Abraham, The First Hebrew
"Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country,
from your family and from your father's house, 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; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." -
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
We now move on to another very important subject. That is the subject of
Abraham, who became the first Hebrew, and whose family God chose to weave His
scarlet thread through the linen of humanity. It was through Abraham's
descendants that the Jewish nation would arise, a people who would receive the
covenant of the Lord, and that One of those descendants would be the Savior, not
only for the Jews but for the whole world.
Abraham lived in the city of Ur (capital of the ancient kingdom of Sumer).
Sometime around 2,000 BC. God called Abraham to leave his home and go to a new
land that God would show Him. The Bible traces Abraham's steps from Ur to Haran
(north of Canaan), through the land of Canaan, into Egypt, and back into Canaan
(which later became Israel).
God promised to give Abraham a son through his wife Sarah who was barren (unable
to bear children). Through this son, a mighty nation would arise and also an
uncountable amount of descendants, and One of those descendants would be a
blessing to all the nations in the world.
This promise seemed impossible because they were so old but Abraham believed
what God said, though later he doubted and tried to force God's hand by having a
son through Sarah's servant girl, Hagar. In ancient times this was accepted, but
not in God's sight. It violated His law for marriage (Gen 2), and Abraham
suffered greatly for his sin. His son from Hagar, Ishmael, turned against Isaac,
Abraham's son of the promise, who was born 13 years after Ishmael, when Abraham
was 100 and Sarah was 90. So Ishmael had to leave Abraham's household.
Abraham was called the first "Hebrew" which probably means "to cross over"
because he was supposedly so foolish for thinking that there was just one God
and if he crosses over the Euphrates river that he would find this new land that
God had promised. But it was with Abraham that God established His covenant.
This was God's promise:
Gen 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your
country, from your family and from your father's house, 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; and in you all the families of the earth shall
Abraham believed the Lord as it says:
Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him
Circumcision was the seal and reminder of the covenant, and so all of Abraham's
male descendants would be circumcised to remind them that God would someday
fulfill all the promises that He made to Abraham. Notice that Abraham believed
before he was circumcised. Faith came before works. This is an important point
that Paul makes in the book of Romans that salvation is by grace through faith
alone (Rom 4).
There was a very beautiful yet wicked place in Canaan called Sodom and
Gomorrah and the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy it but Abraham
pleaded with God to spare the sinful cities for that is where his nephew Lot
lived. God sent an angel to rescue Lot and his family but destroyed the cities
because of their homosexuality and other abominations.
Now there were many important events that took place in Abraham's life but there
is one that is important to mention. As Abraham grew stronger in faith, God told
him to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to prove his faith (Gen 22),
Abraham obeyed and brought Isaac to Mount Moriah, laid him on the altar and at
the last minute the Lord told him not to kill Isaac and gave him a ram for the
sacrifice. Here we see Abraham's faith (Heb 11:17-19) and a beautiful picture of
Christ. The Bible calls Abraham a friend of God:
Isa 41:8 "But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen,
the descendants of Abraham My friend.
Before we move on keep in mind that the Lord made this peculiar promise to
Gen 15:13-14 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your
descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them,
and they will afflict them four hundred years. "And also the nation whom
they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.