For the week of October 20, 2007 / 8 Heshvan 5768
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27 - 41:16
The God of Abraham
And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Bereshit / Genesis 15:6; ESV)
The story of Abraham is a story of faith. In him we find a man willing to leave the familiar in order to follow the directives of God. He was willing to spend his senior years in a foreign and potentially hostile environment without any support or encouragement outside his own family, because God told him to.
For Abraham this was not a religious exercise. It was simply life - a life lived not based on tradition, for he had next to no precedent for what he was doing; a life not based on material success, for while he was promised blessing, there was no guarantee of riches or fame; a life not based on comfort and pleasure, for he would live the rest of his days as a nomad; but a life based on keeping in step with the unseen God of the universe.
Abraham's faith in God laid a foundation for all who would come after him, who would be willing to be just like him - free from the supposed control of the expectations of society; free from religious dictates that neither serve God nor truly benefit others, free from a materialistic world view that is blind to the liberating perspective of heaven; and free to fulfill the good pleasure of God, who yearns to reestablish right relationship with his beloved creatures.
And it is this "right relationship with God" that Abraham models for us. Unlike the complex system devised much later on by his own descendents, Abraham demonstrates for us what it takes to truly know God in the way that God desires for us. Abraham's intimate relationship with God was not due to ritualistic activities or good works. It was his trust (The words faith, belief, and trust are all derived the same Hebrew word) that enabled him to know God the way he did.
His faith in God found practical expression in how he lived and the things he did, but it was that simple trust in God that made him the friend of God that he was. It was his trust in God that enabled him to risk everything and venture into the unknown. It was his trust in God that became our model of what true spirituality really is.
It was ten years ago this week, according to the Jewish calendar, that I too ventured into the unknown. The Internet was coming into common use. I found myself with a desire to share the truths of Scripture with those who may not otherwise be exposed to them. So I wrote my first TorahBytes message. It was a message called Being a Blessing based on this same Torah portion. I cannot say that I envisioned myself still doing this ten years later, but I am so grateful to God for his help and encouragement week by week. I am grateful to my wife, who has proofed and critiqued almost every single message. Encouragement has often come through TorahBytes readers and listeners. It has almost become predictable that when I have most doubted that I should continue, that I would receive a meaningful note encouraging me to keep on.
I am not trying to say that my embarking on TorahBytes ten years ago makes me an Abraham. But it is Abraham's example that urges me to respond to God's prompting in my heart and step into the unknown without requiring guaranties of success. It is because of Abraham's example that I can know that God's blessing is more important than anything. Whatever I do, as I trust in God, he will guide me. The outcome I can leave with him.
Just as I didn't know ten years ago all that would transpire until this day, so I don't know what the next ten years will bring. Like Abraham, I don't know how God will direct me hereon in, but I am confident that he will. That's what knowing the God of Abraham is all about.
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