1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. — Genesis 12:1–4 (ESV)
I was 11 years old in the summer of 1996 when my parents took me and my brothers to Wisconsin to visit my mom’s extended family. We drove the long way so we could visit my grandparents in Colorado and also see some of our nation’s landmarks along the way.
It was a disaster.
We all got sick. My brothers and I bickered the whole way, forfeiting the bribe money my parents had tried to use to buy our good behavior. Our van broke down multiple times, once while we were up in the Rocky Mountains. We fell so far behind schedule that we had to drive through the night to make up for it. Thankfully, we eventually made it to Wisconsin and the trip wasn’t a total bust. When we finally left to go home, my dad turned to my mom and said, “Take a good look at your relatives. We aren’t doing this again.”
I can imagine Abram (later renamed Abraham by God) saying something similar to his wife Sarai as they set out for the promised land. And when I think about the ordeal that we went through just for a simple three-week cross-country road trip, it helps me appreciate the significance of what God told him to do.
These days, people move all the time and the magnitude of God’s command to Abraham can be a bit lost on us. Then, it was basically the equivalent of quitting your job, selling whatever possessions wouldn’t fit in your car, and hitting the open road with no destination, job, or home in front of you, all in a land with no hotels, fast food, or rest stops, where running into the wrong group of people could mean certain death. For Abraham, moving was risky and required great faith, humility, and obedience.
"Because he trusted God, Abraham left behind nearly everything he had ever known..."
But God made some incredible promises to Abraham. He promised to give him a family that would become a great nation. He promised to bless him and make his name great, blessing those who blessed him and cursing those who cursed him. And through Abraham, God promised to bless all the families of the earth. Because he trusted God, Abraham left behind nearly everything he had ever known, walking in humble obedience to God’s command.
However, Abraham didn’t ultimately see the complete fulfillment of God’s promise himself. He is among those listed in Hebrews 11 who looked forward in faith to God’s promises coming to fruition in Christ.
In Jesus, we see the fulfillment of everything that God said to Abraham. Jesus left his Father, his kingdom, and all of his majesty, obediently humbling himself to the will of God the Father. Like Abraham, Jesus came to a new land to receive a new family, the Church, giving his own life to pay the ransom price to bring us back to God and make us into a great and holy nation. And in Jesus’ resurrection, triumphing over Satan, sin, and death, the kingdom of God is inaugurated and all of the families of the earth are blessed. He is truly the embodiment of all that was commanded and promised to Abraham.
This Easter, let’s remember the promise that God made to Abraham that is also given to us as the people of God. In Christ, we are raised from death to life, brought into a new kingdom, given a new family, and made into a blessing that extends to every nation, tongue, and tribe. May we too live lives of obedience and faith, walking humbly with our God as he leads us safely home.
Omniscient God, there is none like our Alpha and Omega. Creator of all, you declare the end from the beginning. All our ways are known to you.
We confess, Lord, that in our narrow view, we fail to trust in your plan and calling. There is no reason to doubt, yet when the way forward seems unsure, we find ourselves clinging to anything but our Savior. We doubt, drag our feet, and deny our allegiance to the call of our Good Shepherd.
Forgive us for seeking solace from lesser lords, and give us strength for the days ahead.
Along our journey, affix our eyes upon every promise fulfilled. Remind us, oh God, of the Son’s suffering that secured our adoption. Bury this Gospel story deep in our hearts, galvanizing our devotion and submission.
Grant us faithfulness like Abraham’s. Soften our hearts so that we may embrace whatever direction you send us in, that we may abandon and turn away from all else. And when your plan is to plant us instead of send us, grant us holy contentment to lay roots with a firm conviction. Whether we are called to pick up sword and trowel right where we are or to journey to a distant land, we can be sure of the promises of the Almighty.
Father, you alone give purpose to our wilderness wanderings. We are not left to sojourn alone, but we are called into the kingdom, given a feast, and promised a home. Oh, that we might live this truth, walking in humble obedience, until the end of our days.