22 Heshvan 5758
November 22, 1997
Abraham was a blessed man. The above statement would seem to support that. He lived a good long life. But that in itself is not the essence of his blessedness.
Abraham had been called by God to leave the familiar surrounds of his ancestral homeland and go to the land of Canaan. The Scriptures contain several interesting happenings in his life, the greatest being the miraculous birth of his son Isaac. But God had promised him more. God told him that he would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2), that all the nations would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3), and that the land of Canaan would belong to his descendants (Genesis 12:7). The birth of Isaac, as wonderful as that was, was merely the means to these ends.
How much of this did Abraham have by the time he died? His clan had grown, but he hadn't yet seen any grandchildren through Isaac. As for the promised land, all he owned was a funeral plot (Genesis 23:17-20).
So he died not seeing God's promises to him fulfilled.
By knowing the history of Israel that follows, it is easy for us to miss what this means. If we were in Abraham's shoes, how would we look back on our lives?
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance (Hebrews 11:13).
The New Covenant writer here sums up for us what it means to live a life of faith. Our purpose on earth is to fulfill our God-given tasks whatever they are. Whether or not they are as dramatic as Abraham's is not the point. What God did through Abraham was of utmost importance to God's bigger plans. Abraham knew there was more to life than his years on earth and was willing to do his part. We need to do the same.
We knew a little girl who, when she was born, was only given a year or two to live. As it turned out she lived six very difficult years. But in that time God used her to bring his love to more people then most of us ever will, living more than ten times her earthly life span. She has left to us a legacy of life, love, and joy for future generations. She too, like Abraham, was gathered to the place of the faithful.
When we understand that there is much more to life than we see right here around us, then we will be free to live this life as God intended us to.