I am reading through Romans and I started thinking about Romans 4:3 which is also Romans 4:22 and Galatians 3:6.
Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
As it should it got me asking the question “what did Abraham believe?” The simplest answer is God; Abraham believed God. Martin Luther in his commentary on Romans says that “this… must be understood in an absolute and general sense…Abraham was a man who, at all times, was ready to believe God.” In Romans and Galatians Paul is quoting Genesis 15:16 where it says Abraham believed God when God told him he will have a child, but in a much larger sense, Abraham was believing in God to be God.
He was believing that God could be kept to His word and that the things that God said would come to pass would in fact come to pass. Abraham believed God when He told him to leave his land (Gen 12:4). Abraham believed God for a son even though he was old and as good as dead (Rom 4:19). Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if he had to sacrifice him (Heb 11:19). Abraham even believed God when He told him to circumcise himself and his whole household (Gen 17:23). Abraham had faults and failures but his life overall is one that is marked by faith in God.
It is so simple, yet so difficult. Belief is all that is required and it has always been that way. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God” and when we understand that God does not change (Mal 3:6) we can understand that it has always and will always be that way. You might think that Abraham was given righteousness because he followed the Law but no that is not the case as the Law did not come until 430 years later. Maybe it was because Abraham was circumcised but no that was about 10-13 years after Genesis 15. Maybe you might think the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt because they kept the Law and it was due to them to be freed but no the Law was given to them after they believed and crossed the Red Sea. Belief always comes first. At no point has it ever been different. When my wife and I prepared to move to Maine with no money or a place to live it was done because we believed God said go. He provided a place to live for us there but the belief that He was God and good was first.
In his commentary on Galatians for 3:6 Luther says, “To believe in God as Abraham did is to be right with God because faith honors God. Faith says to God: “I believe what you say.”” God wants you right with Him and He has done everything for you to be right with Him. He gave His Son as the penalty for sin so you could enjoy everlasting life, and He raised His Son so that you might live an abundant life. For me I sometimes think “yeah but what if it doesn’t work out?” and to be honest sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe not the way I think maybe not at all. Sometimes bad stuff still happens but you can either dwell in the possibility of the negative or have faith in God that He is God. When you decide to have faith in God it should not be for a thing but in that He is God and He is good. Your faith should be in God not in the benefits of His being God. My daughter does not trust me because I provide things for her although I do. Instead, she trusts me because she knows I have her best interest at heart and I am good (at least in her eyes). Her faith in me is not predicated on the possibility of things, and our faith in God should not be predicated on the possibility of material blessing. We believe because He is God.
When you read the Old Testament you can see that a lot of them did not have a firm grasp on the idea of an afterlife. For most it was not a common idea as it was still being revealed. However, in spite of not having an idea that they could live forever with God they worshiped, obeyed, and served Him because if this life was all they had then He should be trusted in it. How much more should we worship, obey, and serve knowing we will live with Him forever. The joy of receiving Him is the most blessed thing we could ever have, everything else is a bonus.
That is not to say however that we should not believe God for everything. As mentioned Abraham believed God for all those things but it started with faith in God. In believing God to be good and in believing Him to provide we honor Him. We honor God when we believe that He can make a way where this is no way to see. When we place our faith in God to do the impossible we exalt Him above the world, above logic, and above us. When we believe God He pleased.
Just a thought,