Many great men of God stand out to us as we read the Bible. There was Moses, the great lawgiver who received the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. There was Joshua, the powerful military leader who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. There was David, who was the greatest king Israel had ever known. Elijah was one of the great prophets. Peter and Paul were mightily used of God. Yet all of these looked to Abraham as a man of faith.
So what lessons can we learn from this man who was called God's friend? When we are first introduced to Abraham, God has told him, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1 NKJV). Abraham was raised in a pagan culture that believed in many gods. God knew that for Abraham to stay in his country with his family would be detrimental to his spiritual growth. In fact, his family and friends would not help, but hinder, him.
Jesus said to the man who wanted to delay following Him because of his family, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NKJV). In the same way, God was essentially saying to Abraham, "You have to make a clean break. You have to leave now if you are going to move forward spiritually."
The timing of Abraham's call by God was significant. It occurred shortly after the destruction of Babylon and the dispersion of the nations. Humanity had done his best, and God brought its plans for the future to nothing.
Yet God's plan for Abraham was, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2 NKJV). The Lord's commands are rarely accompanied by reasons, but they are always accompanied by promises.
There are times when God will speak to you and tell you to do or not do something, and it may not make complete sense at the moment. When the Lord initially told Noah to build the ark, it didn't make sense at the time. But it made perfect sense later. And when the Lord told Abraham to leave his family and country, it didn't make sense at the moment. But later he would understand the plan and purpose of God.
The Lord was essentially asking Abraham to trade in one thing, and in its place, he would give him something else. But God's trade-in deals are not the same as what we would expect from our local car dealer. Rather, it would be like approaching a Ferrari dealer, wanting to trade in your Pinto with 200,000 miles on it. As you're admiring the red convertible, the dealer says, "Take it — straight trade." That is a good deal.
God was saying, "Abraham, you leave these things for Me, and I will give these things to you. It is a straight trade, but you must keep up your end of the deal." Yet many times we don't want to do that. God tells us to turn our back on sin and to turn away from people who could drag us down spiritually. And if we do, He will bless us.
Unfortunately this is not what Abraham did. He sort of obeyed, but not completely. God told Him to leave his country, separate himself from his relatives, and go to a land that God would show him. Abraham did leave his country, but he did not separate himself from his family. Nor did he go where God told him to go.
We read that he took along his father Terah and his nephew Lot. The name Terah means "delay" and it was a delay for Abraham. Bringing Terah along resulted in a delay of at least five years in a place called Haran, which means "parched." Until Abraham obeyed God in what he previously had been told, we read of no further command from God.
Has God told you to do something? Have you been dragging your feet? Have you been partially obeying? Partial obedience is actually disobedience. God is a stickler for details, and if He tells you to do something, then you need to do all of it-not just what you personally agree with or are comfortable with.
We need to do God's will in God's way and in God's time.
I love to tell stories—but I especially love to tell stories that point to Jesus. That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book about acting legend Steve McQueen. Steve was the King of Cool, but at the end of his life, he encountered the King of Kings. As a result, an American icon became a child of God. This book is our thank-you gift for your donation to Harvest Ministries today.