The pages of scripture are full of men and women whose lives teach us so much. Some, like Ahab and Jezebel, revel powerfully sobering lessons of the reality and consequence of wickedness. But most illustrate vividly the blessing of serving God. Chief among the great examples of a holy life is Abraham—he who staggered not in unbelief.
Abraham is an example of an obedient faith. It is said of him in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Paul referenced that passage in Romans 4:3 and James did as well in James 2:23. The point that both of those New Testament writers made is explained perfectly by James 2:24—“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” From the time that God called Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 12, his life is a constant reminder of the importance of being obedient to the will of God. When God called him to leave his homeland, he left. When He commanded him to circumcise the men of his household, he did it immediately, and when God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, he set out to do just that. Consequently, Romans 4:20 says of him, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” There may be times when we are unsure what the future may hold, or how we will be able to make ends meet. But Abraham’s example reminds us that we must always be obedient to the will of God regardless of the circumstance.
Abraham is an example of a growing faith. One of the low points of Abraham’s life is found in Genesis 12. There was a famine in the land so Abraham began traveling to Egypt. Before he arrived, he began to fear that the Egyptians would desire to have his wife, Sarah, and murder him in order to get her. So, Abraham and Sarah hatched a plan to lie to Pharaoh and tell him that she was only his sister. Indeed, they did lie to Pharaoh and God plagued Pharaoh’s house because of it
(Gen. 12:17). No doubt this was one of Abraham’s greatest mistakes. However, many years later, in Genesis 18:19, the Lord said of Abraham,
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
How remarkable God would make such a statement of a man who earlier had lied to Pharaoh out of fear. It is a powerful lesson that reminds us that Abraham’s faith, like ours, was one that grew and became stronger. His example reminds us that if we “desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2) then our faith will grow in strength as well.
Abraham is an example of a rewarded faith. The Hebrews writer said of Abraham and Sarah, “These all died in faith not having received the promises… But now they desire a better county, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16). Abraham was a faithful servant of God. In fact, James 2:23 describes him as “the friend of God.” He reminds us of that fact that God rewards those who are faithful to him. Peter spoke of the day in which we received the “end of our faith” (1 Pet. 1:9). It is a reference to fact that some day the end of all human affairs will arrive, and the faithful of God will go to be with Him in Heaven forever. What a day that will be when the fruit of faith is realized. Abraham’s faithfulness reminds us daily of the multiplicity of blessings that are found in being God’s faithful child.