This week we read about the infamous Tower of Babel and Abraham, one of the patriarchs of the faith, a giant in Scripture, a towering example of faith, etc.
In the Tower of Babel, the reason that men wanted to build the tower was pride – make a tower whose top is in the heavens & make a name for ourselves.
1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech…. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
This is a negative example of what men can do when they are united.
A positive example of what happens when men are united is in the book of Acts. When the early believers were together in one accord, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and God added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Act 2:1-4, 46-47
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Now on to Abram. God spoke to Abram and told him to leave his country and family in Haran to a place that God will show him and promise to make him a great nation. God also said that all the families of the earth shall be blessed through him which points towards Jesus who comes from the line of Abram.
1 Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abram left Haran, with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot and their servants and possessions, to go to Canaan when he was 75 years old (take note of this time as a reference of other events in Abram’s life). When Abram reached Canaan, God told him “To your descendants I will give this land.” (Gen 12:7). But Abram’s journey has not ended, he continued on to the mountain east of Bethel and then on towards the south.
In Chapter 13, when Abram and Lot were encamped in a place between Bethel and Ai, the place where they were could not sustain their flocks and herds so they decided to part ways. Abram gave Lot the pick of the land and Lot elected to live in the plain of Jordan as it was well watered and near some cities where the men were exceedingly wicked and sinful. We will see the consequence of this in later chapters.
10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. 12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.
After they parted ways, God spoke to Abram again. God revealed more of his promise – the land will be given to Abram and his descendants forever and his descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth. Notice that God reveals His plans and purposes to us progressively. Here God also told Abram to walk the land for God give the land to Abram – this speaks of claiming the land and taking spiritual possession.
14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants[b] forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
In chapter 15 God reassured Abram that his heir will be a son from his own body and God added that Abram’s descendants shall be as numerous as the stars. Abram believed in the Lord although nothing physically happened at the time, Sarai belly did not suddenly grow with child.
2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Are we able to believe and trust, have faith in God’s word for our lives despite not seeing an immediate change in our circumstances? We read in Gen 1 that God spoke and the world and everything in it came into being.
What is faith?
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
My understanding of this verse is not giving up hope on the things that we are asking/ seeking God for – salvation of a loved one, healing for ourselves or for a loved one, breakthrough over challenging circumstances, etc although we cannot physically see the breakthrough now. Our God made the world and everything in it. The things that we see around us are created by a God invisible to our eyes (unless He chooses to allow us to physically see Him). The complexity of our bodies: the ability of our brain to process information, to rationalise, the ability of our body to function without our conscious thought (to digest water and food, to breath continuously, etc) and also to function according to conscious thought (walk, cook, read, work, etc). Also when I see the various species of animals, birds, plants, insects, etc it blows my mind. There must have been a Creator God who made it all, it would be impossible for it to come by accidentally, in a big bang.
Stop for a moment and read through Hebrews 11. What common theme did you notice? Everyone mentioned in this chapter acted by faith on the word of God, they obeyed God, their faith in God’s word compelled them to act, some even accepted tribulations for their faith.
Heb 11:13-16, 32-38
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Reading the verses above tells me that living in faith do not mean that God will give us a perfect life, free from challenges, but it’s living a life with eyes that see beyond the natural towards a heavenly hope.
Till next week!