Abraham and Sarah
Chuck and Sharon W. Betters
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:8).
Because of a devastating fire that had swept through the area, our first visit to Yellowstone National Park was tarnished by the image of miles of great lodge-pole pine trees reduced to giant, charred toothpicks. Elsewhere in the park, fires still raged unchecked because the ecologists had determined that this destruction would actually help to renew the forest. Unless fire periodically destroys the tall trees, the smaller saplings do not get the necessary sunshine and so die out. It also takes fire to break open the hard shells that encase these pine seeds. Without fire, the old trees would simply die off without leaving any young plants to grow up and take their place in the forest.
On our second visit to the park, which occurred about five years later, the “before and after” effect was striking. The once charred and blackened forest now teemed with new life. Miniature lush green pines pushed up through the underbrush, pushing aside the old logs and burnt branches. The fields were filled with wildflowers, their brilliant colors drawing a vast array of birds, butterflies, and bees. Herds of bison and elk roamed the green and flower-filled meadows, now abundant with the food these animals needed. The fire had truly done its work; it had renewed the land.
The stories of Abel, Enoch, and Noah noted in the first few verses of Hebrews 11 are rich examples of perseverance. Yet they can leave us feeling unsuited for God’s purposes. Except for the passage describing Noah’s drunkenness and disgrace (Genesis 9:18–29), the biblical record does not say anything about their weaknesses and failures. One might mistakenly conclude these men were somehow holy and unique, men for whom living by faith came much more easily than it does for the rest of us.
As though he had anticipated this possibility, the writer of Hebrews next turns to Abraham and Sarah. The life journey of these two people, in contrast to the other individuals we have considered thus far, is told in great detail, and the faults and sins of these two individuals are in full view. Their story, too, is a record of God’s grace, but here that grace is repeatedly applied—like fire—to clearly flawed, self-centered human hearts. This is the story of a man and woman who struggled, who sinned, and yet, in spite of their many failures, who persevered. In Abraham and Sarah, God’s divine blaze, with precision but also with pain, cleared the way for a brighter, clearer, stronger faith. In this way, God unshackled them from their love for this world and set them free to seek the city of God. (Adapted from Treasures of Faith pages 82-83)
Why is it important for us to dig into the story of Abraham and Sarah? As we will see, God made priceless promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1–4). In Galatians, we read:
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
All the promises God made to Abraham are ours as well when we know Jesus as Savior. As the dangerous riptides of life pull me out into a sea of unknowns, these Scriptures hold my head above water. Embracing these promises as my own transforms my worldview and helps equip me to walk by faith. I pray the story of Abraham and Sarah gives you a glimpse into the precious covenantal promises that are yours as well.
Treasured by Him,
Oh, Father, thank you for the stories of men and women who teach us so much about You and about our own life journeys.
I hope these devotionals will whet your appetite and encourage you to dig deep into Hebrews 11 on your own. They are adapted with permission from P&R Publishing. P&R is offering Treasures of Faith for $3.00 each! And the Leader’s Guide for $2.00. Supplies are limited.
More free resources for help hope & healing:
In His Grip is the preaching and teaching ministry of Dr. Chuck F. Betters from almost fifty years in church ministry. This month’s featured series is: Do You Know Your Spiritual Birthline? with Dr. Chuck Betters
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness, and co-author with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace. She is the co-host of the Help & Hope podcast and writes Daily Treasure, an online devotional.
For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.
Originally published Sunday, 04 June 2023.