Thursday, March 27, 2008

The exercises of faith

Genesis 13.
Lot settles in plentiful Sodom.
Abram, a pilgrim in a barren land.
What do we make of that?

Matthew Henry:

"Lot perhaps had the better land, yet Abram had the better title. Lot had the paradise, such as it was, but Abram had the promise. Lot had lifted up his eyes and beheld the plain of Jordan, and he had gone to enjoy what he saw. God says to Abram "Come, now lift up your eyes, and look, and see your own." That which God has to show us is infinitely better and more desirable than any thing that the world has to offer our view. The prospects of an eye of faith are much more rich and beautiful than those of an eye of sense. Every repetition of the promise is a ratification of it. To you and your seed— to you to sojourn in as a stranger, to your seed to dwell and rule in as proprietors."
Jesus will rule and dwell there with his people. Lot is taking hold of his own eden, in the lush valleys of Sodom, but Abram has God's promises. He's then told to walk the dusty plains of the land God has promised... Why? Henry comments:

"God is willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his covenant, and the inestimable worth of covenant blessings. He walks, confirming his status as a pilgrim."
And John Calvin:

"God commands Abram to travel till he should have examined the whole land. To what purpose shall he do this, except that he may more clearly perceive himself to be a stranger; and that, being exhausted by continual and fruitless disquietude, he may despair of any stable and permanent possession? For how shall he persuade himself that he is lord of that land in which he is scarcely permitted to drink water, although he has with great labor dug the wells? But these are the exercises of faith. For faith is the beholding of absent things, and it has the word as a mirror, in which it may discover the hidden grace of God. It is nevertheless their duty to lay hold on the inheritance which is promised."
This is the inheritance of Jesus, offspring of Abram. This is His awesome inheritance! A land. A people. The promises of his Father! How great are the promises of God that are YES in Jesus! And which come to us as we are found in Abraham's offspring, Jesus! Let us lift our eyes, not to the pleasures of now, but to the vast abundant promises of God that we find in Jesus. Let us lift our eyes, even more than Abram did let us overflow in praise because of Jesus.

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land...
Musing on my habitation...
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see; Lord, I long to be with Thee!