Following In The Footsteps Of Faith Sermon #17
ABRAHAM GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE
Intro: These verses record th end of a great life! Abraham was taken from
among a pagan people and make the Father of the Faithful. He was taught
the harsh lessons of faith and obedience. He suffered for God and he
enjoyed the best God had to offer. In the end, his life is concluded by the
words "and was gathered to his people."
As I consider the life of this great man, I realize that there are certain
characteristics that were present in his life that need to be found in me as
well this evening. I would like to point out just a few of those characteristics
as we conclude our study of this great man of faith. As we come to the end
of this study and to the end of Abraham's life, I see some similarities with
what could have been said about him and what might be said about us when
we too leave this world. These similarities are made clear by the
characteristics I want to point out this evening. So, while we have this time
to look into the Word of God, let's consider this thought, "Abraham:
Gathered To His People."
When someone dies, three things usually come up at some point during
a discussion of the deceased individual's life. Those three things are: 1.) How they lived their life; 2.) Some of the events surrounding their
death; and 3.) Where did they stand with the Lord. These are the three
characteristics I want to talk about this evening.
I. HOW HE LIVED HIS LIFE
A. It Was A Life Of Faith - One of the clearest and most striking things
about Abraham's life is how he lived everyday and took every step
by faith in God. His faith was not declared by him, but it was
declared years later by the writer of the book of Hebrews - Heb.
11:8. (Note: This is the kind of life that God wants everyone of His
children to live - Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal.
3:11; Heb. 10:38. If the people of God could ever learn to let go of
their lives and leave them in the hands of the Lord, it would
revolutionize our lives and forever end the struggles we have with
worry and fear, Phil. 4:6-7. Faith is not just for the super saint, it is
for all believers. Even you!)
B. It Was A Life Of Following - Heb. 11:9 tells us that the life of
Abraham was one lived in the acts of following. Wherever the Lord
pointed him, that was the direction he took. It would seem that
Abraham had no life of his own, but that his life was one totally given
over to the will of the Lord. (Note: A life spent following the Lord is
a life that will always end up in the right place! Why? Psa. 37:23!
When He leads the destination is assured!)
C. It Was A Life Of Favor - Because Abraham walked in faith and
followed the Lord regardless of where He lead him, God abundantly
blessed the life of this amazing man. He blessed him financially,
militarily, physically, spiritually and He blessed Abraham's family as
well. Of course, this had been the oft repeated promise that
Abraham had been given by the Lord, Gen. 12:2-3; 17:16; 22:17.
God had promised to bless him and God did just that! (Note: I can
guarantee you that a life lived for the Lord is a life that will not lack
blessing! He may not bless you in the ways you want Him too, but
I can guarantee you that He will bless your life in the ways that
matter the most! Ill. Eph. 1:3.)
(Note: It is worthy of noting how the life of Abraham fleshed out the
list of graces that are to characterize those who believe in 2 Peter
1:5-11. He had all of these great attributes in his life and it proved
that a work of grace had ben done in his heart! By the way, we are
to be abounding in these things as well! Why? When we have them
in our lives in abundance, they make us fruitful, v. 8; they give us
assurance of our salvation, v. 9; they help prevent us from
falling, v. 10; they give us a glorious entrance into the kingdom, v. 11.)
II. HOW HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE
(Note: In his life, Abraham was a wonderful example of what a believer
should be, but even in his dying there are precious truths that can be
seen in him that should mark all those who know the Lord Jesus!)
A. He Laid It Down With Readiness - v. 8 - "He gave up the ghost" -
There was not struggling to stay, but a simple releasing of life when
it came time to go. He had lived a full and long life, 175 years, but
when the time came to make the crossing out of this life into the
next, Abraham did so with grace and serenity. Why? Because he
had spent his life looking for a particular city. Not a city that can be
found on this earth, but an everlasting city made by the hands of
God in Heaven, Heb. 11:10. Abraham knew that Sarah was waiting
on him on the other side. He knew that the only way to reach that
city and to be with Sarah again was to give up the ghost. That he
did without fear, fretting of fighting. His deathbed scene was one of
peace! (Note: Everyone in this room has looked beyond the years
to a day when we too will make this crossing. It isn't something we
discuss, but it does come to mind from time to time! I have noted
that the passing years seem to bring the thought around more often.
However, those who know the Lord have a great assurance when
we look at the day of our departure! We have the Lord's promise
concerning that day. For us, it will be a time of laying aside the
temporary for the permanent, 2 Cor .5:1. It will be a time of leaving
the land of the dying to enter the land of the living, John 11:25-26.
It will be a time of passing through the veil to stand in the presence
of the Lord Himself, 2 Cor. 5:8. It will be nothing more that a
"departure", 2 Tim. 4:6, from this life and an entrance into a new
and better life in that same city Abraham looked for. Abraham knew
it before there was even a Bible from which to read it! He knew it by
faith and so do I! How about you?)
B. He Laid It Down With Reassurance - The Bible tells us that he was
"gathered to his people." This does not have reference to the
grave! No, he was buried with Sarah in Canaan. His people had
died in Haran and Ur. Abraham was gathered to those who had died
before him in faith! He went to that place where those died in faith
were waiting for him, Luke 16:23! They were all waiting for another
One Who came into their midst with some glorious news one day!
When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Paradise with the
glorious news that redemption had been purchased for all those who
had died in faith! With that news, He lead them out of Paradise and
into Heaven in a glorious parade of triumph and victory, Eph. 4:8-10;
1 Pet. 3:19! Somehow, Abraham knew this by faith! (Note: you and
I have a better assurance that even Abraham had! He was to go to
Paradise to stay until the price was paid. Neither he, nor anyone
else, knew how long that would be! They were looking forward to
that event. We look backward at that event this evening! It is
finished! The way is opened and all those who died in faith are
immediately gathered home to the presence of the Lord in Heaven!
III. HOW HE LOVED HIS LORD
(Note: A third characteristic of Abraham's life that is worthy of note is
how he loved the Lord.)
A. His Love Was Displayed - All through his life, he simply obeyed
what the Lord told him to do! When the Lord said go, he went.
When the Lord said do, he did. When the Lord said stay, he stayed.
He obeyed even when the command was difficult and costly. He
obeyed when every instinct within him told him to do the opposite.
You see, the true essence of love for the Lord is that genuine love
always manifests itself in obedience to God, regardless of what He
says to do! This was a truth that became crystal clear because of
the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:15; 21. (Note: We
can say anything we wish about the level of our love for Him, but the
ultimate expression of our love for Jesus will be found in how we
obey Him in whatever He tells us to do!)
B. His Love Was Declared - As you read the Bible, you see the love
of Abraham declared. But, it is never declared by Abraham! Isn't
that strange? There are lots of people who want to tell us how much
they love the Lord. Abraham didn't talk about it, he just did it! There
is a big difference! However, the love of Abraham is declared in the
Bible. It is mentioned by a man named Jehoshahat in 2 Chr. 20:7.
God Himself talks of this man Abraham and his love for the Lord in Isa. 41:8. Bother of these references refer to Abraham as being a
"friend" of the Lord. This means "one well beloved by another."
You may wonder how I can make to leap from Abraham being called
a friend of God to his love for the Lord. The answer lies in what
Jesus said in John 15:14 and in John 14:15. Taken together,
those two passages tell us that one who is God's friend in one who
is obedient to the Lord. And, those who walk in obedience are those
who really love Him!
Conc: As you consider these characteristics from the life of Abraham, I
wonder how your life measures up. How is your life being lived? Are you
ready to lay it down the right way when the time comes? Do you really love
the Lord this evening?
These are extremely important questions that need to be addressed in
your life and mine this evening. I don't want to be Abraham, but I do want
to look at those areas in my life that could be changed to line up more
clearly with what God found pleasing in his life. We should all want to glean
the best of Abraham's characteristics and make them true in our own lives