“And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
There is a causal relationship between my actions toward God and what follows. Throughout scripture, the pattern is put on display: Abraham believed God (cause) and God counted it to him as righteousness (effect); If my people will … (cause) …then I will … (effect); because you have obeyed (cause), all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (effect). I’ve used positive cause and effect pairings for these illustrations, but negatives are also present.
But there is more. Abraham’s obedience did not just affect him. The result mentioned in the verse; the promise of God is that all the nations of the earth will be blessed because of one man’s obedience. I know that I don’t stop to consider my actions; my choices as having that kind of impact, but they might. I do not know when a single kind word might tip the balances for someone and they become a blessing to many, many others. I likewise do not know which cruel word might set someone off on a terrible course of action. It’s not that I’m to blame, it’s just that I’m at fault. What?
To be “to blame” implies guilt and condemnation. Romans tells me that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I am not guilty of; not to blame for another person’s actions. I can, however, be at fault. Think of automotive accidents. I can be at fault without being to blame. To be “at fault” simply means I’ve done something wrong that has contributed to something undesirable — in this example, the accident. I did not cause the accident, but I might not have struck the car ahead of me if I had obeyed traffic laws and followed at a safe distance. I can likewise be “at fault” for what a person does as a result of my action or inaction. I did not cause it, but I contributed to the result. And this is true for both positive and negative outcomes. Who would’ve thought that I could be “at fault” for good things? But that’s just it, my action or inaction can contribute to both good and bad things. Abraham’s action (obedience) added good things into the life of his son, Isaac. Isaac saw obedience and faith modeled. Someone reading that claim would probably question the idea of faith being modeled, but it was. See, Abraham told the servants who traveled with him and Isaac that both of them would go to the mountain to worship and both of them would come back down. It might not have clicked in Isaac’s mind while Abraham had him bound and the knife was about to fall, but the deeper truths in life always take time to sink in. Isaac heard his father say that both of them were coming back then saw the knife poised to fall and had to reconcile those two things in his mind. Had his father lied or had something deeper; something else entirely been going on? But Isaac caught on, because we later see him just chilling and praying while waiting for Rebekah. Abraham’s obedience established a legacy of obedience. No one in that legacy would obey perfectly until a descendant of Abraham from a little town called Nazareth came on the scene. That descendant, one Jesus by name, would obey God perfectly and fulfill everything promised to Abraham and every faithful man to follow after him.
What about me? This morning, I need to start weighing my decisions more carefully. Not every decision is life or death—I don’t think that where I have lunch, for example, will change the course of history—but my obedience to God or lack thereof may very well contribute to another person’s choice to accept or reject Christ. My action or inaction is not the determining factor—we all, ultimately, make our own choice—but it contributes to the sum total of the evidence weighed for and against the veracity of Christ’s claims. Will I, like Abraham, receive a promise that my obedience will be a blessing to others or will I disobey and receive no such promise. The choice is mine.