The Family Trek
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1.
In one sense it’s true to say that Abraham went out not knowing where he was going. For Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” He might not have known where on earth he was going. However, he certainly knew he was walking towards heaven, for Hebrews goes on to say, “For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” Hebrews 11:10.
Like Christian in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Abraham was heading for the Celestial City. Abraham wasn’t rushing out to hammer in some wooden stakes in a land grab, you know, like what they did in the Wild West frontier of America. Abraham wasn’t after a handful of dirt. Every human being gets awarded that in the end. In fact all we are is a handful of dirt, and that’s what we’re awarded on our coffin when we die. “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19b. You’ll get a plot of land – six-foot deep!
Abraham was seeking more than dust, more than a piece of real estate. He was seeking much, much more than that. Instead of hammering in stakes he was upping stakes. Abraham was looking for a City not built with hands – the Celestial City. Abraham was looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of his faith. The Jesus who was eventually going to come through his own loins. “Get you out of your country ... to a land that I will show you.” Who spoke these words to Abraham? Was it one of the wooden or stone idols of the land of Ur of the Chaldeans? Ur was full of pagan idols. Ur was apparently the name of a moon goddess. The word “Ur” means brightness or flame. However, One brighter than the moon appeared to Abraham! One brighter than the sun – ten thousand suns!
Stephen in his address before they stoned him says, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran” Acts 7:2-3. The only other place in Scripture where God is called the “God of glory” is in Psalm 29. There David says, “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters.” This is the God who poured out the water jars of heaven upon the face of all the earth in judgment. This is the God who poured out fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the God who appeared to Abraham – to lead him to glory.
Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress had just climbed the hill called Difficulty. Two men came running up to him. One was named Timorous the other Mistrust. They told Christian that they were turning back.
Timorous said, “The farther we go, the more danger we meet with; wherefore we turned, and are going back again.”
Mistrust said: “Just before us lie a couple of lions in the way, whether sleeping or waking we know not; and we could not think, if we came within reach, but they would presently pull us to pieces.”
Then said Christian, “You make me afraid; but whither shall I fly to be safe? If I go back to mine own country, that is prepared for fire and brimstone, and I shall certainly perish there; if I can get to the Celestial City, I am sure to be in safety there: I must venture. To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it; I will go forward.”
Jesus Christ says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” Luke 9:62. O Christian, what are you afraid of? The LORD has given you His Word. And His Word endures forever. He has made you a promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” King David knew this when he wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” The God of Glory appeared to Abraham to bring him into His Celestial City. Abraham trusted that the LORD would lead him there. And now Abraham is with the LORD in Glory – even the Celestial City. And so are all who trust in the God of Abraham who manifested Himself in the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the same LORD who says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:29. He is the same LORD who says, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” Matthew 22:32. The same LORD who said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” John 8:56.
So let us begin to tie things together. God called Abraham out of Ur – out of the “flame.” Abraham was to leave his family and all their false gods behind and he was to trust that the God of glory was going take him to a place of glory. Ahead, as we follow the life of Abraham, you’ll see that your journey to the Celestial City is fraught with danger just as it was for Abraham. However, remember we as Christians are all in this together. Like Abraham there will be many obstacles to be overcome. No doubt we’ll make many mistakes along the way but trust in the LORD always. You can’t go back. There’s nothing there – nothing but death! The LORD, after many had turned from following Him, said to those who remained, “‘Do you also want to go away?’ Then Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6: 67-68.
It’s nice to know who you are and where you come from. But don’t spend your life looking at church records. Don’t spend your life walking around graveyards looking at headstones. For that is to go barking up the wrong tree. All you’ll find are a bunch of dead relatives. As the angels said to the women the day Jesus was resurrected, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” If you trace your family tree back far enough and you’ll come to Adam. And Scripture says that we are all dead in Adam. But those who are grafted into Christ’s Family Tree shall live with Him in glory forever! For Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though He may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Luke 11:25-26.
It was through the loins of Abraham that Christ in His humanity came. From Adam, Seth, Shem, Abraham all the way down to Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you like to belong to that Family Tree? We’ll according to Scripture we are grafted into Abraham’s Family Tree through believing in Christ! Think about it, instead of looking through old church archives for your rellies, you can just crack open the Bible and see them listed in its pages! However, you won’t see your name written there. You’ll just have to take it on faith. For Jesus has the record of His Family Tree all the way back to Adam through Abraham. And this Book is called “The Lamb’s Book of Life.”
So instead of skulking around graveyards with big magnifying glasses looking at moss-covered headstones, you need to come to Jesus. You need to ask Him if you are one of Abraham’s offspring. But before you do, keep in mind what the Scriptures say, “Know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” Galatians 3:7. As the Scripture says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. You must believe, for that’s what faith is, belief, and that’s what Abraham had.
Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50. God has honored Abraham by listing his name in redemptive history as the “Father of the Faithful.”
We’ve been reminded that genealogies denote continuity. A Family Tree only tells you where you’ve come from. It is to look back and find all sorts of criminals and skeletons in your closet. God told Abraham to get out from his country and kindred. Therefore, Abraham stopped looking at his Family Tree and went on a Family Trek. So let me ask you where you are. Are you stuck up a Family Tree somewhere, hoping that you’re descended from royalty? Are you hoping that some rich rellie has died and left you a fortune? Or are you turning your back on all of that and going on a Family Trek to the Celestial City? Well, let me remind you that if you are a Christian then fellow believers are your family. We are in this together!
All Christians who are waiting, like Abraham, for that city which "has foundations, whose builder is God” are your family! Let me encourage you by reminding you of the One who is related to us. He is even our blood relative – the blood He shed on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins! They called “His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Luke 1:21. He kept God’s Law perfectly on behalf of all His family. For all men are sinners and fall far short of His glory. He propitiated the wrath of God for the sake of His people. He became our substitute and covered the sins of every Christian with His own blood. And yes, like those in our Family Tree He died. However, the God of Glory raised Jesus from the dead that we might have everlasting life through believing in Him. So, as Christians let’s encourage each other in the LORD along the way.
Yes, it’s good to know where you’ve come from, but it’s even better to know where you’re going!