Those who wait for God are pilgrim souls that have no tie that will hold them when the definite command is issued; no prejudices that will paralyze their effort when in some strange coming of the light they are commanded to take a pathway entirely different to that which was theirs before; having no interests either temporal or eternal, either material or mental or spiritual, that will conflict with the will of God when that will is made known – G. Campbell Morgan.
In Studying the story of Abraham deeper, this quote describes his disposition as he sojourned through life. A few things strike me as unique characteristics that culminated in God crediting him as righteous despite the mistakes he made along the way. “And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith”, Genesis 15:16. It was credited to him as righteous because he believed God at his word. God made him promises and he simply believed and obeyed. He took up the mantle for him and his family to pick up and head for a land God would show him, Canaan, the promised land. He was also promised a son in his old age, Isaac. And though the promises tarried, he still believed.
If you look all the way back to the story of Noah after the ark, you see that the Canaanites were descendants of Ham, Noah’s second-born son, who exposed his father’s nakedness thus bringing a curse upon himself from his father Noah that he would be a slave to his two brothers, Shem and Japheth. “24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
Canaan, the promised land, belonged to Ham’s descendants who had been cursed to serve their brothers Shem and Japheth. “[God] does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth [generation]. (Exodus 34:7b)” This is called generational accountability. I must point out though that God only does that if the next generation does not learn from the mistakes of the previous generations and thus repeats them. But I’ve expounded more on that principle in a separate blog that I will post tomorrow.
Back to Abraham. Between Noah’s generation and his, there had been ten generations and over 400 years gone by. Was Abraham the first to receive the call to go to a land that God will show him, unbeknownst to him at the time, that of Canaan? Not quite. And we know this because his father Terah had set out for Canaan too, but settled in Haran and died there (Gen 11:31). Abraham answered God’s call to head for Canaan and he got there. Dear Reader, when Jesus told us that God is always at his work to this very day, and that he too is working (John 5:17), scenarios like this depict exactly what he meant. God sends people to places to do his kingdom advancement work; not all the people go, prompting him to call yet another, and another, and another, sometimes waiting for generations, until one earnestly picks up the mantle and completes the task. God is patient and longsuffering with us. He patiently moves us to where he needs us to be for a task at hand, for such a time as this.
My prayer is to be one that doesn’t resist God, one that doesn’t run ahead of him or lag way behind. I pray to be in tune with him every step of the way. Of all the parts and all the people he needs to move around to accomplish his will, I pray to be found the most yielded. I have no plans that I find worthwhile to take precedence outside of his will for me. I understand that I am not my own, that I have been bought at a price, that I belong to him, that this world is not my home, I am just passing through, and heaven is my home, that better is one day in his courts than a thousand elsewhere, that I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10). I pray to have the same attitude as Abraham as I sojourn through life, fully surrendered to my father so he can position me wherever he choses and have me do his will without much ado.
Circling back to the hermeneutics of the text, we see that Abraham’s journey was fraught with mishaps. He lied twice about his wife Sarah being his sister to gain favor, first with the Egyptian Pharaoh in Genesis 12, and then again with Abimelech, King of Gerar in Genesis 20. God had promised him and Sarah a son, but he listened to her and had one with Hagar, her maiden servant. They then waited 25 years for their promise until God finally gave them their son of promise, Isaac.
By this time, having waited 25 years for his promise, Abraham had learnt God’s faithfulness. God had protected him and his wife Sarah, no matter what. God had given him the son he had promised him. God had made him prosperous in every way just as he had promised. So when God told him to sacrifice Isaac back to him, Abraham, without telling Sarah, acted on it the very next morning, taking the unsuspecting young lad up to the mountain to honor God and do the deed. Fortunately he did not have to go through with it because God provided a ram which he sacrificed instead.
Why did he not hesitate? Because he had learnt obedience on his journey of faith while waiting on the Lord. The bible puts it thus in the Hebrew Hall of Faith, verse 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
Back to application, we learn obedience through waiting, and it takes faith to wait. This is what builds our faith, waiting on God. There is so much to be gained when we agree to abandon our way for his way, and choose to undergo the process. James 1:2-4 says to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It took me over a year to understand that the way we get promoted in the kingdom is by persevering in trials, thus becoming overcomers.
2 Peter 1:5-9 “5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, love. We are to add all these qualities to our faith in increasing measure so we can be productive and effective in God’s kingdom. Resolve to wait upon the Lord for all the promises he has for you, all the good plans he has for you. Psalms 27:14 – Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.