What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.”
Have you ever stopped and thought about how faith is shaped within a family? What’s the story of faith – or lack of faith – in your family and in the community that helped raise you? You’re here today so, more importantly, what story of faith are you living? What are your children and coworkers learning by listening to you and watching your day-to-day life?
Up to this point, we’ve been studying the life and faithfulness of Abraham, but today’s verses serve as a transition into the next generation of God’s covenant with Abraham’s family – through Isaac. Abraham was not a perfect man, but he was a man of great faith. Without arguing or pleading, he willingly answered God’s request to sacrifice his only son and he willingly left his homeland for an unknown destination.
Hebrews 11:8-10 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
We’ve learned about Abraham’s faith, but over the next few weeks, we’ll also see how Isaac and Jacob displayed their faith. Each of these men is individually commended for their faith in Hebrews 11.
I have to think that the sons learned from their fathers. I imagine a young Isaac living in a tent, asking his father why they ever left to start such a strange journey. The simple summary of Abraham’s answer must have been something like – God said to go, and I obeyed. I imagine that same young Isaac hearing (likely remembering, yikes! since he was old enough to talk during the account in Genesis 22) the story of how his father took him to offer as a sacrifice, wondering why his father ever considered such brutality. Again, the summary would boil down to – God said to do it, and I obeyed. You were spared because “the Lord provides” (Genesis 22:14).
Don’t you think those life experiences helped shape and refine Isaac’s faith? I certainly do. Each faithful (but imperfect) man helped shape the ones who followed.
In many ways, faith can be generational. We can’t guarantee the salvation of our children or grandchildren, but we can be intentional about living faithful lives. And, in doing that, our faith is seen and experienced, creating a legacy that will outlast our earthly bodies.
The lyrics from an early 90s Steve Green praise song describe this so well:
“O may all who come behind us
Find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way.
May the footprints that we leave,
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.”
I pray we will be bold enough to have lives built on faith because, in so doing, we glorify God while on earth and leave legacies of faith that continue to lead people toward Jesus even after we are gone.
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