By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10, NKJV)

When Abraham was 75 years old, he received a series of fantastic promises, only about half of which came true in his lifetime. In particular, he was told to travel to a land the Lord promised to show him when he got there.

Abraham had no idea where he was going to travel, it could have been just a few miles, or even thousands of miles. He had no idea that after his initial journey from Ur to Haran (over 500 Miles), he would probably travel another 400 to 500 miles just to get to Canaan, another 300 miles to Egypt, and another 300 miles back, at a time when most travel was on foot at about three miles per hour. So Abraham spent years traveling on foot, simply because the Lord told him to do so, and in all that time, Abraham never received the land he was promised. .

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude — innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11-12, NKJV)

At the age of 75, Abraham was told “I will make you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2a, NKJV), which would obviously mean that he was going to have at least one child. The fulfillment of the promise of a child at age 75 would have been impressive in itself, especially since Sarah was only ten years younger than Abraham (Genesis 17:17-20), but they had to wait another 25 years for that promise to be fulfilled! (Genesis 21:5)

As you might well imagine, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had great difficulty believing that the Lord was either willing, or possibly even able to fulfill His promise, so she tried to help Him out by giving to her husband Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maidservant, as a second wife (Genesis 16:1-4). As a result, when Abraham was 86 years old, Hagar gave birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16:9-16), the ancestor of virtually all the Arab nations that currently surround the nation of Israel. While it did help to keep the promise that Abraham would become the father of many nations (Genesis 17:1-8), unfortunately, it also had some very negative consequences: the descendants of Ishmael have been at odds with the descendants of Israel ever since the birth of Isaac

Yes, Sarah did help to complete a promise the Lord hadn’t even proclaimed yet (that Abraham would become the father of many nations), but she also helped create an enemy for her own natural descendants. Why? Because Sarah wasn’t acting in faith; she really didn’t believe that the Lord was either willing or able to fulfill His promises. She even secretly laughed in scorn when the Lord declared the fulfillment of His promise 13 years after Ishmael’s birth (Genesis 18:1-15), while Abraham laughed in faith and great joy at the same declaration just a couple of hours before (Genesis 17:1-8, 15-22). In fact, Isaac’s name means: “laughter,” an obvious reference to Abraham’s laugh of faith and Sarah’s laugh of mocking disdain. Certainly Abraham wasn’t perfect in his faith (Genesis 12:10-20, 20:1-18), but he was willing to take the Lord at his word, and the Lord rewarded that faith:

… “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6, NKJV)

Will your faith likewise be rewarded, or does your faith lack the diligence and persistence to obtain any real reward?

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)

Copyright (c) 2008 Jon Straumfjord