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A Midweek Devotional - Obedience and Promise

Continuing through the Scriptures with Unfolding Grace as our guide, we come to Genesis 10-12. While our devotion today will focus on Genesis 12:1-9, we’ll let Unfolding Grace set the scene:

“How will God fulfill his promise to send the offspring of the woman to crush the head of the Serpent? How will God restore to us the blessing of knowing Him and reflecting His character in a flourishing world? How will He bring grace to the now-scattered nations of the world? He begins by making a promise to one man, Abraham. God promises him land, descendants, and blessing. Through Abraham, the Serpent-crushing descendant will come and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed.”

Wednesday, January 20th

Larger Portion of Scripture - Genesis 10 - 12

Focused Passage for Reflection - Genesis 12:1-9

Reflecting on the Text:

Abram humbles me. How about you? How do you respond when you hear of a wealthy 75-year-old man entrenched in the land of his ancestry, who responds to the call of God to leave it all and travel to an unknown place…simply because the Lord called him? Do you feel the weight of this obedience? It humbles me. How about you?

I want to be that radically obedient. Kind of. But I also know how complacent I can be. Picking up and starting over is daunting for any of us. I want to obey but I would like for the requirements of my obedience to be small…to be attainable. Maybe that is why Abram humbles me.

I can understand obedience when I know the ground rules. I understand following God when I know what it is I am getting myself into. I understand counting the costs, but I want to know ahead of time what those costs will be. But this? “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Abram is given no road map. He is given no destination. He is simply told to leave everything he knows and to go.

Abram humbles me, and I hope he humbles you to. In him, we find a model of devotion to the Lord. In him we find the challenge to be willing to go…wherever the Lord leads…without questioning. Am I willing to mimic this level of radical obedience? Are you? “Abram went as the Lord had told him.” Let him and his obedience be an inspiration for us. But here is the thing…I’m not even sure that Abram’s radical obedience is the main point of this story!

While Abram humbles me, the Lord astounds me! How about you? As radical as Abram’s obedience was, it was rooted in the Lord’s promise. The Lord promised him a new land. The Lord promised to make him a nation, to bless him, and to make his name great. But why would the Lord promise all of this to this man?

We are conditioned to think in terms of Abram’s goodness. We sing songs about Father Abraham. We’ve just gushed about his radical obedience. But where was he right before the Lord called him and promised to bless him? He was living in Haran and his father Terah had just died. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Terah (and likely by extension his family including Abram) served other gods. In other words, Abram was a pagan from a family of pagans. And yet, the Lord chose him to be an object of grace, a recipient of blessing, and the instrument through which He would bless the nations.

I’m astounded by this God who would lavish such blessing on the one who seemingly was His enemy. Sinners aren’t supposed to be treated this way! And yet His grace didn’t stop with Abram. It flowed through to me. Astounding!

This, I believe, is the main point of the story. Our God is a God of grace. In the very beginning, He promised a Redeemer to Adam and Eve. In a world dominated by sin, He kept that promise alive through Noah. Then, in a re-created world still dominated by sin, He continued to advance His promise, both to and through Abram. Yes, Abram’s obedience is humbling and instructive, but God’s promise came first. His promise transformed Abram. Let it transform us! Let us be astounded by the Lord!

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Where might you be hearing (and possibly resisting) the call of God to radically leave behind earthly dependence and follow Him?

  • What holds you back?

  • How might His grace transform your obedience?

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