Character Sketches » Abraham
Little is known of Abraham's early life except that he lived in Ur of the Chaldees with his Father, Terah and his brothers Nahor and Haran. Abraham and Haran took wives, and Haran's wife bore Lot, Abraham's nephew. Abraham moved with his father and brothers and their wives to Canaan where Terah died.
While he was living in his Father's house God told him to leave his country and go to a land that God would show him, and God gave him a promise that he would make a great nation , bless him, make him great and all the families of the earth would be blessed because of him. At this point in time Abram was a man of wealth and prestige with 318 trained household servants. Abraham was not told where he would be going but he acted in faith and did as God told him and eventually reached Schechem, one of the oldest cities of Palestine. There the Lord appeared to him and repeated his promise to Abram to give him the land.
Consider how it must have been for this man who lived among idol worshiping people to somehow hear the voice of the one true and living God so clearly that he was ready to leave his people and his heritage, and how difficult it must have been to explain to his neighbors and friends. Imagine if he told them that he didn't even know where he was going but he knew God told him to go anyway and he was trusting this God to direct him. Imagine Abram starting out with all his wealth and all his servants and family without any specific direction and, in faith, believing that God would fulfill his word. The people probably thought he was a little crazy, but he left no matter what!
A grievous famine came to Canaan, and Abram and his group moved into Egypt, but his stay in Egypt was, in all probability, very brief. While in Egypt he practiced deception to preserve his life instead of trusting the Lord to keep him safe. Like all of us he had times when he was inclined to trust to his natural abilities and understanding and, like us, found that God alone has the best solution to everything and is able to keep us and direct us.
He returned from Egypt camped near Bethel and Ai in Southern Palestine and there Abram built and altar to the Lord. Lot had stayed with Abram throughout his journey and had also become very wealthy. Their property had become so great that they could not dwell in the same place together, and so they agreed to part. An altercation between Abram's men and Lot's was the deciding factor, and so Lot left. After Lot left, God spoke to Abram again saying that Abraham would inherit the land in every direction forever. Later Abram had to rescue Lot who was captured when Sodom and Gomorrah were sacked during a war.
On his way back from rescuing Lot, Abram encountered Melchisedek, was promised an heir and seed numbering as the stars of Heaven, heard a prophesy of the Hebrew's enslavement and was given land and ten tribes. It was here that Abram gave Melchisedek a tenth of all that he had. Abram also had a dream in which God revealed to him future historical events including the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt and their severe and long-lasting bondage, the judgments upon Egypt for their oppression of God's people, Abram's own death and burial, and the return of his people to the promised land.
Further events include Ishmael's birth and rejection as the promised son, Abram's name changed to Abraham meaning “father of nations,” more promises from God and an everlasting covenant, Sarai, Abraham's wife renamed Sarah (meaning princess), the Lord appearing to Abraham as he sat in a tent and predicting Sarah's pregnancy, Abraham's intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, and finally Isaac's birth; a miraculous event considering that Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 and had never had a child. One again we see the great faith of this man in that he believed that in spite of their advanced ages God could do the miraculous and give them a child, and not only a child but the son of promise.
Perhaps the most well know story of Abraham's life concerns his willingness to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him up for a burnt offering on a distant mountain. They journeyed for three days, and then Abraham made the statement to his men, "Remain here and I and the lad will go up and worship and come again to you." As they were going up the hill Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb was for the sacrifice and Abraham told him God would provide the lamb. In spite of that statement no lamb showed up immediately and Abraham was getting ready to kill his son and offer him for a sacrifice. This was an amazing act of great faith because Isaac was the son of promise, and Abraham's obedience clearly reveals that he believed that God would raise his son up from the dead so the promise could continue. Of course, every student of scripture knows that and angel stopped him and there was a ram caught in the thicket and Abraham offered that ram as sacrifice, and as he told his servants; he and his son returned to them and they went home. This incident was a portrayal of a prophetic allusion to the great sacrifice of God's only Son to atone for the sins of undeserving mankind.
Soon after the promise of a son the Lord spoke to Abraham of his intentions concerning the cities of the plain, Gomorrah and Sodom. Abraham pleaded with the Lord for mercy on the cities Genesis 18:23-32 starting with a request to spare the city if 50 righteous people could be found. God said he would spare the city for that many people. Abraham then began his famous countdown from 50 to 45, from 45 to 40, from 40 to 30, from 30 to 20. and finally from 20 to 10. In every instance God said he would spare the city for the righteous as Abraham asked for mercy, but there were not even ten righteous in the entire city. I would think that we are in a time when God might have trouble finding a comparative number of righteous people in order to spare our nation and the world. The blaspheming of His name daily by millions, the barbaric murders of people on every continent, the murder of innocent babies across the world, the idolatry in so many places, the open mockery of his son Jesus, the lewdness shown in pornography, advertising, and other media, the entertainment industry mocking God at every turn, and multitudes of other sins against him and his commandments are beyond numbering and beyond measure.
How this nation should tremble as the signs of Christ's coming seem to be more and more evident. Jesus warned all of us in Matthew 24 of the coming of false Christs, drunk living, wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against one another, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in many places, false prophet and false teachers in abundance, coldness and indifference among those who call themselves Christians, and finally the emergence of the Anti-Christ who will deceive the whole world and make himself God and be worshiped by the ignorant and unbelieving. Now we are seeing the move toward a one world government and a one world religion that is a prominent mark of the end time where Christians are not invited and Christ is changed into an entity that misrepresents him and makes him very convenient for all religions to accept as he is devoid of majesty and just becomes one of many gods. This is the time of testing and a time of purging and then everyone will know who will stand with the Christ of scripture.
Abraham was obedient, unselfish, courageous, benevolent, a man of prayer, loyal to his family and friends, a man of great faith, and yet, very much like all of us in our weaknesses and shortcomings. In spite of those shortcomings God raised him up and he became the father of all nations and is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. He died peaceably at the age of 175 years and was carried to a cave in Macpelah by Isaac and Ishmael to be buried in the same sepulchre as his wife Sarah. He alone was called “the friend of God.” What an amazing legacy!
C. R. Lord © 1980