Why should it matter to us that a man who lived approximately two thousand years before Christ simply believed God’s promise? Here’s one all-important reason taken from the Multiply material under the section titled “The Faith of Abraham” (169-171):
The New Testament makes a big deal out of the faith of Abraham. And rightly so. In Genesis 15, Abraham stood before God and voiced his confusion over God’s promise to make him into a great nation. Abraham said to God, “You’ve made these promises [in Genesis 12], but I have no offspring. I have only a servant in my household to be my heir.” God responds by bringing him outside and telling him to look toward the heavens and count the stars, if he was able to number them. And then God said, “So shall your offspring be.”
And what did Abraham say in response to this? Nothing. Genesis 15 doesn’t record a single word from Abraham in response. It seems that he was speechless. But the Bible does tell us one important thing about Abraham’s response: Abraham believed God. God made a huge promise that seemed impossible, and Abraham simply took God at His word. He believed it would happen just as God said. And then Genesis 15 adds a very significant comment. “He believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness” (v. 6). His simple belief in God’s promise was “credited to him” as righteousness. He was now in a right relationship with God because of his faith.
The Promise of Jesus
Romans 4 adds an incredible commentary on this statement and applies it to those of us who follow Jesus today. The words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will count towards those who believe in Christ’s resurrection from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (vv. 23–25)
Paul was saying that Genesis 15:6 was written down for our sake so that we would believe in Jesus, who died to pay for our sins and the God who raised Him from the dead. Abraham lived some four thousand years before Jesus came to the earth, but he was declared righteous because he believed what God said about what he would do through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ. We live some two thousand years after Jesus came to the earth, but we are declared righteous when we believe what God says about what he has done through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ.
Through Abraham, God set into motion his plan to redeem the world by creating a people for himself. And ultimately he would send his Son Jesus Christ, Abraham’s descendant, to set the world to rights. We will discuss Jesus much more in future sessions, but for now, it’s important to see the plan as it develops with Abraham.