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 message of God came to 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.” In order that God might qualify him for his great work as the keeper of the sacred oracles, Abraham must be separated from the associations of his early life. The influence of kindred and friends would interfere with the training which the Lord purposed to give His servant. Now that Abraham was, in a special sense, connected with heaven, he must dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing from all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and his motives and actions were not comprehended by his idolatrous kindred. PP 126.1
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8. Abraham's unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible. To him, faith was “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 1. Relying upon the divine promise, without the least outward assurance of its fulfillment, he abandoned home and kindred and native land, and went forth, he knew not whither, to follow where God should lead. “By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” Hebrews 11:9, R.V. PP 126.2
It was no light test that was thus brought upon Abraham, no small sacrifice that was required of him. There were strong ties to bind him to his country, his kindred, and his home. But he did not hesitate to obey the call. He had no question to ask concerning the land of promise—whether the soil was fertile and the climate healthful; whether the country afforded agreeable surroundings and would afford opportunities for amassing wealth. God has spoken, and His servant must obey; the happiest place on earth for him was the place where God would have him to be. PP 126.3Read in context »
God selected Abraham as His messenger through whom to communicate light to the world. The word of God came to him, not with the presentation of flattering prospects in this life of large salary, of great appreciation and worldly honor. “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee,” was the divine message to Abraham. The patriarch obeyed, and “went out, not knowing whither he went,” as God's light bearer, to keep His name alive in the earth. He forsook his country, his home, his relatives, and all pleasant associations connected with his early life, to become a pilgrim and a stranger. 4T 523.1
It is frequently more essential than many realize, that early associations should be broken up in order that those who are to speak “in Christ's stead” may stand in a position where God can educate and qualify them for His great work. Kindred and friends often have an influence which God sees will greatly interfere with the instructions He designs to give His servants. Suggestions will be made by those who are not in close connection with heaven that will, if heeded, turn aside from their holy work those who should be light bearers to the world. 4T 523.2
Before God can use him, Abraham must be separated from his former associations, that he may not be controlled by human influence or rely upon human aid. Now that he has become connected with God, this man must henceforth dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing from all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends, for they were idolaters. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned; therefore his motives and his actions were beyond the comprehension of his kindred and friends. 4T 523.3Read in context »
We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God's love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives His blessing.—The Signs of the Times, May 19, 1898. RC 79.6Read in context »
Invitation to Another Country—Dear Brother G: I have had my mind drawn out for you time and again. Had I felt at liberty to exercise my judgment, I should have given my counsel a long time ago for you to change your location. I had hoped my brethren would have had wisdom from above to give counsel to you that you should not be where you are today. If you have anything to do, it must be soon. Were you in this country [Australia], I fully believe you would see doors opening where you could be at work to be a lightbearer to those who are in the darkness of error. TSB 222.1
How would it be should you come to this country? Like Abraham, going out not knowing whither he went, and humbly seeking guidance, I plead that you make a break. Come here to Australia, while we are here. Come on your own responsibility. You will have means, if you sell your farm, to bring you here. Then I believe the way will open for you to work, and may the Lord direct you, is my earnest wish and sincere prayer.... TSB 222.2
There is work in abundance for you to do in the great harvest field. Here are fields all ripe for the harvest, work to be entered upon in Sydney, of about a million people, and Melbourne numbering still more. There is Queensland to be entered. There are thirty Sabbathkeepers in one place in Queensland that have never seen nor heard the living preacher, and others are scattered all through that region, waiting for the message of truth. TSB 222.3Read in context »