We read of the story of the Father of our faith, the one who exemplifies and demonstrates the kind of faith we ought to have in God. We would have to do what Abraham did in similitude and semblance to attract and obtain the interest and notice of Heaven coupled with the Heavenly governance and protocol. We were taught by the greatest theologian that ever lived, the great Apostle Paul that if anyone would have to be baptised into the mystical body called Church, such a person would have to believe in the God that made the Heavens and the Earth, just as Abraham did. It was written of him ‘Abraham believed God and it was accredited to him as righteousness’.
He was born to Terah and hailed from Ur of the Chaldea’s. They worshipped the moon god, what is termed today as idol worshipping. When Abraham encountered God the first instruction he received was to leave his father, mother and family. God said to him, ‘I want to show you a place where you have never been’. However, Abraham was not able to make that move into the unseen land until his father died. As soon as Terah died, it was recorded that Abraham, who had previously heard the instruction from God, therefore moved from Ur to an unknown place, all based on promise.
Being made a curse of the Law, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law; that the BLESSING of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through Faith. For it is written, ‘cursed is everyone that hangs from the tree’.
It was written about this great patriarch that he did not consider his own body, which was as good as dead, but was strong in FAITH giving glory to the God of all creation. He did not stagger, totter, wobble or teeter through the witness of his senses because he trusted in that which God had told him. At this time, he was almost a hundred years old and his wife was close to ninety years old. They expected, against all odds and human accreditations, endorsements and approvals, that God was able to do exceedingly, abundantly above that which He (God) had promised.
As I look in the book which keeps the records, it is declared that the annals, chronicles and archives of history, record that Abraham believed in that God who had the ability to call things which had never existed; things that were not in existence as though they were already in existence. We understand by the Book that the worlds were framed, bordered, enclosed and structured by that which God spoke.
It was inscribed of this great man that when God called on Him to sacrifice and slaughter the only son whom he had gotten by promise from the Alpha and Omega as a ransom, he did not think twice because he trusted that God was able to give him another son. He proceeded to a mount of sacrifice called Moriah and without hesitation arranged the wood in order and tied his only son Isaac. Just as he was about to put the knife to his son’s neck, God called Abraham and instructed him not to kill his son. By this action, Abraham was confirmed and endorsed by the heavenly structure of his unending love, trust and reliance coupled with his confidence in God, the grand designer of the Heavens and Earth.
In God, we have some of the characteristics that were never shared with all that He created, although He made man after His image and likeness. His divine omnipotence: His being all-powerful, all supremacy, influence, might and control. His divine omniscience: His being all-knowing, awareness, insight, sagacity, sapience, wisdom and insight. His omnipresence: His being everywhere at the same time, ubiquitously and universally.
For Abraham to have made these decisions and remain confident in God, being endorsed by God and the twenty four elders in the celestial and terrestrial environs, one would have thought that Abraham had all the characteristics that God didn’t share with His creature. If this is true, the conundrum that springs out of our minds would be what was responsible for the propelling force that guarded and guided Abraham as he walked with God.
Please follow me closely in this discourse as I highlight the factors responsible and available to this great man of FAITH. We read from Genesis 15.
God had told Abraham to leave his kindred. As an incentive, He gave promises: ‘I will make your name great. I will bless you. I will make you into a great Nation. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse. All the people of the earth will be blessed through you. Walk before me (God) faithfully and be blameless. I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. As for me (God), this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful and kings will come out of you’.
On hearing all these promises from God, Abraham fell to his face in fright and questioned God on how He intends to accomplish these great but unbelievable promises and how Abraham will know that He will gain lands and all that God had promised. This he did because he wanted something in which he could anchor his hope on. This sounds like someone has made you a promise and you then begin to ask for proof that the said promise would actually be realised. We all want proof, don’t we?
He had an uncommon encounter with God as God tries to put his mind at rest. God knew Abraham needed proof like normal human beings would think intrinsically. Therefore, God instructs him to get some animals: a heifer, goat and ram, each to be three years old. He also told him to bring a dove and young pigeon. He got the animals and God told him to divide the heifer, goat and ram into two parts and arrange them adjacent to each other, but the birds were not to be divided into two parts. God was about to cut a covenant with Abraham.
In ancient times, COVENANTS were taken so seriously that you could not just cut a covenant with anyone because they carried penalties if broken by any of the parties involved. The principle of covenants was strictly understood by all in those days, because if either party did not fulfil their part of the covenant, something tragic would happen to the offending party.
The general idea about the animals that were cut into two parts was that a requirement between the two parties involved in covenant would be to walk between the divided animals so as to signify that “may this be done to me if I break this covenant; may I be torn apart, may I be cut in half like these animals if I fail to carry out my part of the covenant”.
Abraham prepares the animals, but God is not man; so they won’t both walk between the divided animals. Abraham falls asleep and a horror of darkness enveloped him. A smoking furnace and a burning lamp (signifying the presence of God) went between the animals. ‘Wow!, That was God’, he would have reassured himself when he woke up from his dream. God made that covenant with Abraham. Abraham was not allowed to participate as the second party in the covenant; God was on both sides. In other words, God assured Abraham that He (God) should be torn apart like the animals if eventually He failed to keep His part of the covenant. God took full responsibility for the fulfilment of the covenant if eventually Abraham fails, although God was the first and the second party in the agreement.
Abraham will sin; Isaac, his son will be a wimp. Jacob would be a trickster and a deceiver all the way through. Jacob will have twelve sons, one of his sons will sleep with his father’s wife and another will sleep with his daughter-in-law. Ten of his sons will connive to sell or kill their brothers and these are the PATRIARCHS! Still God did not wipe them out. God has sworn in this symbolic act that whatever curses fall, they are to fall on Him.
This was the anchorage that made Abraham trust in God. He had nothing to lose and peradventure anything happens, God was to be torn apart like the animals divided into two parts. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself.
At Golgotha, there was darkness from the sixth hour to the ninth hour and eventually because of the failure of mankind, He exclaimed, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me’ and He died. God died. Today, we are faced with the promises of God and because we need encouragement to hold fast to a hope set before us; He Died.
His immortality eventually became mortality; his immutability did suffer mutation; the impossible became possible; the infallibility became fallible. God was cut off and trampled in the dust.
By the death, burial and resurrection, we have hope that He who promises is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we think or ask for in accordance to the power that works within us. It is not a co-operative venture, it is not God helps those who help themselves, and this is the working of God and God alone.
We worry, cry, doubt and become despondent because we have refused to trust God as the anchor of our soul.