In the first instance, God told Abraham (then known as Abram) to “leave your country … and go to the land that I will show you.” And at 75 years of age Abraham obeyed God and went, and arrived in Canaan. (Genesis 12:1-7; cf. Galatians 3:8-9.)
Years later, in calming Abraham’s fears, God revealed to Abraham that his descendants would be numerous—“too many to count." Abraham “believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.” (Genesis 15:5; cf. Romans 4:3, 9, 20-22.)
And now Abraham is 99 years old, and God is again instructing him. Abraham obeys God and meets his covenant obligations, “exactly as God had told him” (Genesis 17:23.) Abraham is circumcised, along with his 13-year-old son Ishmael.
Abraham is declared right with God not through the ceremonial act of circumcision, but through his faith that led to his obedience. And so are all peoples, who have “the same kind of faith Abraham had”— trusting in God’s promise and obeying His command. (Genesis 17:10-11; cf. Romans 4:11-12.)
(A thought to ponder for comment: Imagine what would have resulted if Abraham had not obeyed his part of the agreement (covenant). Would we have been utterly cut off from God? Abraham was the man of God’s choice through whom a better covenant would come, initiating the highest priority to be obeyed for the blessing of all peoples of the earth.)
Time-traveling, we again meet the I AM, Jesus, the Christ (the Anointed One), who here declares, proclaiming His divinity, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was born” (John 8:58).
Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem teaching about Himself. To the Jews He says, “When you have lifted up the Son of man on the cross”— predicting the kind of death He is to die —“then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak what the Father taught me” (John 8:28).
At hearing Him, many in the crowd believe in him (John 8:30). Yet many, namely the Jewish leaders and the teachers of the Law, find it difficult to grasp what Jesus is teaching.
“Our father is Abraham,” they declare.
“No,” Jesus counters. “If you were children of Abraham, you would follow his good example [of faith and obedience].” (John 8:39; cf. Galatians 3:7, 14, 29.)
“Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it [through the eyes of faith] and was glad” (John 8:56; Genesis 22:17-18.)
Jesus is a descendant of Abraham. Jesus, because he will obey God even unto death, is the blessing for all peoples of the earth. This is why He was sent, and so sends us (John 20:21). Clearly stating the highest priority, then, for all believers to obey, Jesus proclaims, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News [of His coming, death, resurrection, and eternal life] to everyone, everywhere” (Mark 16:15; cf. Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8.)
Continuing through time, to 17th Century America, we meet the Mayhew family, arriving from England in the 1630's. They’re among those who have believed, and have accepted Jesus’s call to the highest priority.
Yet, contrasting the adage “like father, like son,” perhaps the story of the Mayhew’s obedience can be recorded as "like son, like father.”
Thomas Mayhew, Sr., arrives in America not first as a pastor or even a missionary, but for social and economic purposes—a temporal, lower priority. He purchases proprietary rights soon after his arrival in the new world, settles on Martha’s Vineyard, and becomes its governor.
The younger Mayhew, Thomas, Jr., is first to heed the call to the highest priority. He studies abroad, and is ordained for the ministry in his early 20s. Returning to Martha’s Vineyard, he primarily ministers to white settlers. Later, he launches a mission work among the Pokanauket tribe of the Wampanoag people His first convert is Hiacoomes, who becomes an interpreter and evangelist. In less than ten years there are nearly 300 Pokanauket believers in Christ.
Thomas Mayhew, Jr., pursues his God-ordained task with little heed to his personal needs. As Thomas, Sr., will put it, his son labored in the highest priority "when 'twas bare with him for food and rayment, and when indeede there was nothing in sight any waies but Gods promises."
In a call for more workers, Thomas, Jr., in his early 30s, sails for England, yet the ship is lost at sea. Being taken from the physical realm at so early an age, he leaves behind his wife and young children.
Searching but in vain for someone to replace his son in the mission endeavor, Thomas, Sr., himself nearly 70 years of age, assumes his son’s duties, serving as a missionary for about 22 years. His grandson, John Mayhew, joins him in the work. After Thomas, Sr.’s death, Experience Mayhew, of the 4th generation of Mayhews, continues pursuing the highest priority for yet another 32 years, proclaiming Christ’s coming, death, resurrection, and eternal life to the peoples of Martha’s Vineyard.
Four generations of obeying God's call.
And God continues His search today for others who, like the Mayhew family of 17th Century America, will obey the highest priority among the peoples of the earth.