Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. [Genesis 15:6]
We all know the verse. We have read it and quoted it many times. We have heard it preached and taught in church, on television, and probably on the radio. We all think we probably know what it means.
For me, it has been an ongoing revelation. The idea that Abraham believed and as a result was made righteous never fully satisfied me. I knew there had to be more.
The apostle Paul gives us a very good explanation in Romans 4:
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness… [Romans 4:1-5]
So Abraham understood that the righteousness he must receive would not be the result of his own efforts. He learned that righteousness is purely a gift, as Paul states in the next chapter:
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. [Romans 5:17]
REIGN IN LIFE?
Another pretty big clue is that Abraham received a promise:
Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” [Genesis 15:4-5]
Now, before this, at the beginning of his journey, the Lord told Abraham in Genesis 12:2: “And I will make you a great nation…” But He did not specify how this would happen.
Once they arrived in Canaan, the Lord stated: “To your descendants I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). Abraham must have assumed it meant he would somehow have a family. All he had, however, was a certain Eliezar of Damascus whom he referred to as one born in his house, though not his offspring. He took his concern to God regarding this and we know the rest of the story:
Abraham and Sarah would have a child though they could not have children.
This is what Abraham believed. He believed the Lord was telling him the truth in promising him he would have a son, though such an event would be physically impossible. This faith in God and belief in His impossible promise coming to fruition is what made Abraham a righteous man.
Later, I understood that Abraham didn’t simply believe something he already saw in the present, he believed in something he could not see in the future, and he pledged himself to God that he would be obedient in whatever God told him to do.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. That made perfect sense and added to the spiritual fact. Most people would never sign off on such a contract. And it was a contract. It was a covenant ratified between God and Abraham and was based on an impossible promise. If Abraham was to believe God, he would have to believe the impossible.
Here is the key: ABRAHAM DID NOT BELIEVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES NO MATTER HOW REAL THEY APPEARED IF THEY DISAGREED WITH GOD’S PROMISE.
Abraham and Sarah could not have children but God promised Abraham he would have a son. This makes no sense to the rational mind. It is scientifically impossible, at least on the surface according to known facts.
The only way for such an event to take place then, is by entering The Miracle Realm. This is what happened. Abraham believed God especially because what God said made no sense. This is where his faith came in.
He made the decision to believe God’s promise. He chose to believe God. He heard God. He knew he heard God. And he knew what God said. But he also knew they could not have kids. So he believed God had the power to overcome that fact and would overcome that fact—SOMEHOW, SOME WAY.
However, in order for Abraham to enter The Miracle Realm he must first give his life to God. And giving one’s life to God means a person must commit to doing anything and everything God says to do, both in the present and in the future. Abraham did this. He signed off on the covenant. Making the covenant with God always comes first.
Later though, after being faithful for several years, Abraham stepped out of faith. He violated the covenant. He lost faith in God and disobeyed God by choosing to obey his wife who had no faith (barren). He decided to leave The Miracle Realm and go back to the world of man where faith was not required.
As a result they created Ishmael, who was birthed according to purely natural means by someone who was NOT Sarah. This was NOT faith. If there would be a miracle, God said Sarah must be the mother.
Though Ishmael was loved by God, and though Ishmael’s descendants were and are loved by God, Ishmael is not Isaac, Hagar is not Sarah, and the fallen world of man is not The Miracle Realm:
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
For it is written, “REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. [Galatians 4:22-28] 
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.