“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” (Hebrews 11:8).
Hebrews 11:8 marks the emergence of Abraham, one of the more prominent Biblical figures in the Hebrews 11 “Faith Hall Of Fame.” However, this is not Abraham’s first appearance in the Biblical book of Hebrews. For instance, the author of Hebrews highlighted God’s promises to Abraham earlier in Hebrews chapter six when he wrote the following…
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you'” (Hebrews 6:13-14).
Here in Hebrews 11, the focus will shift from God’s promises to Abraham to Abraham’s faithful decision to act upon those promises. In the words of one commentator, “Abraham’s faith was so great, that he was not particularly concerned as to what the nature of the country was. His faith displaced all worry as to his future in that country. He did not trouble to think upon the matter.” (1)
The book of Genesis tells us that Abraham (then known as Abram), accepted those promises, took God at His word, and “…departed as the Lord instructed him…” He continued on that lengthy journey until he finally reached the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:4-8). The following verses of Hebrews chapter eleven pick up Abraham’s account from there…
“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 11:9-10).
Although Abram was quite wealthy by the time he arrived in Canaan (Genesis 13:2), he was an aged man in an unfamiliar environment with relatively few friends and many prospective enemies. Those enemies included several potentially hostile neighbors, including the Canaanites and another local people group known as the Perizzites (Genesis 13:7).
So, other than his servants, his possessions, and a nephew named Lot (who would later make an ill-fated decision to leave his uncle and establish a new residence near Sodom), Abraham had little more than a promise from God- a promise that he accepted and believed by faith. Because of this, Genesis 15:6 tells us that “(Abraham) believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (NIV).
(1) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament [Hebrews 11:8] Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.