Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Choices Part 4


By Rayola Kelley

      Choices will always end in separation. Sometimes separation is forced but in many cases for the one who walks by faith, it is the only choice that is feasible. Although options are presented, the person of faith automatically treads where separation becomes the obvious way. We see that Abel was separated from his brother due to his right choice, and in that separation a witness was established. In the case of Enoch, he was separated unto God due to his walk, leaving a witness behind, and Noah was separated from his generation due to his righteous witness.

      Many people, including Christians, fail to realize that all saints of God are on a road least traveled by the world. The Bible refers to it as a hard, straight path (Matthew 7:13-14). Granted, there is evidence that it has been traveled, but only by a few who have dared face the unknown as to the terrain, the dangers, and the challenges the course might bring, and it is for this reason many Christians are considered adventurers. They must fear what they will miss in the end more than what they do not know. In fact, it is that element of the mysterious that stirs them up the most to discover what great revelations exist on the other side of the mountain, what treasures are hidden in the canyons, and what battles can be won in the valleys of drudgery  After all, they recognize some important facts.

      The first fact is that they walk by faith towards the invisible in order to experience the sovereign providence of what can be in light of that which is excellent, heavenly, and eternal. The second fact is that they are to walk as their Lord and Savior walked (1 John 2:6). He chose the path of the cross. He became a servant and went humbly by way of Gethsemane in preparation to become broken bread and spilled out wine. He then walked the defeating way of Calvary as an example of true submission in the hands and will of God, He was lifted up on a cross as a witness to the whole world, put in a grave to produce expectation in the hopeless heart, and raised up in newness of life to establish a record of victory.

      Jesus as man experienced various separations during his lifetime. He gave up His sovereign rule in order to be fashioned as man. He was separated from heavenly glory as He took on flesh, He was prepared in the shadows of obscurity to emerge for only three years as a light that was buffeted by the winds of darkness and unbelief and the dark forces of the demonic. He was ever being separated in preparation to become the great sacrifice on behalf of us all.

      Choices will cause separation, as well as put up a mirror to others as to the level of their commitment and conviction. The next person we are going to consider is someone who had to face various separations in his life to ensure God’s calling on him and to ensure the promises were brought forth. He would embark on a 1,500-mile journey to reach the place of inheritance and legacy. This man was not perfect, in fact he tripped up a few times, but he would always come back to center and line up to what was eternal.

      I love to study this man’s life because he represents the great walk of faith. If you walk by faith it will often lead you away from the known into the unknown. You will hit the right mark here, but blow it over there and you will struggle in some difficult places, but ultimately you will finish the course because nothing else makes sense. In fact, as the eyes of this world grow dim, the light of the next world becomes more defined and desirable as the eyes of faith become increasingly attuned to the glory of what is to come.

      This man’s name is Abraham. He started out as Abram (a high father) and became Abraham (father of a multitude). Who was Abraham? We know him as the father of the children of Israel, the great patriarch of the Jewish nation, but before he became a father of a great nation, he was a son of Terah and the brother of Nachor, both who served other gods (Joshua 24:2).   

      Imagine that Abraham was part of a culture that was great before the flood, probably marked by former ruins of what was and was from all accounts completely idolatrous, and yet God called him. What made Abraham distinct from those of his family and his generation?

      There is no mention of Abraham having any real encounter with God until Genesis 12:1, which begins with, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” From all implications Abraham, had to have some history with the Lord before He would call him out.

      I learned long ago that God lets us know what we need to know and not what we would always like to know. I would like to know if there was any history between Abraham and God before the actual call. How did He reveal Himself to Abraham to even prepare him for the time and place where He could call him out of his country? I know that for myself, I had a history with the Lord before he called me.   

      The important point is that God called Abraham, Abraham heard, believed, and obeyed. Clearly, these are the steps of a man who had some semblance of faith. This brings us to an important point. God calls us out before He calls us to Himself. Abraham was being called out of his country, from his kindred, and his father’s house into a new land.

      There were three separations that had to take place in just the first verse. First, he was called out of the land to a new land. In his land idolatry was prevalent and it represented physical inheritance, where Abraham would later be entrusted with both a physical and spiritual inheritance.

      I grew up in a cult and in the initial years of my Christianity, there were relatives that were also saved out of the cult, but there came a time the Lord called me unto Himself. One of the things he did was remove me from my familiar surroundings. I loved the place I grew up in and had many memories, but the Lord was doing a new thing in me and if I was going to put my hand to the plow, I could not be like Lot’s wife and longingly look back at my old life. I had to keep my focus forward if I was to make advancements in my new life (Genesis 19:26; Luke 9:62).

      The second separation had to do with Abraham’s kindred, which would represent those he lived among and was familiar with. This would also represent cultural influences. In this case, God wanted to change the influence upon Abraham. In other words, He wanted to establish a new religious culture that would represent His holiness. In order to accomplish this Abraham had to leave behind what he was familiar with so that he could be established in something that would prove to be contrary.

      The problem with familiarity is, when it comes to those who know you the most, is that they are the last ones to recognize your real calling. Jesus had this same problem in his hometown. When He challenged them with the fact that He was the Promised One, the only thing they could see was the “hometown boy” who was the son of Joseph and Mary and who had siblings that lived among them. When Jesus noted that their familiarity was nothing but unbelief, they became enraged and tried to throw the “hometown boy” over a cliff, but He passed through their midst because His time had not yet come. This is where he stated that a prophet is not accepted in his hometown (Luke 4:15-30).

      The third separation occurred with his family. As mentioned, they were idolaters and God would not have a mixture. God clearly had to separate Abraham from any attachment to the family’s idols to ensure there would be no unholy mixtures in the faith God wanted to establish Abraham in.

      As stated, I was saved out of a cult, but not all of the cult was completely out of me until my foundation had been shaken to the point that all false beliefs crumbled so truth could replace and reinforce a right foundation in order to ensure my cornerstone was firmly in place, and my discernment established.  

      We are told that after the death of his brother, Haran, his father, Terah, took his family, which included Abram out of the land of Ur towards the land of Canaan, but stopped at Haran which was located in Mesopotamia (Genesis 11:27-32). Mesopotamia was an entire country that was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was nearly 700 miles long and from 20-250 miles broad extending in a southeasterly direction. Since 1516 it has formed a part of the Turkish empire, and is full of ruins and mounds of ancient cities, some of which are now throwing much light on the Scriptures.

      Needless to say, the land of Canaan was on the other side of the Euphrates River which Abraham would have to cross to secure his spiritual legacy and inheritance. It is interesting to note the original word for “Hebrew,” (Heber) points to meanings such as alliance, companion and fellowship, but it also points to a passing over as in the case of water.

      Terah had to die on the other side of the river before Abraham could proceed, but he would also have to leave his brother, Nahor, behind. In order to become completely separated from any entanglements with the old, Abraham had to cross over from that which represented the old in order to embrace the new. This would require him to leave all familiarity behind in order to embrace what the Lord had in mind for him.

      The fact that all familiarity was missing pointed to the fact that Abraham was vulnerable. I learned that vulnerability is necessary to change the bent of a person’s thinking and character. I especially learned this lesson in bootcamp. All civilian entanglements are left behind as you are flung into a new world that requires a whole new way of thinking and set of rules. Without the familiarity, you must become dependent on those who will guide, instruct, and lead you. God was bringing Abraham to a place where his dependency would be on Him.

      To some this may seem foreign, but it is not. God talks about separations happening between families because they are going different directions, following different gods, and adhering to different callings. These separations can prove to be heart wrenching. In some cases, it is like ripping and tearing in relationships while in others it requires cutting and pulling, but nevertheless every separation is necessary. God never writes something new on what has been established by the old. It all must be made new for the new life to spring forth. That is why under a new covenant, a new heart and spirit was promised. Both would be necessary to bring forth a new creation (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Matthew 9:15-17; 10:34-39; 2 Corinthians 5:17).   

      The next separation that took place for the great patriarch was Abraham had to separate from his nephew, Lot. Lot was the son of Abraham’s brother Haran who died in the land of Ur (Genesis 13). No doubt Abraham served as a father to Lot, but the inheritance God would be entrusting to Abraham could not be shared with any other person but his true heir. Abraham gave Lot the choice as to what land he desired, the land on his left side or right side. We know that Lot chose the watery plains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

      The first thing we must recognize is that the Lord separates us from that which cannot share in our inheritance. Clearly, we can see that Abraham trusted God with the results. The world clearly offers that which is enticing, but God offers that which He has prepared. Lot’s choice was a matter of the flesh without realizing that all earthly inheritance is doomed and temporary.

      As Christians our inheritance is Christ and we each come to Christ on an individual basis. My life in Christ can’t be shared or given to another. Everyone must seek out their own personal calling and inheritance when it comes to their life in Christ.  

      Abraham appeared to get the raw end of the deal, but what Abraham understood is that God would be the One who brought forth his real inheritance. God uses that which is barren and useless to bless and bring forth an abundant fruit. When all is said and done, all will know it is God’s doing.

      I don’t know about you but my soul was a barren wilderness, but when I came to Christ, the seed of His life was put within my spirit to produce incredible fruit within my soul. It is my heart to share that blessed fruit with others so they likewise can find their personal inheritance in Christ.

      For Abraham, he was instructed after the separation with Lot to walk through the land to establish his inheritance (Genesis 13:17). We must walk out our faith to establish the fullness of our inheritance (2 Corinthians 5:7). It is our faith that secures greater promises of God that produce an abundance of fruit in His kingdom (Hebrews 6:12).

      Once there is a separation from, there can be a separation to. In Genesis 14, Abraham learns his nephew, Lot, was taken by kings who enslaved the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The world may look great but the goal of it is to enslave you. Lot learned the bitterness of that reality, but Abraham came after him and pushed back the enemy. It was during this time that Abraham was referred to as a Hebrew, the one who crossed over (Genesis 14:13).

      Remember, Abraham did not start out as a Hebrew; rather, in our day he would have been considered a Gentile, but he is the beginning of a great nation. God set him apart for the sole purpose of establishing a nation in which to bring forth the Messiah. He made covenants with Abraham and his descendants to ensure His many promises would be brought forth.

      We all start out as foreigners and enemies of God, but in Christ by faith we are placed in a new family, with a new identity and a glorious inheritance. We are now part of a new creation that belongs to a spiritual, unseen kingdom with excellent positions, titles of authority, and marching orders that have the stamp of heaven on them.

      It was during this time that Abraham met Melchizedek. This High Priest and King of Salem brought forth bread and wine in order to bless Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20). Does the bread and wine remind you of the action of our High Priest of the Melchizedek order, Jesus Christ, who on the night he was betrayed, offered up bread as a representation of His broken body and wine as a symbol of His shed blood?  

      We are also told that Abraham paid tithes to this priest. Hebrews 7:9-11 explains the significance of this tithe, “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”

      Abraham was paying tithes forward for the Levitical priesthood who would oversee the covenant of the Law, but it pointed to the fact that one would come forth that would be of the order of the Melchizedek High Priest who was both king and priest. Under the Levitical law the king and priest were of different tribes and the two would never meet in one man; but Jesus, being from the kingly lineage of Judah, was also chosen by God to be priest from the order of the Melchizedek priesthood and He could be King as well as serve as High Priest.

      It is important to note that those of the tribe of Levi were separated to make up a priesthood long before they were conceived. They were in the loins of Abraham, but it would be four centuries later before this priesthood would come forth. This points to how God was bringing forth His plan in an incredible manner. Time is nothing to God in light of eternity. He knows when the environment is right and will insert Himself into time to bring forth a certain event.

      It was clear that Abraham was being separated to ensure God’s plan, but there were events that were separating even his descendants. He was a man of his time that revealed the way of faith to every saint who would dare follow in his footsteps. From his life would emerge shadows that would be cast over generations until they were brought to fruition. This man did not know where he was going, but he had the faith to trust that the Lord would get him there if he simply obeyed what he was told. This man’s steps of faith represent his real legacy, and it is true for all those who dare to choose to follow in his footsteps.