PreludeWhy was Abram’s name changed to Abraham? Why is he called father Abraham? How did Abraham become father of the faithful?
Purpose: Let’s look at the life of Abraham and discover why he is called a father to those who believe.
Plan: We’ll look at Genesis 12-25 and the life of a patriarch of our faith.
Genesis 12 I WillIn Genesis 12 God said to Abram six times “I will.” He told Abram go, "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” (Genesis 12:1-3). Abram left a comfortable life in Harran because he had faith in God’s promise. “To your descendants I will give this land.” (Genesis 12:7) But Abram deceived Pharaoh, “...they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister.” He was fallible.
Genesis 13-14 Abram & LotAbram was very rich in gold and silver and had enormous herds of animals. The land could not hold his and Lot’s herds so they separated. Revealing his character, Abram let Lot choose the best land. “If you take the left, then I will go to the right.” (Genesis 13:9) Lot chose the greener, sin-filled plains, but eventually needed rescue. Eastern kings attacked, captured Lot and his family. Abram took 318 fighting men and saved them. Then he met Melchizedek king of Salem [Jerusalem], a priest of God. Abram “gave him a tithe [a tenth] of all” (Genesis 14:20) and refused to be bribed by the king of Sodom.
Genesis 15-17 CovenantGod encouraged Abram, “count the stars… So shall your descendants be… And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5-6) Sarai used her handmaid as a surrogate, who bore Ishmael. God changed Abram’s name from High Father (Abram) to Father of a Multitude (Abraham), and Sarai’s name from Princess (Sarai) to THE Princess (Sarah). God instituted circumcision as a sign of the covenant and promised a son via Sarah. Abraham laughed that a hundred-year-old man would father a son. So God said, “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac [Yitzhak, He Laughs].” (Genesis 17:19)
Genesis 18-19 SodomOur Lord with two angels visited Abraham, promised a son and shared God’s plans for Sodom. Abraham asked about fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, or ten righteous there. The Lord promised, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” (Genesis 18:32). Lot lived in a city of ego, obesity, idleness, and where the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged suffered (Ezekiel 16:49). The Angels entered Lot’s home, but a mob yelled, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” (Genesis 19:5) The angels rescued Lot from the gang, struck them blind and next morning destroyed the city.
Genesis 20 Abraham Deceives AbimelechThough Abraham was faithful to God, like us he was still not a perfect man. His defense by deception which came to the fore in Egypt had returned. Now the situation was similar with Abimelech king of Gerar. God warned Abimelech in a dream not to take Sarah as his wife. “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” (Genesis 20:7) We, like Abraham, are not perfect, yet we too can pray for people that they may live.
Genesis 21 IsaacIsaac was born as promised, and circumcised. Sarah wanted Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. God told Abraham, “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.” (Genesis 21:12-13) How does a father feel, sacrificing his son, to war, or to a cross? Abraham faced that test, believing God’s promise that, “In Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham was spared that suffering. God was not.
Genesis 23-25 Generational ChangeSarah died and Abraham bought property in Hebron to bury her. Then, Genesis 24 contains a beautiful love story, and the moving faithfulness of Abraham’s servant whom he sent to his own people to find Isaac a wife. Rebekah was willing, Isaac loved her and she became his wife. In Genesis 25 after Sarah’s death, Abraham had more children by Keturah and several concubines. He sent them away with gifts and gave his entire inheritance to Isaac. Later Mosaic law would be more equitable. After Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael buried him beside Sarah and the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael still attend his grave to this day, side-by-side in Hebron.
PostludeAbraham was far from perfect but, “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) “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:17) “‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.