Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
How does Abraham go from idolatry to being a believer in the one true God? God speaks to him! This in a nutshell differentiates Abraham’s story from that of his father Tera who was a Babylonian idolater (Joshua 24:2). God is the one who initiates salvation, God is the one who calls Abraham out of pagan darkness into the light of His truth.
God’s redemptive work, like the Creation itself, begins with God speaking.
Yet it is also crucial to note that when God speaks to Abraham, God speaks words to Abraham. God’s work in Abraham’s life did not begin with just a warm and fuzzy feeling, or some vague religious experience. God’s work with Abraham began with speaking words/facts — about God himself, and his plan for Abraham’s salvation.
Abraham’s faith was faith in God’s message, in God’s good news.
Abraham’s faith, then, was not like his father Terah’s blind faith in false gods. Abraham’s faith was faith in God’s message, in God’s good news. It was faith in God’s self-revelation and in God’s plan of redemption through his Christ: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
The same is true of every true believer since. God’s sovereign call initiates the work of grace in our lives, yet God’s call is a call to believe God’s self-revelation and to trust in God’s plan of redemption in Christ.
The fact that God calls and speaks to Abraham is a reminder of the fact that God’s grace is always the initiator with fallen humans. Yet what God speaks to Abraham, calling him to do, reminds us that grace, while free, is demanding. God calls Abraham to go out from his country, his kindred, and his father’s house… and to go to a land God had not yet even specified.
God’s call is a call to believe God’s self-revelation and to trust in God’s plan of redemption in Christ.
This call to “go” of course has its echo in the New Testament. The call to leave family and country and vocation to follow God is exactly how Jesus calls his disciples in the gospels. Then Jesus calls all his disciples to “go” in his name to the nations, in the Great Commission.
Only God has the right to make such a call on anyone; but when Jesus makes this call and shows himself to be God, we are to follow expecting Abraham’s blessing to be ours as well, as his spiritual descendants.