God took Abram outside to help the old man see the promise God made, that he would be the father of a multitude. He told him to count the stars. Look up, Abram, and number the stars! Now in my sometimes-fertile imagination, I see Abram staring at the sky and counting out loud: One, two, three… and this goes on for a long time and when he’s up to maybe 120, God says,
“That’s good…you can stop now, son. But as many as you could count, Abram, and many, many more, that’s how many offspring you will have.”
And Abram sighed with relief and said, “Yes, Lord.”
He heard the Lord and as Walter Brueggemann says, “God’s word was the voice around which his life is organized.”
That’s when it happens. The linchpin verse of faith. His faith and ours. “And he believed the Lord, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” He believed the Lord. He leaned into God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, and put all his trust in God the Lord. John Calvin wrote, “Faith is not a distant view but a warm embrace of Christ.”
Here’s an important question. Did Abram fully understand the promise? No, and that becomes obvious later when he is still waiting for that son and agrees with his wife on a work-around solution. Nonetheless, Abram believed the Lord, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Wait, righteousness? He was considered righteous by God because he just…believed? Come on. Surely Abram must have done something more than just believe. Maybe he prayed for 4 hours to the Lord? No. He memorized the book of Genesis, that hadn’t been written yet? No. He told 15 people about God! No. He went to the altar and sacrificed 100 rams? No. He went one whole day without doing anything wrong! No! If had trusted in any of those things, it would not have been the grace of God but his own works upon which he stood. Faith depends on the grace of God which guarantees the promise. He believed. The word means to consider something dependable, reliable, and then act on that belief. But listen! Action follows belief. It always does. “It (his belief) was counted to him as righteousness.”
Is it the same for you and me? Paul writes, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
How do we become people of faith? Like Abraham, we trust God whom we do know to take care of the things ahead that we do not know. Faith in his future grace glorifies God.
Did you know that the African impala has a vertical leap of over 10 feet and can jump MORE than 30 feet! Yet these amazing creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. How? Because impalas will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Powerful and athletic…but faithless when it comes to the unknown.
Go ahead. Believe in God. Take that leap of faith.