The Life of Abraham

 
 

By

Mary Giangreco


Introduction


Abraham was a man who believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  After the death of his father Terah, his life begins to explode, as the Braille Road of Faith unfolds step by step.  Faith for Abraham was a pilgrimage with an unseen God who was very real to him and who expected complete faith, trust and love for Him.  Abraham had four tests presented and the last test was the cliff hanger.  In that test God said to him, “Now I know you fear God” (Genesis 22:12). 


Abrahamic Covenant Begins


It was Terah that took Abram and others to go into Canaan.  Terah seems to have become converted to Abram’s God and desired to flee idolatry and persecution from his neighbors.  In this case Abram was not as disobedient as he is generally pictured.  God repeats His call to Abram which was first given in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31).1  


Genesis 12:1-3


“Now the Lord had said to Abram:  get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.


I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.


I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


Abram commences the story of God’s creation of Israel, a story in which He will reveal His freedom in being merciful to Israel, His holiness in judging them, His faithfulness in restoring them, and His absolute sovereignty over human history.  Abram’s story begins with his departure from a city of a man (Ur) in search of a city “whose builder and maker is God.”2  Abram is a man who is carrying a nation of people by faith in the God of creation.  This small beginning which seemed unwarranted to leave everything for a dream of God was really the beginning of the back drop for Moses to lead a nation of people to possess the promise made to Abraham. 


Abraham leaves his country and family taking with him his wife Sarai and Lot his nephew and traveled to the land of Canaan.  He settles at the terebinth tree of Moreh where the Lord appears to him.


The Lord Appears to Abram 


Genesis 12:7


Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.


Abram’s journey took him to the place where the Lord, face to face, would specifically reveal the revelation of an open heaven that would carry with it the inheritance of land and future descendants.  This was the beginning of many altars that would be built by Abram.  On the very spot that the Lord appears to him, he builds an altar that memorialized his encounter and communion with God.   The altar made an open confession of his faith in God, set up a place of worship of the one and true God and was a memorial of his declaration of faith in the promise of God.  The altar symbolized that the land of Canaan belonged to God.  This altar along with many altars built by Abram would also be a symbol of his heart, made manifested for all to see that he worshiped an unseen God who was real to him.


Abram’s Little White Lie


From here Abram moves on to the mountain east of Bethel (Genesis 12:8), then continues toward the South; and there was a famine in the land as he goes into Egypt.  When he went among the Egyptians he was in fear because his wife was beautiful and the Egyptians would be tempted toward her.  He feared for his life and he told Sarai to lie and say he was her brother. The reality was that, Abram was her half brother they had the same fathers. Sarai did what her husband asked her and Pharaoh brought her into his royal harem.  In the meantime, Abram is being blessed with sheep, oxen, male donkeys, female servants, female donkeys and camels.  Pharaoh’s house is being plagued by the Lord.  Abram was being confronted by Pharaoh and he confesses that Sarai is his wife and Pharaoh sent them away (Genesis 12:9-20).


Back Where He Started


Abraham returns to Canaan and he and Lot his nephew are prospering to the point that strife and dissention began among the herdsmen.  To avoid greater division and appearing weak in the eyes of their enemies Abram tells Lot we must separate.  Lot chooses the plain of the Jordan and journeyed east as far as Sodom.  Abraham remained in Canaan (Genesis 13:6-12).   The Lord encouraged him saying, “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you (Genesis 13:16-17).  The Lord was saying to Abram, walk in the land, it is yours. Wherever your foot will tread I will give it to you and your descendants.  Don’t give up hope because Lot has left. This changes nothing and Abram walked and looked over the land, familiarizing himself with it.


Abram Rescues Lot


King Chedorlaomer of Elam with three allied kings marched against Sodom and Gomorrah and defeated them. They also captured Lot and took all his wealth with them (Genesis 14:1, 11-12).  Abram heard what happened to his nephew and gathered three hundred eighteen men who were his servants and defeated them as far as Dan and Hobah.  He brought back Lot and all his goods (Genesis 14:14-16). 


Meeting with Melchizedek


Genesis 14:18-20


Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.


And he blessed him and said: blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth;


And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.


Melchizedek, whose name means “My King is Righteous or Legitimate,” greets Abram with a royal banquet (bread and wine).   Uniquely occupying the offices of king and priest, he worships God Most High.  Abraham responds to his office, generosity, and blessing by giving him a tithe of all the spoils gathered in the recent war.3 


The Promise of an Heir


God promises Abram a son would come from his own body (Genesis 15:4).  Once again God reiterates the promise showing him the stars in the sky.


Genesis 15:5-6


Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.”  And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”


And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

If Abram worked for, and merited, justification, then it was not of grace, because God would have owed it to him.  But if he believed God for it, instead of working for it, then faith was counted for righteousness and God gave it to him as a favor.  Since he was called when he was a heathen, a Gentile idolater, and he was justified freely by faith, then all other sinners can likewise be justified.4  Abram, being a friend of God (James 2:23) took Him at His word and received the promise to be done.  He was, “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21).

The Birth of Ishmael

Abram made his residence in Canaan for ten years and there was no child between him and Sarai.  Sarai, who is now seventy five years old, gets the bright idea to give her handmaiden, Hagar to Abraham to have a child.  This was the custom of the times that the barren woman would give a slave as a secondary wife to bear children.  Those children would become the barren woman’s children.  As the child is born on the knees of the barren woman, it represented her giving birth.  Abram and Hagar have a child and name him Ishmael.  God is relentless in saying that Abraham’s heir will come from his body and the body of Sarai his wife.

God’s Covenant with Abraham   

By this time Abram was ninety-nine years old.  God has once again reminded him of the promises and appeared to him declaring His name, “I am Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1).  He made a covenant with him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham meaning, father of many nations5 (Genesis 17:5).  Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah meaning, “princess”6 (Genesis 17:15).  She will, “be a mother of nations and kings of peoples shall be from her” (Genesis 17:16).  God instructs Abraham to circumcise himself and the males in his camp and those who are bought with money (Genesis 17:10-14).  God reassured Abraham that Sarah who was ninety years old will give birth to a son in one year (Genesis 17:21).  His name will be Isaac and he will be the heir (Genesis 17:19).

A Year Has Come and Gone

A year passed and Isaac was born and eight days later he was circumcised (Genesis 21:2-4).  The years past as Isaac grew into a boy and the day came when Ishmael mocked him.  Sarah was not a happy mother.  She cast Hagar and Ishmael out of the camp to take life on their own.  Abraham was very displeased and God comforted him saying what Sarah has said is right.   He had to let Ishmael go and he did.

Abraham’s Faith is Tested

Genesis 22:1-2

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!  And he said, “Here I am.”

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.

Isaac was the only son of Abraham and the son of promise; Ishmael was gone.  Abraham began his three day journey for Moriah with Isaac with a single eye to obey God.  He responded to the questions of the young men who were with him that he and Isaac would “come back” (Genesis 22:5).  His obedience was faith bound in his response to them.  In his heart he knew God was able to raise him from the dead, which is a type of Christ.  Abraham and Isaac walked up the mountain, the sacrifice was ready, the fire was burning and Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb,” Abraham’s response, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” (Genesis 22:7-8).  This was again a statement of faith in the name of Jehovah Jireh.  We see Abraham’s faith again and again in the unseen God, creator of heaven and earth.   He could not fully comprehend the object of God’s command, but he had the fullest confidence in His wisdom, love, and providential care for both himself and Isaac.7

He build an altar, placed the wood in order, bound Isaac and laid him on the altar and took out his knife to slay his son. (Genesis 22:9).   Abraham, holding a deep breath, looking eye to eye with Isaac, lifting high the knife in his quivering hand, getting ready to slay him. Isaac knows his father is obeying the Lord because there is no lamb; he is the lamb.  At the moment he begins to lower the knife hovering over his son, the “Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!  So he said, “Here I am.”  Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:10-12).  Jehovah Jireh, The-Lord-Will-Provide, did just that.  Supernatural provision was made for Abraham and Isaac and there was “a ram caught in a thicket of thorns” and it was offered to the Lord instead of Isaac, the son of promise. 

Conclusion Abraham a Man of Faith  

  In every test or crisis Abraham was faced with, he remained steadfast in faith and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  He had four significant tests that demonstrated his love for the one and true God.  The very first demonstration of faith and surrender to God began when he gave up his country and family, to begin a journey where he was directed by God (Genesis 12:1).    Seeing that Abraham took Lot with him on this journey of faith, when strife arose in the camp he had to make a decision to separate himself from Lot and so he did, this was the second test (Genesis 13:1-18).  The third test was incredibly heart breaking when he had to agree with Sarah to let Ishmael go with his mother and live on their own.  Ishmael being his first born son was not the heir that God had chosen (Genesis 17:17-18).  The fourth test of faith was the greatest and most heart wrenching of all the tests put together.  It was his willingness to offer up Isaac, his only son, the son of promise, the son of all his expectations.  There he was faced with the hardest thing that a father could do to his son.  Abraham pulled through and God was faithful.  In the end God said, “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:15-18).