Abraham was neither Christian nor Jew. As far as we know, he didn’t have any history with God at all. But one day he was commanded by God, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). So Abraham packed up and left!
We all venerate Abraham as our forefather in the faith, but his story is actually sort of strange. Here’s a man who had everything—wealth and heritage, a wonderful wife, and plenty of cattle and land. Yet, incredibly, when a voice told him, “Get up and leave,” he heeded it. He willingly separated himself from everything he knew, even good things, to follow God.
Now, let me ask those of you who are married: Would you think it strange if your spouse said a voice had told him to give up his job, his home and possessions, and move his family to another state with no promise of support or income? Even if he thought he had heard from God? Maybe you would be willing to go—but wouldn’t you be tempted to call a psychiatrist first?
What compelled Abraham to do this? What empowered such clear separation? A look at Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 provides some insight. Stephen was clearly set apart for God’s purposes, working miracles and wonders in Christ’s name in the early Church. Yet this got him into trouble with the religious leaders. As he stood before them on trial, he preached, “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia” (Acts 7:2).
Stephen was saying, in effect, “Are you offended by my faith? Well, it all started when our father Abraham left behind his dependency on the things of this world to follow God. Once he beheld the Lord’s glory, he gladly separated himself from everything he knew!”
Many of you reading this know what Stephen was talking about. When you first encountered Christ, you recognized, “I just tasted something I’ve never tasted before. I’ve never known this kind of joy. I’ve never experienced this awe. I know for sure I’m on holy ground.”