant pulling his heart out of his very breast; it meant stumbling at times; yes, it even meant years out of fellowship with God; but all of this testing had its part in the overruling wisdom and foreknowledge of God in finally accomplishing what He had set out to do with Abraham when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees.
Abraham is one of the great examples that have been set before us to encourage and strengthen for the life the Lord has planned for each of us. As the writer of Hebrews proclaims:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses . . . let us run . . . the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1.
The term witnesses here does not mean those that are watching us, but rather those who went through the race and are “witnesses” to the truth behind our faith in God. Like Abraham, we can follow in the footsteps of the examples they set before us.