Righteous by Belief
Genesis 14:11–16; 15:1–6
Recommended Reading: Romans 4:9–25; Ephesians 2:8–10; Hebrews 11:1–40
“Force of 318 Men Defeats Armies of Four Nations!”
What a headline! Imagine how the 24-hour cable news channels would cover such an event. Embedded reporters, live video, and dazzling graphics—not to mention all kinds of experts analyzing how such a small group of soldiers could defeat forces numbering in the thousands. A year or so later, this story would find its way to the silver screen in the form of an epic film with Hollywood’s brightest stars and biggest directors.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this is just what Abram (Abraham) accomplished. He and his men defeated four kings and their armies and rescued his nephew, Lot. With this unbelievable victory as a backdrop, it seems odd that the Lord would urge Abram not to be afraid (see Genesis 15:1). Why would Abram, a great and successful warrior, not to mention a wealthy and wise man, experience fear?
Simple. He was worried about his legacy. Although God had promised Abram that his offspring would be as numerous as the dust, this aging man was still without an heir. Now, having just endured a life-and-death struggle, the fact of his childlessness weighed more heavily than ever on his mind.
Of course, God knew Abram’s heart and thoughts. He addressed Abram’s concerns by showing him the vast expanse of a clear desert sky studded with stars in every direction. “So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 5:5), God promised Abram.
At that moment, when Abram simply believed God’s promise, his belief was translated into righteousness in God’s eyes. And simple belief is what God was really after. Abram’s wealth, wisdom and might didn’t mean much in the context of God’s grander plan for humanity. But in simply believing, Abram opened his life to God’s control, which God perceived as a righteous act.
Abram was a great man, but he was only a man. He had flaws just as we all do. Scripture records his great deeds. But it doesn’t gloss over his great mistakes. Yet his simple act of childlike faith—taking God at his word—gave Abram the greatest reward any man could desire: a legacy of faith that has inspired billions of people throughout human history.
To Take Away
- What does it mean to “believe” in God?
- What impact might your belief have on the way you live?
- Pray for the kind of faith that takes God at his word, despite seemingly impossible obstacles.