Obedience to Abraham Gen. 12 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Today we are going to examine the obedience of Abraham in three different episodes in his life. You’re going to see the hard choices he faced when commanded to obey God and you are also going to see the growth of his faith in God as a result of his obedience.
First Episode – Gen 12:1-5 – the occasion of separating from his family and country to go to Canaan. Notice the blessing of obedience [bless them that bless thee] and the protection of obedience [curse him that curseth thee]. You can also see the protection of obedience in Gen 13:1-2, in Abraham’s case, in spite of the famine in Gen 12:10 and the fear of Egypt in Gen 12:12.
Perhaps you haven’t noticed that Abraham didn’t fully obey; he hadn’t completely separated from his family. Lot, his nephew, was still with him. By Gen 13:8-12, they had to separate because of the abundance of their possessions and the strife of their herdsmen.
One of the greatest difficulties with obedience is that obeying God may be a grief to your family. It may be painful for to leave them in order for you to follow God. They may not understand and they may be very disappointed. Their chiding and doubt may be humiliating to you. One of the hardest things we see is new converts making a break with Catholicism and, thus, their family and family tradition.
But notice what happened to Lot after he and Abraham separated. Abraham had to rescue him in Gen 14 and had to intercede for him in Gen 18 and yet Lot still lost it all in Gen 19. Abraham should have left Lot in Ur when Abraham left his country. Abraham brought him along to Canaan but he couldn’t fix him.
When God commands you to obey, do so and do so fully, even though it may be hard on you and your family. I would never be here today if I had stayed back in banking for my family or out of fear of my family.
Second Episode – Gen 21:9-14 – the occasion of separating Ishmael from his family. Abraham did not want to send Ishmael away. He was born because of Sarah’s insistence that he lie with Hagar to fulfill God’s promise of a seed. He should have never listened to her. And now she was telling him what to do again!! Yet this time God told him that she was right. That’s a double-whammy. He had to deal with his own grief, on the one hand, and hearken to his wife, on the other.
Another difficulty with obedience is that it may be a grief to you [Gen 21:11, 17:18]. Obedience can be tough. Nevertheless, in spite of his grief and opposition to Sarah he obeyed God. And obedience is the key.
Third Episode – Gen 22:1-5 – the offering of Isaac for a burnt sacrifice. The Bible doesn’t say that Sarah knew about the offering but if she didn’t know beforehand she was certainly going to know afterwards. So, it is not unlikely that she knew. And like Mary, the mother of Jesus, the sword would pierce through her own soul also [Lk 2:35]. Therefore, the decision to sacrifice Isaac would have been a hard, grievous decision.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty with obedience is that it may be a grief to your wife. Many a man has balked at obeying God because of his wife’s grief [consider Adam and Eve]. It never goes will when you disobey God to assuage your wife’s grief. Do you think that Sapphira had anything to do with Ananias’ decision to lie to God and keep back part of the price? In spite of whatever protest Sarah made or was going to make about the sacrifice of her son, Abraham obeyed.
And notice Abraham’s growth in faith through the first two episodes. He didn’t obey partially as with Lot and he didn’t obey hesitantly as with Ishmael. He obeyed fully and immediately [Gen 22:3]. He knew that God would either substitute a ram for Isaac [picturing the substitution of Jesus Christ for us, Jn 8:56] or that God would raise him from the dead [picturing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Heb 11:17-19]. God had promised that of Abraham’s seed he would make a great nation. Abraham believed that and God blessed his obedience [Gen 22:15-18].
Abraham had established a pattern of obedience so that the more he obeyed the easier it became to obey. The more that you obey the easier it will be for you to obey.
Conclusion: If you know that there is something that God has given you to do, obey Him in spite of your family, yourself or your spouse. Do it and do it now.