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.
When Noah left the ark, God repeated His creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7). New city-states were established but men continued to demonstrate their rebellion against God’s authority.
In grace, “the God of glory” appeared to Abraham in the city of Ur (in modern day Iraq), and called him to leave his land and family and live as a pilgrim in a new place, the land of Canaan. Through archaeological research, we know that the inhabitants of Ur worshipped the moon god, known to the Sumerians as Nanna and to the Babylonians as Sin. Yet by faith, Abraham left it all behind to venture out into the unknown.
God made wonderful promises to Abraham: a perpetual land grant; to father a great nation; to have a great name; and to be a source of blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). But the Bible tells us that he and his family “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
Perhaps when Abraham left Ur, there were those who thought he was mad. To leave behind your people, your culture, and your religion because of some vision of a strange God is either extreme gullibility or insanity! But that vision of God’s glory and that revelation of God’s promises gave him the strength to persevere despite great hardships and long delays.
The Bible plainly shows that while Abraham exercised great faith in the promises of God, there were times when his faith faltered. God permitted him to go through difficult times to test and strengthen his faith. Just as steel is hardened through continued exposure to heat and pounding, so faith must be strengthened through trials. It is then that we, like Abraham, must remember and cling to the character and promises of God.
God did bless Abraham and gave him a great name, being honoured by followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. But his greatest honour is that through him, God sent the means of blessing for all nations, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1).