Among the examples of steadiness and firmness in faith, few parts of the Holy Scripture are as impactful in this respect as the story of Abraham. The hardship he endured and the challenges he faced were colossal by any standard, yet his stalwart faith in God never wavered even in the face of the most dreadful prospects. The core of this faith was Abraham’s obedience to God – total, unconditional, and undemanding yet fully conscious and willingly.
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Abraham did not obey merely because he lacked the imagination to conceive another course of action. On the contrary, Abraham’s faith rested on the adamant conviction that the Lord was both powerful and benevolent, and His will inevitably led to the best outcome. This faith in benevolence and omnipotence – and, moreover, the unity of faith and action – is what signifies Abraham’s righteousness as a firm and obedient believer.
Obedience may well be Abraham’s defining trait, and following the instructions of the Lord unwaveringly is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Isaac’s father. Yet obedience may come in different forms, and what makes Abraham’s unwavering dedication to follow the will of God so notable is its foundation. A person of a certain type could do what is told to him because the lack of intellect or imagination would not allow him to even imagine another course of action.
Yet Abraham obeyed God not because he could not fathom another option but because he believed. It was faith, not narrow-mindedness, that guided him: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went” (Hebrews 11:8). This faith did not waver even when the ultimate test came: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 11:17). These verses show that the cause of Abraham’s obedience was not his intellectual inability to disregard instructions but his willing and unlimited faith in the Lord.
The nature of this faith deserves due consideration as well: Abraham followed the Lord’s will not merely because he recognized God’s existence and superiority but because he believed God to be omnipotent. Isaac’s father came as close to almost sacrificing his offspring: he had already “reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:10). Had the angel not stayed his hand, there is no doubt that Abraham would fulfill the Lord’s will – and one reasonable explanation is that he did not believe the outcome to be permanent. In other words, this verse demonstrates that Abraham was ready to go through with the sacrifice because he believed that God could reverse death should He so wish.
This obedience in faith and readiness to sacrifice one’s own child in God’s name also links closely with Abraham’s conviction in the Lord’s benevolence. When promised numerous offspring, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). There was no doubt in Abraham’s mind that whatever God decreed was just and right and that following the Lord’s will would ultimately provide the best outcome. The verse showcases Abraham’s unwavering conviction that God is unequivocally and inexorably good, and His decrees, whether understandable or not at first sight, serve the betterment of His chosen people. This belief that the Lord was not merely omnipotent but also fundamentally benevolent is the second facet of Abraham’s righteousness in obedience.
The third essential component of Abraham’s willingness to follow God was the unity of faith and action. Whenever the Lord decrees His will, Abraham does not merely endorse and internalizes it but sets out immediately to fulfill it to the best of his ability. The Scripture spells it out openly and clearly: “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:21-22).
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Abraham is not passive in his faith – on the contrary, his obedience is active and always transfers to deeds that serve to fulfill the Lord’s will. This is the third facet of Abraham’s righteousness in obedience: his respect to God’s instructions is not limited to his thoughts but transforms the world around him.
As one can see, Abraham’s obedience to God signifies his righteousness in more than one respect. First of all, he obeys the Lord not because he lacks imagination or will to do otherwise but because he willingly and consciously believes, and, thus, subjects himself to God’s will. Secondly, his faith is rooted in the knowledge of God’s omnipotence, which gives him the strength to persist regardless of how unfavorable the appearances are. Apart from that, he never doubts the Lord’s benevolence, and this faith in the righteous intent also fortifies his obedience. Finally, Abraham’s willingness to heed the course defined by God is not passive and translates into actions, meaning that his righteous obedience does not remain a mere declaration and changes the world around him.