Believing God

Believing God

IT IS HEART-RENDING when a couple cannot have a baby. And the older couples get, the harder it becomes. Desperate would-be parents go to all sorts of lengths to try to conceive. In some cases worried friends fear that they are trusting in the impossible: hoping against hope. Centuries ago, Abraham and Sarah faced a similar plight. On several occasions God had promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great multitude of people (for example Genesis 13:14–16, 15:5–6, 17:4–6). But Abraham’s wife Sarah was infertile (Genesis 11:30). Worse still, they both grew old—very old. Abraham was 99 years old, and Sarah was 90 and way past child-bearing age. But once again, God promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son: I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son (Genesis 18:10). This defied any ‘natural’ logic, all the

Galatians

Galatians

DURING HIS FIRST missionary journey the Apostle Paul established a number of congregations of believers in Galatia, which was the First Century name for what is today central Turkey. He visited them again on later journeys (see Acts 13–18). Sadly, the Galatian believers were very soon influenced by Jewish elements who wanted Christians to continue observing the Law of Moses. Paul reminds them of the need to keep to the one true Gospel— Jewish rituals such as circumcision are no longer required. His words still apply: ‘As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:9). But although Jewish practices no longer apply to those who follow Christ, the Jewish promises—God’s covenant with Abraham in particular—are still valid. We are instructed to follow the example of Abraham, the man of

Being Separate

Being Separate

IT IS DIFFICULT TO overestimate the importance of Abraham—the father of the Jews and the Arabs, the spiritual ancestor of all the faithful: ‘If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise’ (Galatians 3:29). We are introduced to Abraham (or Abram, as he was then called) in the early chapters of Genesis: ‘Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”’ (Genesis 12:1). Note that: he was called to leave the heathens among whom he lived in Chaldea, in order to follow God. And he willingly obeyed: ‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going’ (Hebrews 11:8). In time Abraham’s descendants the Israelites settled in Egypt,

Father of the Faithful

Father of the Faithful

WE KNOW VERY LITTLE about his early life, but much about his later life. He is revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians. The Jews trace their ancestry back to Abraham and regard him as their father. We first meet him in Genesis 11:28 as Abram (before his name was changed). He was a rich man living in Ur, a city in modern Iraq. Archaeologists inform us that the inhabitants of Ur were advanced and sophisticated. Abram would be schooled in mathematics and astronomy, and he would have lived in a comfortable brickbuilt house. If he was a merchant he would have possessed his own private army to protect his business interests. His family worshipped the gods of Ur, but Abram and his wife Sarai appear to have been different, worshipping the true God. The Promises In Genesis 12:1 we see God’s call to Abram to leave his life in Ur