To understand the biblical message, it is necessary to have an understanding of the word faith. In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” William Barclay says, “Faith is hope turned into certainty.”
Abraham was a great man of faith. His life demonstrates what it means to trust God. Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldeans where he was surrounded by family with some wealth and many people whom he loved and cherished. All this was about to change when God spoke to Abraham and said, “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 the people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3).
Abraham showed faith in God’s promises. Leaving his people, he left security, prosperity, family, and friends. Although this decision made little rational sense, Abraham was obedient to God’s Word. I have to believe that Abraham did not really want to go, nor did his family give their blessing to this move. Understanding what it took for Abraham to leave all that security and go to a land with little security is difficult for us. He was a stranger in a foreign land. He lived in a tent, not a comfortable house as had been his custom.
Those who lived a hundred years ago understood better than we do today. We enjoy a modern transportation system that gets us anywhere in our world in just a few hours. This move, for Abraham, was a permanent farewell to his past.
I have a letter written to my grandmother from her brother living in Denmark. He writes:
April 8, 1932
I was happy to receive a sign of life from you again. For we are now old enough that we may expect to be called home any day.
I believe that this will reach you by April 17, your 75th birthday. Receive, therefore, on that occasion my most heartfelt congratulations. May God protect you on life’s way till the sun sets; it shines on the path that God is love.
It has now been almost 50 years since you left for America. It is a very bad time for farmers here. Many lose their farms. The rest of us have fixed incomes and are doing well. Unemployment is also high in Denmark. Age is starting to take its toll on me, but we need to be happy as long as we can walk around and work a little, and for that we should thank God.
When it gets a little warmer we need to get the garden fixed up, but it is still cold outside.
My greetings from my wife and your devoted one.
Your brother in Christ,
Can’t you feel the strong feelings between this brother and sister, even though the miles had separated them for many years? How he wondered if she were still alive, and how he must have talked about meeting her in the heavenly home! Perhaps he even wondered why she did such a stupid thing Ð to move so far away Ð and how she would have been so much better off to remain with her family.
Separation from family and loved ones is never easy. Nor was it for Abraham. Still, in faith God’s children have the assurance that God walks with us. We, through faith in Christ Jesus, believe the promise of a permanent meeting in the heavenly city whose architect and builder is God. On this earth we have no lasting city.
How do we know this? Faith has turned it into certainty, for Jesus has given us a promise: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also ” (John 14:2-3).
This promise makes no sense to the unbeliever, but to those in Christ, it is a reality on which we base our lives. Our lives are so much larger when they are built on faith. We are not confined to a few years here on this earth, and then that is the end of our being. No, we are immortal beings. All this goes way beyond our human understanding. However, we live by faith.
Think of it! We do not know what is before us. The days are uncertain. The loss of our material possessions that have taken a lifetime to accumulate, and upon which we have built our security, causes us fear until we hear Jesus say, I am with you. I will provide.
And in faith we reply, I do not know how God will do this, but I trust him.
What about the world we leave for our children and grandchildren? As people of faith, if we have bathed them in the truths of God’s Word climaxing in Jesus Christ, all is well. They too will inherit God’s eternal promises.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is called the Spiritual Hall of Fame. We will not make that list, but our names are written in the Book of Life through Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we place our faith.