By Will Whyte

Read Part 2 here...

As one can easily tell from even a cursory reading of Genesis 3–11, the results of “the fall” are nothing short of disastrous, both for humanity and for the creation itself. The fundamental shift from trusting in God to trusting in humanities’ own ability to rule left humans isolated from God, themselves, and turned taking care of God’s creation into a somewhat painful task (Genesis 3:8–19). But God does not give up! He does not throw away his creation and humanity. Instead he chooses to work with and within his creation and people to ultimately restore all things. But yet again, this will require the very thing that enables relationship and growth, trust.

In Genesis 12:1–3 we read that

“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you.”

This is quite the calling, and quite the blessing as well. In fact, this is a key text in understanding Israel’s origin. For in this text God promises three key things that the Israelites hold dear. God promises 1) a land, 2) to make them into nation 3) to bless them and make them a blessing. Not to be forgotten within this threefold promise, is that God promised that he would make Abram’s name great.

But let’s take a look at What God actually promised. He said, “Go to the land I will show you.” That is not very clear, no specifics are provided. The other promises are all future oriented, with again, no details provided. And yet Genesis 12:4 reveals this astounding response,

“So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”

No bargaining, no questionings, and apparently no doubting or accusing. Abram took God at his word and went. Now, God does provide details very soon after his initial calling of Abram. In Genesis 12:7 God tells Abram that the land he has travelled to will become the land that God will give to his offspring. In Genesis 15:4–5 God provides further details regarding how precisely he will make Abram into a great nation, and how numerous his descendants will be. God promises Abram that will have a son. His response is recorded in Genesis 15:6

“Abram TRUSTED the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

The Hebrew word which I have translated as “TRUST” is “amen,” and in this context specifically refers to putting trust in someone. God counted Abram as righteous precisely because he TRUSTED him. Paul, thousands of years down the road reminds his Galatian readers of this when he writes,

“’Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand then, that those who trust are children of Abraham. The scriptures foresaw that God would justify the gentiles through trust, and announced the gospel in advance through Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you’ So those who trust are blessed along with Abraham, the man of trust.”

So, God begins his mission to redeem the entire creation, including the people who bear his image, because he found someone who would do precisely what the first humans did not. Abram TRUSTED God. Abram did not have all the details, but God provided details as Abram went along. Almost immediately after leaving Haran in Genesis 12:4 he experienced a famine in the land God promised to him (Genesis 12:10), yet God protected and provided for him in Egypt (Genesis 12:10–20). As well, after Abram and Lot divided the land amongst one another kings came and captured Lot and took him away (Gen 13:5—14:16).

So far, in these three short chapters Abram has had moments and experiences that would cause him to question, doubt, and even accuse God of causing harm. He could have said “you called me out of my land to allow me to starve in a famine!” Or, “You called me out to get my nephew captured?” But instead we see someone who continually communes with God and builds altars as signposts to remember what God has promised him (Genesis 12:7–8; 13:14–18). We see someone whose future establishment is solely in the LORD’S hands as he refuses gifts from a king (Genesis 14:22–24). When faced with the issue of being childless, we see someone who will trust God with the seemingly impossible—and God loves it! God says this is my kinda person! (Genesis 15:4–6).

This is not a wacky biblical story. This is actually a realistic story. God calls, he promises, and life gets frustrating along the way, famines, family tensions, horrible losses, moments of hopelessness. Yet Abram trusts, yet Abram and God talk, Abram continually remembers what God has promised, Abram TRUSTS. Trust is not just mental acknowledgment. This trust forces him to act and live under the rule and guidance of another, as Abram says to a king in Genesis 14:22–23,

“I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you…so that you will never be able to say ‘I made Abram rich.’”

This week, while we are all under this new form of frustration, take some time to check on your trust. Take time to pray, to reflect on God’s promises in the past. Maybe you have some of your own sign-post type items, those things that remind of you of what God has said or done in the past. I have a picture of a man holding the wheel on a boat and Jesus is standing behind him pointing the way. Whenever I feel lost in moments, this picture still reminds me that I am not on this journey alone, and that there is another who is directing my path. Read the story of Abraham, and know that he is our great, great, great, great, great, etc. grandfather in the faith. We are to be like him, people who trust in the LORD.

 

Stay tuned for Part 4...

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