Fathers of the Bible: Abraham, father of Nations

Abraham was ten generations from Noah, through the line of Shem. 

We meet Abraham when he is Abram.  The name Abram means exalted father and Abraham the father of many.  He is 75 and living in Harran, the land of Ur with his father, Terah, and brothers, Nahor and Haran.

Abraham became the father of many nations

God tells Abram ““I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”  {Genesis 12: 2}

The problem is Abram and his wife, Sarai have no children.  At the Lord’s command, the couple and their nephew, Lot, leaves the land.

After traveling for years, Sarai grows tired of waiting and gives Abram her maid, Hagar.  The servant has a son, Ishmael. {Genesis 16}

Sarai {Sarah} gave her servant to Abram {Abraham} to have a son, since they’d not had one together. While this may sound strange to us, it was the custom of the day.

Sarah resented the son Hagar gave to Abraham

“Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.”  {Genesis 16: 16}  The name Ishmael means God will hear.

Another, thirteen years pass before the Lord fulfills his promise to Abram, now renamed Abraham.

The original name of the youngest son of Terah was Abram, meaning “father of height.” Abraham was given to him when the promise of a numerous progeny was renewed to him by God.  {All the Men of the Bible}

After twenty-five years of waiting, the son the Lord promised is born.  “Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.”  {Genesis 21:3}  The name Isaac means laughter.

The Lord blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son

“He was taught the lesson of patience, of waiting upon the Eternal God. It was many years before the promise of God was fulfilled to him—promises three in number—of a country, Canaan; of posterity, as the stars of heaven; of a spiritual seed, through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He believed as he waited. His soul fed upon the promises of God. He believed God in the face of long delay and also amid difficulties that seemed insuperable. This is why he is called “the father of all them that believe.”” {All the Men of the Bible}

Sarah is thrilled to have her son but not everything is kosher. Sarah is resentful of Abraham’s other son.

It must have done Sarah’s heart good to see Abraham with their son, Isaac

Sarah is jealous of Ishmael and Abraham sends her away. This was not an easy decision for him, though. “the matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.”  {Genesis 21:11}

“But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”  {Genesis 21:12-13}

“He was subject to failures. His character, like the sun, had its spots. Abraham’s conduct to Hagar on two occasions, in sending her away, is painful to remember.. The falsehood which on two occasions he told with regard to Sarah his wife gives us a glimpse into a natural character somewhat cowardly, deceitful and distrustful “ {All the Men of the Bible}

Abraham’s faith was tested when God asked him to sacrifice his son

God calms Abraham’s fears and promise to watch over his son.  This won’t be the last time he’s tested.

The Lord test Abraham when he commands him to take Isaac and sacrifice him.  “”Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.””  {Genesis 22:2}

“He was called to offer up special sacrifices Then we have the offering up of Isaac, an act of faith on Abraham’s part and yet a trial of faith (Gen. 22). What a demand God made! But Abraham did not withhold his only son of promise. What God wanted was Abraham’s heart, not Isaac’s life. So when the knife was raised to slay Isaac, a provided substitute appeared. After this sacrifice Abraham received the testimony that he had pleased God.” {All the Men of the Bible}

God provided a ram in Isaac’s stead

Even in the middle of the storm, Abraham remains faithful and trust God will provide.

“Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.”  {Genesis 22:8}

“ “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,  because you have obeyed me.””  {Genesis 22:16-18}

Abraham was faithful and God blessed him for it.

Isaac also grew up and after Sarah’s death, Abraham sent a servant back to Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son. Isaac married Rebekah and the couple had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.   {Genesis 24}

God promised Abraham he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, but the elderly couple was childless

More changes came after Sarah’s death.  Ishmael and Isaac weren’t Abraham’s only sons.

Upon Sarah’s death, Abraham married a concubine Keturah and they had six sons.   {Genesis 25:1-4}

However, Isaac remained the promised son.  He was what we would call the golden child.

 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.  But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.  {Genesis 25:5}

Abraham longed to keep the peace, even after he was gone. This is why he sent his  other sons away.

Abraham sent a servant to search for a wife for Isaac

Abraham died at the age of 175.  Isaac and Ishmael buried their father in the Cave of Machpelah. {Genesis 25:7-11}

Abraham teaches us three lessons: “1. Faith has always trials. Being a Christian does not mean that trial is impossible or unnecessary. The greater the faith, the greater the trial. 2. Faith shines through the cloud. How the patience and meekness of Jesus are manifest through His trials! Take away Abraham’s trials and where is his faith? Faith must be tried, in order that faith may live. 3. Faith in spite of trial glorifies God. Abraham’s story is written in tears and blood, but how God was glorified by his trials of faith! Abraham’s obedience of faith earned him the honor, “Abraham My friend!” “ {All the Men of the Bible}

Abraham became the father of nations through his eight sons.  Abraham passed his faith and lessons on to his sons, especially Isaac.

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