The Expository Files.


 A Simple Story About Simple Trust

Hebrews 11:8-12


"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude; innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." Heb. 11:8-12

When God called Abraham, how did Abraham respond? He obeyed. There was no immediate, tangible reward. He didn't know "where he was going." But "by faith Abraham obeyed..." His faith found expression in action. And "by faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise." Here is the story of a man who sojourned, traveled, wandered about in this foreign land with his boys, and he did this for about 100 years. Why? Because he believed he should do whatever God says!

Based on the same faith in God, "he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This is a simple story about simple trust. He left his hometown and sojourned in tents, and lived in hope of something better that he could not see; all of this based on his trust in God. He had a strong expectation of a fixed habitation and a permanent abode: "he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Milligan said, "This is given . . . as the reason why Abraham was satisfied to live as a stranger and sojourner in Canaan. He did so because he was looking for the city which hath the foundations, whose architect and Builder is God. From this and other like passages we are constrained to think that God had given to the patriarchs information with regard to the heavenly country far beyond what is now recorded in Genesis or any other part of the Old Testament," (Milligan, on Heb. 11:10, p.#308).

Again, I am impressed by the simplicity of this story: Here is a man who believed he should do what God says, and wanted to go to heaven! So, when God gave him instruction, he obeyed.

Regarding his wife, "by faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised." God had promised there would be a son born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. At first, Sarah laughed at the very idea but eventually she fully accepted God's promise. She became another example of the activity of simple trust in God.

"Therefore," verse 12 adds, "from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude - innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." Simple trust in God rewarded!

God promised a son would be born to this old couple, they believed and lived by their faith in God, the son was born and from that son a whole nation of people came, "innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." From that nation, the Messiah came to live and die for us. Simple, obedient trust in God was involved in the coming of the Messiah. Simple, obedient trust is the only acceptable response to Him.

The kind of faith illustrated by Abraham and Sarah is just what we need. It means, hearing, believing and doing what God says, trusting His promise of a better place: "...for here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come," (Heb. 13:14).

By Warren E. Berkley 
From Expository Files 4.10; October 1997

 

 

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