Day 4: Promise to Live By

Day 4: Promise to Live By

Promise to Live By

Read Genesis 12:1-7. For further reflection, read Genesis 17:1-22.

Many of us are familiar with the great threefold promise of God to Abraham found in Genesis 12:1-7. It is the dawn of a new people in which they will be God’s people and that God will be their God. Abraham’s faithfulness is often touted as an example for us today to continue in our own faith in God. Abraham thus becomes an exemplar to us today about what it means to have faith in God. Oftentimes, we are told to be faithful in the same way as Abraham was faithful to God. However, what is often missed out is the “how” portion. In what way was Abraham able to be faithful to God? Was Abraham actually faithful to God, given that he lied about his wife (Gen 12:10ff) or attempted to circumvent God’s promises via Hagar (Gen 16:1ff)?

When God called Abram to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household, he was 75 years old. In our day, it is easy to miss how big a sacrifice this is for Abraham. When we travel to another country today, either for holidays or to move there to live permanently, we have many avenues to research about our destination country. The internet has made it incredibly easy to do so. With Google Maps, we can even see how the streets look like. With social media or online forums, we can communicate with people from the new country. Abram had none of those things. He was called to go to Canaan and leave behind all his earthly securities. He didn’t know how Canaan or its people, culture, or language will be like. Literally the only thing he had to go on was God’s threefold promise and command to go.

God promised to make Abraham the father of many nations. However, Abraham and Sarah continued to be childless until Abraham was about 100 years old. It was only after 25(!) years that God began to fulfill his promises to Abraham. All throughout the years in between, what did Abraham have to cling on to? It is not as if God appeared to Abraham and talked to him daily. All Abraham had was God’s promises to cling on to. We often forget the passage of time when reading quickly through these Genesis accounts. In all those decades, Abraham only had God’s promises to live by. It is small wonder then that Abraham was not perfect. He was human after all.

Even when Abraham finally settled in the land of Canaan, he never belonged there. He was a “foreigner and stranger” among the Canaanites (cf. Gen 23:4). However, despite all that he went through, he clung to God’s promises to him through seemingly impossible odds. He even believed that God is able to raise up Isaac once again when God called him to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22 (cf. Heb 11:19).

So, when we come to the “how” portion of the question on Abraham’s faithfulness, we can see that the answer is his firm conviction and trust in God’s words and promises to him. He had nothing else to live by except by God’s promises to him. And because this is God who promised him, there is nothing else in all of creation that is worth living by (cf. Heb 6:13-19). Abraham lived his life by God’s word and his promises. He had a life that is filled with twists and turns. He was not perfect and sinned against God. Thus, above all else, it is God’s faithfulness to us and to his own promises that we live our lives.

Your life might be going through unexpected twists and turns. You might be going through suffering, or joy, or unwelcomed interruptions in your life, there is only one thing in our lives that we can live by – God’s promise to us. Abraham had God’s word to live by. We have the Word to live by – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” That is what we celebrate at Christmas, that it is ultimately God’s faithfulness to us and not dependent upon our perfect (or lack thereof) faithfulness to God. Let us be glad and rejoice!

  • Praise God for his faithfulness to us and that he helps us to be faithful to his promises found in Christ.