When Abraham “…was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, (he) obeyed; and went out, NOT KNOWING WHITHER HE WENT.” (Heb. 11:8) We know that Abraham went as far as Haran, where he stayed until his father died. And then, either by remembering the substance of his calling by God, or a renewed revelation from God (God speaking to him…), he pulls up stakes, and moves with this promise in his heart: “…Get thee…unto a land that I WILL SHEW THEE.” (Gen. 12:1) What is the key to Abraham’s life, for he certainly is not walking by sight, but by faith? As a further example, we know that in the progression of things he is even able to believe God to lead his most trusted servant to find a wife for his son…IN A VERY DISTANT LAND, among his own people. What is the key to this man’s, this pilgrim’s, life?
Perhaps it is best in answering this question about the key by speaking first of the reward of his obedient faith. Then we shall go to the practice of his faith, which puts him in a position to receive the reward. After “… (he) departed, as the Lord had spoken to him….,” (Gen. 12;4) we find that, “…the Lord appeared unto Abram, and spoke to him.” (v.7) The great reward of obedient faith is always the revelation of God to the heart, when communion with Christ becomes so precious, the most important thing of all. In John’s gospel, the Lord Jesus said, “…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and WILL MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM.” (Jn. 14:21) It was a godly missionary to China, whose name was Burns, who said that the only thing that distinguished one place from another was the MANIFEST presence of God. And so it was for Abraham, and through the centuries for all believers to this present time…our great reward is Christ, to know Him, to commune with Him.
Central to Abraham being able to obey, and know God, is the fact that he lived by two principles…the tent, and the altar. The tent speaks of mobility, and even as Jesus had “nowhere to lay his head,” so Abraham “…looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” He, like so many others to follow, would confess that he was a stranger and pilgrim on the earth.” (Heb. 11:10,13) The altar speaks of worship. Basic to all else is the remembrance, and the refinement, of his vision of God, resulting in giving to Him His place, position, and the highest praise and adoration of His person. Such a vision would keep Abraham in his place of being the Lord’s servant, dependent upon Him for all, and obedient to His highest authority. As he lived by the tent and the altar, his heart was kept free and full…a very fertile soil for faith.
So, today, let us embrace the concept of the tent, for we ARE pilgrims whether we believe it or not. And let us use well the altar, that approach to God which He has provided in Christ, that we should worship Him in truth, by the Spirit. Then, He will reveal Himself to the heart, and we shall know Him…and commune with Him. What a wonderful and high calling for us all!!