Into the Unknown

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.  (Genesis 12:1-8)

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  (Hebrews 11:8-16)
The Bible deliberately sets up Abraham in contrast to the builders of Babel. They wanted to build a city; Abraham was called to leave a city. They wanted to avoid God’s call to scatter into new places; Abraham embraces God’s call to leave his home to find the Promised Land. They wanted to make a great name for themselves, yet they remain anonymous; Abraham was willing to become nothing, yet God we are still talking about him today! Abraham was the founder of the Israelite nation because he lived in deliberate contrast to the sins of the builders of Babel.

Imagine how Abraham must have felt when God called him. He was living in Ur of the Chaldees, the most sophisticated city the world had ever seen. The Lord called him to leave those home comforts behind and to live in a tent in the Promised Land. The Lord could have given him plenty of reassurances about what that new land would look like for him and his descendants, but he didn’t. He called Abraham to trust, not in a plan, but in a person. He asked Abraham to set out into the unknown, trusting in the character of God to lead him every day.

As we start again together in the final weeks of the coronavirus crisis, it will be very tempting for us to run back to the familiar and well-known. This year, so many things have been out of our control that it’s only natural that we want to regain a little bit of control. But let’s be careful. The builders of Babel wanted control, and God frustrated their plans, in the same way that many of us have had our plans frustrated in 2020. Abraham, on the other hand, was willing to surrender control to the Lord. His faith is commended to us in Hebrews 11 as an example for us to follow. God is leading us forward together into new ground, both as individuals and as a church, so let’s respond with the same faith as Abraham. Let’s step into the unknown in faith together, knowing that we can trust God!
1)   This year has been uncomfortable for most of us. As you look at your own life, are there any areas of discomfort that you think God is actually using for good – like Abraham leaving Ur of the Chaldees?

2)   This year it has been very hard to make any plans. How has God been using this to teach you to trust in him as a person, rather than in a plan?

3)   As you gaze ahead into 2021, what is the Promised Land that God wants to give you? How can you step forward in faith, as commended by the writer of Hebrews 11?
Father God, I thank you that you called Abraham out of his comfort zone because you had something better for him. Thank you that you still do the same thing today. Help me to embrace some of the challenges in my life right now, and to step forward in faith into the Promised Land that you have prepared for me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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