When we read our Biblical stories it is common to think that it was easy for people like Abraham, Moses or Daniel to believe in the Word of God. You see, we can read their stories in a single sitting from beginning to end, and not realise that these accounts took place over many years – often taking an entire lifetime.
Whilst we can quickly skim to the final outcome of their walk of faith, they couldn’t… they needed to walk that out.
In this episode, we will put ourselves in Abram’s shoes to find out what it really means to believe.
Standing in Abram’s Shoes
When, in Genesis 15, Abram received the vision from God that his offspring would be as the stars of heaven he was already getting on in years and was still childless… and on top of that, his wife Sarai had passed childbearing age.
Would you have been quick to believe that God would fulfill His promise in that seemingly impossible situation? I think if we are really honest about it many of us would probably have to admit that we would not.
Yet Abram was different. His response is recorded in only a few simple words, yet these words carry much meaning:
“…and he believed the Lord”
This was not just an inner belief on Abram’s part. He literally voiced his ‘Amen’ to the vision God had given him. It became a part of his present day reality.
Believing in God’s faithfulness equates to righteousness
What God had promised Abram was something which was a physical impossibility. Yet Abram believed that God would accomplish that which He had promised, that God would be faithful.
This belief in the faithfulness of God was counted to Abram as righteousness.
Here we see something important. Abram’s righteousness wasn’t attributed to him only at the end of his walk, after he had stayed the course, after he had proven his faithfulness. No, here we see Abram being declared righteous at the beginning of his walk. He was declared righteous because he believed. He believed in the faithfulness of God.
Has the vision God gave Abram been fulfilled?
God’s promise of offspring was fulfilled. Abram had a son, by his wife Sarah, from who descended the 12 tribes of Israel.
However what about the second part of the promise… that his offspring would be exalted as the stars of heaven? Has this part of the promise been fulfilled?
We can trace the descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel to the Anglo Saxon people today.
Throughout history we have experienced golden ages wherein our nations have been lifted up and exalted. We have prospered through trade and the arts, won military battles, and sent missionaries to all the corners of the world to deliver the gospel.
What does the exalting of nations depend on?
These periods of greatness occurred when we, collectively as a people, believed in the faithfulness of God.
Let’s consider the reign of Queen Victoria, during who’s reign the British Empire expanded greatly.
A well known portrait of Queen Victoria shows her receiving an ambassador from East Africa, to whom she is presenting a fine Bible. The story behind this painting is that a diplomatic delegation was sent to Britain to enquire as to how she had become so powerful in the world. The Queen did not answer by telling the ambassador about the number of her fleet, the strength of her armies, or the power of her wealth. Rather she handed him a beautifully bound copy of the bible and said:
‘Tell the Prince that this is the secret of England’s Greatness’.
Today, we are far removed from this reality. Our societies have become increasingly secularised. We no longer believe in the faithfulness of God.
Listen to how Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation on the 5th of April 2020. See how her vision differs greatly to that of Queen Victoria:
While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.
Queen Elizabeth II, 5 April 2020
We no longer consider God to be the source of our greatness and strength, but instead choose to rely on our own ability.
We do not believe God. We do not mirror the faithfulness of our forefather Abram.
So is all lost or will the vision of Abram be fulfilled?
However, despite our unfaithfulness, the faithfulness of God remains. His promise still stands. We will be a light to the nations of the world. Not only on an individual level as believers, but collectively as a nation.
But how will this happen?
It requires one step. A step that is small, but at the same time profoundly large.
“[Abram] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
It requires humility.
When we believe fully with our heart, mind and soul, in the promises of God and submit in humility to Him, we gain access to His Power as He is glorified in us.
Believing in the faithfulness of God in our highly secularised world is an incredibly tough thing to do.
Just like Abram, we need to believe in the seemingly impossible… because God makes it possible.
We can be encouraged by Biblical and modern-day examples of men and women of faith who have walked this path and through whom God has been glorified.
How God is glorified today
Let us consider Desmond Doss, who as a medic in World War 1 refused to carry a weapon onto the battlefield. This of course goes against all logical thinking, yet he believed in the specific Word that God laid on his heart, namely ‘you shall not murder’.
Though initially ridiculed for his belief in God, he remained true to the vision that God had given him. He didn’t shy away from being on the front line. Through maintaining his focus on God’s strength by praying his short prayer “Please Lord, help me get one more…” he was able to pull many of his injured fellow soldiers off Hacksaw Ridge – even after the rest of his battalion had already retreated to safety.
The impossible was made possible as Desmond believed in the faithfulness of God.
His action did not only result in the saving of many lives that day on Hacksaw Ridge, but his battalion saw the glory of God.
The battalion that had first ridiculed the God that Desmond had placed his trust in, now worshipped Him.
There are many other examples of people through whom God has been glorified by believing in His Power. The missionaries Gladys Aylward and Brother Andrew are two that jump to mind.
Let those who have gone before us inspire us all, as individual Israelites, to make this same journey of faith.
Let us believe in the faithfulness of our Almighty God, and may we take that courageous step to place our full trust in Him. Let us make this belief a part of our present-day reality.
As we do so we will be able to do the seemingly impossible. The glory of God will shine brightly in the darkness of our secularised world.
We can be assured that the vision God gave Abram will be fulfilled.
We will, collectively as the nation of Israel, be as the stars – shining forth the glory of God for a blessing to the nations of the world.