“Counted … to him for righteousness”
Today we have read Genesis 22 in which Abraham obeys the Lord by being prepared – without hesitation – to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. The progressive tests of faith which Abraham “passed” resulted in ever greater promises being made to him.
Remember the very first promise God made to him was “I will make of you a great nation” (12:3) and “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed”. They started as families and developed into nations. Abraham lived at a time when they lived for a longer time than now; some family groups would have been extensive.
It was not until Abraham had shown his faith by leaving all behind to travel to an unknown land that God extended his promise to include his “offspring” (12:7). Then, after he has built an altar to the Lord and travelled to Egypt and back gaining wealth and prestige in the process – and had separated from Lot – that the promise is extended to him “forever” and he is told he will have descendants as innumerable as the sand (13:15,16).
Abraham then receives a vision from God in the night, and is now told his descendants will be as innumerable as the stars (signifying, we suggest, spiritual descendants, those who develop “the faith of Abraham” – see Romans 4:16). Genesis 15:6 is the most significant verse, “And he believed the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness”. But of course he had believed him before! However, this is the ultimate, the far reaching, challenge of belief. This is our challenge!
We show our belief, as Abraham did, by what we do – not simply by what we say.
At the age of 99 his name is changed from Abram to Abraham with all the significance of what that means (17:5-8) and, as a result, “an everlasting covenant” is established. Then, the events we read of today happened – almost forty years after God first revealed himself to Abram in Ur.
God sees Abraham as now being ready for the ultimate test of faith. The final promises that are then made are totally far reaching, “your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (22:17,18).
How significant are the words of Jesus, “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Genuine faith enables us to “see”!
How clearly can we see the kingdom? Do the many scriptures which describe it – come alive in our minds? Let us share Abraham’s vision and faith – and be “glad” – then it will be “counted to [us] for righteousness”.
Let us search our hearts – to honestly ‘see’ the progress we have made in our own journey in faith.