God infuses us with new capacities at specific times and places: our lives become wider apertures for the Spirit. At these times the story of God weaves itself into and through our story, taking on an enhanced and enduring quality.
Abraham is the prototype reflecting the process of what it means to live by faith. Genesis 11:27-22:19 describes a forty year period in his life where his faith walk is defined by successive and progressive altars. At each altar he stops to consider the dynamic ways in which God intersected his life. His destiny was clarified and deepened. He experienced fresh invasions of holy intimacy. Here is a summary of what he discovered and learned:
- The Altar of PROMISE (12:1-7). This is where the Word of God became alive to him personally.
- The Altar of PRAYER (12:8-9). This was the place where he developed personal intimacy with Jehovah.
- The Altar of PERMANENCE (12:10-20; 13:1-4). When his survival was at risk, Abraham trusted his own reasoning and resources. He wandered without wisdom, but returned to be re-established.
- The Altar of POSSESSION (13:14-18). Abraham took action in the physical realm based on what he was assured of in the spiritual arena.
- The Altar of PRIORITIES (14:18-20). Abraham devoted his resources to God.
- The Altar of PERCEPTION (15:1-18). This is the place where he got a deeper understanding of how God works creatively, redemptively, and victoriously in and through dark times.
- The Altar of PRODUCTIVITY (17:1-11). Abraham permits the Spirit to remove the unnecessary and unproductive elements from his life.
- The Altar of PROVISION (22:1-18). He experiences the soul-jarring summons to sacrifice.
There is a provocative summary of Abraham’s faith-dominated life in Hebrews 11:8-19. It states that he was persuaded by, he embraced, and he professed the promises of God. In being persuaded, he was convinced of the authority and ability of the God making the promise. He developed intimacy with his God by embracing them; he is called “a friend of God.” And his profession became the propagation of the promise which is still being fulfilled as he continues to be “the father of many nations.”