Romans 4:1-12 Faith First

First step: Faith

Paul is continuing to bring us down the Romans Road. We are looking at the beginning of the people of Israel and the beginning of faith. Abraham is Paul’s example as he received the promise of this people.

I don’t think Paul could be any clearer here. Abram, whom God named Abraham later, was a regular man in a regular city. He listened to God when He called him out from among the people. He went where he was led. He learned to trust God during his first years. He stumbled into sin in Egypt but God protected him even then.

When God made the first covenant with Abram it was after leaving Egypt and separating from Lob. God reiterated His promised to make him the father of many nations. Abram was skeptical and asked God about his concerns. God provided a sign for Abram and he believed. This was a huge step of faith for Abram. God didn’t provide the specifics of His plan, just the end result. Abram had a choice to trust God or walk away.

Abram originally left Harran on God’s say so and promise. During Abram’s time moving through the land he showed that he honored God by the alters he built along the way. At each of these places he called on God.

I noticed that when he went to Egypt because of the famine he didn’t call on God for that decision or ask permission for the deceit he perpetrated. God looked out for him in spite of those lapses.

When God brought him back, by punishing Pharaoh and having him drive him out, God renewed His promise. He had to go through a few more issues before this happened, including separating from Lot and rescuing him later.

This was the promise where Abram really began to believe. Abram had a relationship with God before that day but it changed during that encounter. Their conversation began with God reiterating His promise to make Abram into a great people. But this time Abram asked “How?” God didn’t go into full detail, like he would several years later, but answered Abram’s biggest roadblock.

All this time Abram had been trusting God to bless him and his “heirs” while also not feeling very connected with that future. God now told him that he had a DIRECT connection to that promise as his own children would be the ones to carry the promise forward. Abraham didn’t know how it would all play out but he believed God at that point.

The sign I mentioned that Abram received from God wasn’t for this part of the promise. He took God at his word concerning his offspring. But he wanted a sign regarding possessing the land. That is when God entered into a blood covenant with Abram to give the land He promised to Abram’s decedents.

God’s confirmation of the covenant with Abram which required circumcision didn’t come for at least 14 years. That is when God asked for a sign from Abram, whom He renamed Abraham at that time.

So Abraham’s faith was built like this:

  1. God called him out and he came. He believed God’s promise.
  2. He sought God along the way but it was at specific times for specific reasons.
  3. He stepped away from God and tried things on his own and got into trouble.
  4. He renewed his relationship with God and went where he was directed.
  5. God renewed His promise and made it more specific. God entered into a blood covenant with Abram and gave him a sign.
  6. Abram grabbed onto it with all his faith.
  7. He let others “help” God with His promise.
  8. God corrected Abram’s course and called for a sign from him, circumcision, and a name change. God gave minute details regarding His original promise.
  9. God honored His promise down to the last detail.

I was always taught that Abram was called out of Ur and took his father and Lot with him and settled in Harran and then had to be called again after Terah died. Not so. Terah moved the group from Ur to Harran and that is where Abram was called from. So once Abram was called he went.

I believe Abram learned about God from his father, Terah, and that is where his relationship sprang from. But Abram had to grow into his own relationship with God. It took time and seeing God’s faithfulness, in spite of Abram’s own unfaithfulness. I can imagine that looking back on his time in Egypt and how God protected and blessed him was an eye opener for him. How could he have missed that neon sign!

What I noticed most was that God gave Abram His word, then He gave him a sign. THEN Abram believed and God entered into a blood covenant with him. Finally God required something from Abram before the promise was realized. God took the first step in each of these instances. Abram only needed to respond.

That is how He works with us. God gave us a promise. We read about it in His word from Genesis all the way through to Revelation. He has given us so many signs as proof of His word. WHEN we believe Him and take Him at His word He enters into a blood covenant with us, through Jesus’ blood. After we begin to walk with Him then he begins to ask us for a sign in return; a change in our behavior. His promise awaits fulfilment in our lives at just the right time. But along the way He cares for us and sends us our own little “neon signs.”

Thank You Father that You always take the first step. From speaking creation into being to calling me home all You ask is that I respond. Thank You that You care for me between the big moments of learning. That even the small things I walk through show me how much You love me. Even in the middle of my sin You have Your hand on me. You draw me back by any means necessary.

Thank You Jesus for being the author of my Salvation. You are the blood covenant by which I am free. I accept that freedom from You and respond by living how You want me to. You know I don’t/won’t always get it right, but You don’t take Your promise back or cut me off. Thank You for bringing my heart back when I wander. I can hardly wait to see You face to face in the completion of Your promise!

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