Sunday, January 25, 2009
The faith journey of Abraham has had some incredible twists and turns. Hebrews 11:8-12 describes for us, in a snap shot, the varied highs and lows of how believing the promise of God is truly a journey.
Looking at the various points of his life you soon learn that every step of faith takes a complete act of surrender. It doesn't matter if that step might be later seen as a baby step compared to what you face today. When you were faced with that baby step it required a commitment of all that you could give at the time. For Abraham the call to take his wife, family, his all on the basis of a promise and leave all that he knew of life behind- that required a complete act of faith, and trust, all that he had at the time. Later in his life the command to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, would cause this step of moving to a new land a baby step. Nonetheless, both required complete acts of faith and trust in the promise of God. Both required a complete giving up of self for that moment.
How could Abraham have taken the steps of faith required at every given moment? He grabbed hold of the promise of God and began to press this promise into every area of his life!
When Abraham came to the end of his life, as we read in Genesis 23, 24- He continues to do the same. In sorrow, the death of his wife Sarah, he presses the promise of God into securing a land for burial. Trusting that God will give back to him the burial plot and more, all the surrounding land, he purchases the field for burial.
Abraham growing old, probably pushing 150, with a son now pushing 40 steps out in faith once again, to find his only beloved son a Bride. Abraham sends out his servant with a joyful and burdensome oath- the joy of finding the perfect wife for the Son of promise. The picture that unfolds is an unmistaken allusion of the Father God, sending His Spirit, into the world to find a Bride (the Church), for the Beloved Son, Jesus.
A couple of notes in this same flow: The Testimony of the Servant and the Response of the Bride. The testimony of the servant to the family of Rebekah is a not a testimony about his own faithfulness, or his own gifts, authority or power. The servant, a picture of the Holy Spirit, speaks only of the blessings of the Father, all of the treasure and the beloved Son. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to press in on the Bride the promises of the Father through the Son! Isn't this not the essence of the Gospel being worked out in us?! It is not for us to look inward to see what gifts we might have or not have. What talents we posses or special spiritual words we can conjure up that we tell others are from God, or sensational experiences we can point to as a proof of an extra-ordinary mature spiritual faith. No. This kind of spiritual self nominating actually points more to self-idolatry and spiritual immaturity.
What does spiritual maturity, spiritual teaching, preaching and spiritual growth look like? It is fully Holy Spirit led and therefore presses in only the person and work of Jesus into our lives. The Holy Spirit is Gospel centered, Christ-o-centric in His ministry among the Bride! (John 15:26; John 16:13-15)
The Response of the Bride must then be more then a mental assent. Rebekah couldn't just be in awe of being asked to enter into the Father's blessing through relationship with the Son. She had to actually by faith enter into this promise for herself. She had to leave behind the family she knew and by faith be drawn into relationship with Isaac. This is a surrender of self and a pressing in of the promise into her own life. She shows us how we too must abandon self and press into the promise of God in order to enter into this relationship,enjoy the inheritance of relationship in the Son, Christ.
Looking back over my life I wonder now, like no other time in my life, how has the Spirit of God continued to press the promise of the Gospel into the complete areas of my life? May we allow God to woe us with the Gospel to be the Bride who enjoys a transforming relationship with God!