Abraham. The patriarch of the Jewish faith. Through him we get the nation of Israel. We get the people God inspired to write the Bible. We get the Messiah. Through the story of Abraham we learn that God doesn’t call the perfect or even expect perfection. We get the story of a man God chose to bless the world because he was made righteous by his faith. And that made all the difference.
Abraham’s story is told in the pages of Genesis, specifically chapters 12-25. His highlight reel looks something like this:
Genesis 12: Abraham and his wife Sarah are an old, wealthy, and childless couple. God tells Abraham to leave his home and travel to the Promised Land, which is Canaan. A famine sends Abraham to Egypt, where he tells Pharaoh that Sarah is his sister. This is a half truth.
Genesis 13: Abraham’s wealth continues to build and the land can no longer support all his flocks and herds plus the flocks and herds of his nephew, Lot, who is travelling with him. Abraham gives Lot the first choice of the land. Lot picks the most fertile land, and the two part ways.
Genesis 14: Lot is captured during a war so Abraham takes his own people on a rescue mission. He meets Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God, and gives him one tenth of all the goods he recovered.
Genesis 15: God makes an actual covenant with Abraham, promising to make his descendants as numerous as the stars. Abraham believes God and God considers Abraham righteous because of his faith.
Genesis 16: Sarah, who is old and has never been able to have a child, tells Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar and therefore fulfill God’s promise of many descendants. Abraham agrees, Hagar gets pregnant, and Ishmael is born.
Genesis 17: God again appears to Abraham, reaffirming His promise, and telling Abraham to circumcise all the males in his family as a sign of this promise. Both Abraham and Ishmael are circumcised that day. God also promises that Sarah will have a son. This will be the son through whom God’s promises are realized.
“Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
Genesis 18 and 19: Sarah laughs at the idea that she will have a child and God reveals to Abraham His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness. Abraham pleads with God to spare the cities for the sake of anyone who would be found righteous. Sodom and Gomorrah are later destroyed but Lot and his family are rescued first.
Genesis 20: Again, Abraham tells a foreign king that Sarah is his sister.
Genesis 21: Sarah gets pregnant and has a son, Isaac. Hagar and Sarah resent each other. Sarah tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. And he does. God sees Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness and promises to make a great nation out of Ishmael’s descendants as well.
Genesis 22: God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son through whom God promised to bring a mighty nation. Abraham obeys and makes preparations. God stops Abraham and provides a ram to be sacrificed instead.
Genesis 23, 24, 25: Sarah dies and Abraham mourns. He buys a plot of land and buries Sarah. Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac among his relatives. The servant succeeds and brings Rebekah home to be Isaac’s wife. Abraham remarries and has six sons with his second wife, Keturah. When Abraham dies, Ishmael and Isaac bury him with Sarah.
Now, what are we to learn about this man? A few things:
- When living among idol-worshippers, Abraham remained faithful to God.
- When promised he would be the father of a great nation, he believed God even though he was old and his old wife was childless.
- When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he obeyed, believing that God would raise his son from the dead and still fulfill his promise.
- He was a godly man who taught his sons about the Almighty God.
Abraham was promised something amazing. Crazy, even. And though he only saw a glimpse of it in his lifetime, he fully believed God. His faith was passed down to his kids, who passed it down to their kids, who passed it down to an entire nation of people. It is our first encounter with generational faith. The kind of faith that God uses for centuries. The kind of faith we can pass on to our kids.
“I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”Genesis 18:19
Abundantly More – Knowing God and Making God Known.
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.Hebrews 11:17-19 NLT