The Call Of Abraham - Part I
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” —Genesis 12:1
The phrase, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram,” if it is to be noticed, refers to instructions that had been given to the Patriarch sometime previously.
Chapter 12 of Genesis is very important, for it records the first steps of this great believer in the path of faith. There were believers before him (a few), but the Scripture speaks of him as the father of all believers who would come after him (Rom. 4:16).
While Abraham obeyed, it seems that family ties, at first, held him back. Though called to Canaan he, nevertheless, tarried at Haran till nature’s tie was snapped by death, and then, with unimpeded step, he made his way to the place to which “the God of Glory” had called him.
All of this is very full of meaning. The flesh is ever a hindrance to the full power of the call of God. We tend to settle for less than that which God intends.
We are slow to learn that everything we need, and I mean everything, is found totally and completely in Christ. While we are quick to say “Amen” to the words I have just dictated, we are slow to actually come to the place of full surrender. “Self-will” hinders! The “flesh” hinders! However, we make excuses for all of this, by loading the flesh in self-will with religious phraseology.
The Call Of God
Whatever it is that God calls us to do, it is always beyond what we would, at first, see or think. Embodied in the call, is not only a work to be done, but, as well, the ingredients for spiritual growth. With the Holy Spirit, it is always growth. And to be frank, the growth must be brought about or the work cannot be done. And here I would dwell, for a little, on the cross of Christ. There is only one way all of this can be achieved, and that’s by and through the cross. If we do not understand the cross, then we cannot really understand the way of God. In fact, if the cross is removed from Christianity, Christianity then loses its power (I Cor. 1:18), and for all practical purposes, becomes little more than the religions of the world. While it might have a better ethic, it’s an ethic that really cannot be reached without the cross.
The Cross Of Christ
The cross unfolds God as the sinner’s friend. It reveals Christ in that most wondrous character, as the righteous justifier of the most ungodly sinner.
Someone once asked me, “Is it who He is, or what He did, that makes the difference?”
Only Christ could do what needed to be done to redeem fallen humanity; however, even though Christ is God and has always been God, on that premise alone, no one was redeemed. God would have to become man and go to the cross, if man was to be lifted out of his fallen state. So, in the final alternative, even though Who He was presents an absolute necessity, in reality, it was what He did, and we speak of the cross, which guarantees salvation for even the vilest of sinners.
The Introduction Of The Cross
The power of God, with all its wisdom, glory, holiness, and magnitude, but for the cross, works against the sinner.
How precious, therefore, is the cross, in this, its first phase, as the basis of the sinner’s peace, the basis of his worship, and the basis of his eternal relationship with the God who is there so blessedly and so gloriously revealed.
All that He has said, all that He has done, from the very beginning, indicates that the cross was ever uppermost in His heart. And no wonder! His dear and well-beloved Son was to hang there, between Heaven and Earth, the object of all the shame and suffering that men and devils could heap upon Him, shedding His life’s blood, all because He loved to do His Father’s will, and, thereby, redeemed the children of His grace.
The Cross And The World
The same cross which connects me with God has separated me from the world. A dead man is, evidently, done with the world; and to be sure, every true believer died with Christ as it regards His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). Having risen with Christ, we are now connected with God in the power of a new life, even a new nature. Being thus inseparably linked with Christ, we, of necessity, participate in our acceptance with God, and in our rejection by the world. The two things go together.
The former makes us a worshipper and a citizen of Heaven, while the latter makes us a witness and a stranger on Earth. If the cross has come between me and my sins, it has just as readily come between me and the world. In the former case, it puts me into the place of peace with God; in the latter, it puts me into the place of hostility with the world.
The Cross And Separation
The believer cannot profess to enjoy the former of our heading, while rejecting the latter. If one’s ear is opened to hear Christ’s voice within the veil, it should be open also to hear His voice outside the Camp; if one enters into the Atonement, which the cross has accomplished, one should also realize the rejection that it necessarily involves.
It is our happy privilege not only to be done with our sins, but to be done with the world also. All this is involved in the doctrine of the cross. That’s why Paul said:
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14). This means that Paul looked upon the world as a thing which ought to be nailed to the cross.
The phrase, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house,” proclaims the reason that many cannot be used of God. They refuse to separate themselves from certain things in this world and, therefore, unto God.
The following is what the Lord demanded of Abraham and, in effect, demands of us all:
In many ways, living for God is similar to the military. While personally, I’ve never served in the military, still from what I see, there isn’t a lot of difference, or at least it shouldn’t be a lot of difference, in the Army of this nation and the Army of our Lord.
- “Get out of your country”: The true believer “seeks a country,” simply because that which the world offers can never satisfy and, therefore, simply will not do (Heb. 11:14). The things of this world lose their attraction. Money is a means to an end. The old song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through” becomes the song of the redeemed. If one lays up treasures here, one’s heart will be here, and simply because one’s heart is where one’s treasure is.
- “Separate from your kindred”: Now you belong to Christ. You are bought with a price, and a great price at that, and even though you continue to love your family, even love them deeply, Christ, and what He wants and desires, takes precedence over your family and anyone else for that matter. Regrettably, many aren’t willing to do that.
- “From your father’s house”: This refers to whatever future close loved ones have planned for you. As stated, you now belong to Christ. Anything and everything that might be detrimental in your “father’s house” must be laid aside. In effect, you leave everything, and do so for the sake of Christ.
Now, as stated, many simply will not do that. And, as a result, God simply cannot use them. Or else, they quit altogether, which tragically is the course it seems, for many.
- “Unto a land that I will show you”: This refers to the fact that Abraham had no choice in the matter. He was to receive his orders from the Lord, and go where those orders led him.
A Great Nation
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).
The phrase, “And I will make of thee a great nation,” pertains to Israel and all of its people, and for all time. The nation of which God was speaking did not exist at this time. And besides that, Sarah was barren.
And yet, this nation would be totally unlike any nation the world had ever known. Some 400 years later, a wayward prophet would say, and by the Spirit of God, “For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Num. 23:9). This means that Israel would be totally unlike any other nation that had ever existed.
The wayward prophet then said: “He shall pour the water out of His buckets, and His seed shall be in many waters, and His king shall be higher than Agag, and His kingdom shall be exalted” (Num. 24:7).
This article is an excerpt from the book, Abraham by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.