Monday, January 15, 2007

Background to Abraham

As we leave Job and return to Genesis, we begin with the very important character of Abraham. One of our finest teachers at King's Park International Church, Dan Stolldorf, has recently completed a teaching series on Abraham, so I asked him to give an overview of Abraham's life. He graciously agreed, and it follows below.

Abraham grew up in Ur of the Chaldees near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet and flow into the Persian Gulf in present day Iraq. He arrives on the scene hundreds of years after the Flood at a time when there are no known followers of Jehovah on the earth. The Lord chooses Abram, whose name will be changed later, and reveals Himself in order to begin a relationship that will ultimately produce a people for God’s special possession. Abraham is the patriarch from whom will come the nation of Israel, the Savior Himself, and all those who come to God and receive righteousness on the basis of faith. He is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike as one of the greatest men in history.

Abraham had no mentors and no Scriptures to teach him how to follow God. He had to learn the hard way, through the hard knocks of experience. His life is a study of failures as well as victories. Through his mistakes he learned and grew, and the wise reader is still able to learn along with him. As you examine Abraham’s life, consider his decisions and their consequences. And note the contrasts with his nephew, Lot, who was less wise than Abraham and suffered for it.

Finally, be sure to meditate on the climactic event of Abraham’s life when his finally mature faith and obedience enabled him to offer his precious son on an altar of his own making. (Jewish tradition has Isaac around 30 years old at this time. Clearly his was big and strong enough to shoulder a significant load of firewood up the side of a mountain.) This is one of the most beautiful types in all of scripture, drawing our attention to the profound agony of our heavenly Father when He offered His only Son for our benefit. The big difference, . . . God didn’t hold back the death blow.

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