As a young man in an idolatrous community Abraham longed for three things: happiness, peace and rest. He looked up his ancestors and discovered in the journal they had kept that they had these things and greater.
But they didn’t obtain happiness, peace and rest through their own efforts. They had depended on the Almighty. Abraham wanted the same blessings of the heart, and so he “became a priest” like his ancestors before him, relying on the merits of the Only Begotten, as he continued his mortal journey.
God declared Abraham his “friend” and promised him three things: children, land and the right to exercise God’s power under his direction (otherwise know as priesthood).
But these promises given to Abraham were slow in coming to pass. So was happiness, peace and rest. Children? His wife was barren. Land? A desert waste hard to cultivate. God’s power to bless others? It hadn’t helped his domestic troubles— Sarah and Hagar were still at war with each other.
But eventually, over time and through Abraham’s ‘hope in the promises seen afar off’ he did have children—Ishmael from Hagar and six sons by Keturah, fathers of the Arab nation and Isaac, father of the Jewish nation.
And the land God had given him? Won and lost and won again and when his descendants regained the land they found it very fruitful—overflowing with ‘milk and honey’ in fact!
And the power God had given him? Passed down through the generations from one righteous father to another, down and down until it came to John who baptized the Son of God himself. And Jesus, of course, was that power personified.
Through Abraham our Heavenly Father also extends those blessings to us. But we too must often wait and wonder. How do we see the ‘promises afar off’ and hold on to hope in the process? Lets look at what Abraham did.
1 Remember Righteous Heritage Abraham had many ancestors behind him who had depended, as he wished to, upon the merits of the Holy One. They, too, had to wait for blessings in their lives. Adam had to wait 120 years for Seth; Enoch had to patiently build Zion over time; Noah had to spend 120 years building the ark and getting it ready, and had to wait 40 days and nights on the ocean—but God’s promises had been fulfilled in their time.
Like Abraham we have a treasure-trove of witnesses to learn from in the scriptures that tell us, like they told him—God keeps his promises.
2 Worship Abraham set aside time in his daily life to stop and worship the Lord. This was a sacrifice on his part and called for one of the first of his flock. This expenditure of time and (potential) income seemed fruitless to the outside observer. Abraham worshipped anyway. It wasn’t until he took the time to worship that he was able to hear the Father’s message to him.
3 Receive Blessings from Keeping Commandments Some of the commandments Abraham was told to keep were unpleasant. But he kept them and his faith was fortified. Commandments in our day, being equally difficult, might be keeping the Sabbath holy or paying a tithe. However the rest and renewal we receive from keeping the Lord’s commandments will strength us even as keeping commandments in his day strengthened Abraham.
4 Ministered to Others When his nephew Lot and his family was kidnaped Abraham armed his servants and went to the rescue. We likely won’t be required to lead a physical rescue party but what about a spiritual, emotional or financial rescue of our family members? Abraham and Lot enjoyed a strong family bond because they looked after each other. Perhaps this bond was at the heart of Lot’s strength in leaving Sodom when the rest of his family wanted to stay.
What About Us?
Today lets take some time to remember our righteous spiritual heritage, to worship, to obey and to minister to others. If doing this seems too overwhelming it shouldn’t. It doesn’t have to be something big.
Lets do something simple today to hold on to hope, even when the promises seem ‘afar off’.
Further Resources about Abraham