Abraham, when he was called - See on Genesis 12:1-4; (note).
Not knowing whither he went - Therefore his obedience was the fullest proof of his faith in God, and his faith was an implicit faith; he obeyed, and went out from his own country, having no prospect of any good or success but what his implicit faith led him to expect from God, as the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In all the preceding cases, and in all that follow, the apostle keeps this maxim fully in view.
By faith Abraham - There is no difficulty in determining that Abraham was influenced by faith in God. The case is even stronger than that of Noah, for it is expressly declared, Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Compare notes, Romans 4:1-5. In the illustrations of the power of faith in this chapter, the apostle appeals to two instances in which it was exhibited by Abraham, “the father of the faithful.” Each of these required confidence in God of extraordinary strength, and each of them demanded a special and honorable mention. The first was that when he left his own country to go to a distant land of strangers (Genesis 15:8-10); the other when he showed his readiness to sacrifice his own son in obedience to the will of God, Hebrews 11:17-19.
When he was called - Genesis 12:1, “Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father‘s house, unto a land that I will show thee.”
Into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed - To Palestine, or the land of Canaan, though that was not indicated at the time.
And he went out, not knowing whither he went - Genesis 12:4. Abraham at that time took with him Sarai, and Lot the son of his brother, and “the souls that they had gotten in Haran.” Terah, the father of Abraham, started on the journey with them, but died in Haran; Genesis 11:31-32. The original call was made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:2-3, but he appears to have induced his father and his nephew to accompany him. At this time he had no children Genesis 11:30, though it seems probable that Lot had; Genesis 12:5. Some, however, understand the expression in Genesis 12:5, “and the souls they had gotten in Haran,” as referring to the servants or domestics that they had in various ways procured, and to the fact that Abraham and Lot gradually drew around them a train of dependents and followers who were disposed to unite with them, and accompany them wherever they went. The Chaldee Paraphrast; understands it of the proselytes which Abraham had made there - “All the souls which he had subdued unto the law.” When it is said that Abraham “went out, not knowing whither he went,” it must be understood as meaning that he was ignorant to what country he would in fact be led. If it be supposed that he had some general intimation of the nature of that country, arid of the direction in which it was situated, yet it must be remembered that the knowledge of geography was then exceedingly imperfect; that this was a distant country; that it lay beyond a pathless desert, and that probably no traveler had ever come from that land to apprize him what it was. All this serves to show what was the strength of the faith of Abraham.
“The sower went forth to sow” (R.V.). In the East the state of affairs was so unsettled, and there was so great danger from violence that the people dwelt chiefly in walled towns, and the husbandmen went forth daily to their labor outside the walls. So Christ, the heavenly Sower, went forth to sow. He left His home of security and peace, left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, left His position upon the throne of the universe. He went forth, a suffering, tempted man; went forth in solitude, to sow in tears, to water with His blood, the seed of life for a world lost. COL 36.1
His servants in like manner must go forth to sow. When called to become a sower of the seed of truth, Abraham was bidden, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee.” Genesis 12:1. “And he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8. So to the apostle Paul, praying in the temple at Jerusalem, came the message from God, “Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 22:21. So those who are called to unite with Christ must leave all, in order to follow Him. Old associations must be broken up, plans of life relinquished, earthly hopes surrendered. In toil and tears, in solitude, and through sacrifice, must the seed be sown. COL 36.2Read in context »
The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant. Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them. They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17. Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince. DA 60.1
As by faith Abraham went forth at the call of God, “not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8); as by faith Israel followed the pillar of cloud to the Promised Land, so did these Gentiles go forth to find the promised Saviour. The Eastern country abounded in precious things, and the magi did not set out empty-handed. It was the custom to offer presents as an act of homage to princes or other personages of rank, and the richest gifts the land afforded were borne as an offering to Him in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. It was necessary to journey by night in order to keep the star in view; but the travelers beguiled the hours by repeating traditional sayings and prophetic utterances concerning the One they sought. At every pause for rest they searched the prophecies; and the conviction deepened that they were divinely guided. While they had the star before them as an outward sign, they had also the inward evidence of the Holy Spirit, which was impressing their hearts, and inspiring them with hope. The journey, though long, was a happy one to them. DA 60.2
They have reached the land of Israel, and are descending the Mount of Olives, with Jerusalem in sight, when, lo, the star that has guided them all the weary way rests above the temple, and after a season fades from their view. With eager steps they press onward, confidently expecting the Messiah's birth to be the joyful burden of every tongue. But their inquiries are in vain. Entering the holy city, they repair to the temple. To their amazement they find none who seem to have a knowledge of the newborn king. Their questions call forth no expressions of joy, but rather of surprise and fear, not unmingled with contempt. DA 60.3Read in context »
Abraham's seed multiplied, and at length Jacob and his sons and their families went down into Egypt. Here they and their descendants sojourned for many years, till at last the Lord called them out, to lead them into the land of Canaan. It was His purpose to make of this nation of slaves a people who would reveal His character to the idolatrous nations of the world. Had they been obedient to His word, they would soon have entered the promised land. But they were disobedient and rebellious, and for forty years they journeyed in the wilderness. Only two of the adults who left Egypt entered Canaan. FE 505.1
It was during the wilderness wandering of the Israelites that God gave them His law. He led them to Sinai, and there, amid scenes of awful grandeur, proclaimed the ten commandments. FE 505.2
We may with profit study the record of the preparation made by the congregation of Israel for the hearing of the law. “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness: and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine.” FE 505.3
Who, then, is to be regarded as the Ruler of the nations?—The Lord God Omnipotent. All kings, all rulers, all nations, are His under His rule and government. FE 505.4Read in context »