Vicar Matt Doebler
Matins Devotion: March 9, 2023
We are told two important things about Abraham in the opening verse of our Old Testament reading: Abraham is old—and Abraham is rich.
Time is running out for Abraham. He has just buried his wife, Sarah. Her burial plot is the only piece of real estate that he actually owns in this land that, despite being promised to him and his descendants, is still infested with Canaanites. Abraham’s son, Isaac is nearly forty years old at this point and is still unmarried and single. Once again, the great promises of God—the promise to make a great nation through Isaac—the promise to bring blessing to the entire world through Isaac—those great promises seem to be slow in coming.
But Abraham is very rich. How easy it would have been for Abraham to use the great wealth that God had blessed him with in order to help God out. Abraham had a good reputation amongst the local Canaanite peoples. Surely it would be possible to match Isaac up with one of the more influential and powerful Hittite or Amorite or Jebusite families. Maybe even with one of their princesses. By marrying one of these girls, Isaac might even become owner of a large piece of land—perhaps even a local ruler. Surely, there would have been no harm in helping God fulfill his promises. No harm in speeding things along—right?
But Abraham does not lean upon his own understanding or on his own resources. Instead, he sends his servant on a 400 mile journey with an improbable objective. Go, find a wife for Isaac amongst my father’s household. A girl who will agree to leave behind everything she knows to marry a man she’s never met and live in the midst of a strange land.
What emboldened Abraham to send his servant on such a long journey with such a minimal chance of success?
Well, the answer of course is faith. What emboldened Abraham was faith that God would keep his promises. That no matter if God’s timing seemed slow or the likelihood of God’s plan seemed uncertain, Abraham believed that God would bring about everything that he had spoken.
And faith is the same thing that emboldens us who also live as sojourners in a strange and often hostile world. “We walk by faith and not by sight,” as we sang a moment ago. Daily, it seems our faith is tested by what looks to us like the Lord’s slowness, but then we recall his promises and “in his promise,” like Abraham, “we rejoice.” We rejoice to know that even though the awful weight of our sins makes us feel weary and threatens to break us, Christ has promised us a life where no sin will ever again torment the body or corrupt our mind. We rejoice to know that even as we are daily tempted to lean upon our own understanding and trust in our own wisdom, that Christ has promised to give us an inheritance—a life to be lived under Christ—not as slaves—but as sons of our Heavenly Father.
May the promises of Christ strengthen your faith so that you do not settle for the riches of this world—which are perishing, or trust in the wisdom of the world—which is folly, but so that you follow your Lord—who is faithful. May you rely upon his promise to bless you and to keep you ever in his grip.