Great People of the Bible Series
Abraham holds a unique position in the Bible. He is given two Biblical descriptions that no other person ever received. Yet far from being a perfect saint, the Bible describes Abraham as a man who feared, doubted, schemed, and even deceived. Despite these faults, the Bible says that Abraham is an example for all believers. We will examine his weaknesses and draw lessons from them for our lives, and then note his strengths and how they can inspire us to live more passionately for God.
We are introduced to Abraham in Genesis 11:26. We know that he had at least two brothers, and that his father was relatively old when he became a father. I wonder whether Abraham ever thought that his father was old. Perhaps Terah was nearly 80 years old when he fathered Abraham. If he did, its rather ironic that Abraham himself was near 80 years old when he became a father. If we can see any lesson here, we can see that youíre never too old to start a new journey. Ray Kroc, the man behind McDonaldís Restaurants, was nearing retirement when he met the McDonald brothers and launched the chain of hamburger stores. Colonel Sanders was well into his sixties when he started selling his fried chicken. Winston Churchill was a senior man when led Great Britain through the Second World War, who lost the election after the war. Many men would have slipped graciously into a well earned retirement, but Churchill returned to the campaign trail in the 1950s and was re-elected as Britainís Prime Minister for a second time when he was quite elderly. Age is no obstacle to doing something great for God!
1. Where was Abraham born and raised according Genesis 11:28 (Acts 7:2-4)? Note where this is using Bible maps.
The significance of this is that Abraham would have presumably grown up in a very idolatrous environment. The Chaldeans had a reputation for being a ruthless warrior people (note Job 1:17; Ezek. 23:14-15). Their penchant for idolatry is perhaps most clearly seen in their greatest King (note Ezra 5:12; Daniel 3:1). So it appears that when Yahweh spoke to Abraham he probably would have undergone quite a conversion from a lifestyle of idolatry to new lifestyle of monotheism.
2. The other significant thing that we note about Abraham in Genesis 11:26, was that he wasnít called Abraham. Note his original name, and match it to its original meaning:
Select his original name:
Select its original meaning:
(i) Mother of twins
(ii) Dances with wolves
(iii) High Father
The story of Abraham is pivotal on the account found in Genesis 12:1-3. This passage marks the call, commission, and covenant that God had with Abraham. This passage is simply referred to as "the promises" (note Romans 9:4; 15:8; Gal. 3:16).
3. Read Genesis 12:1. Why would this have taken faith for Abraham to fulfil?
4. Based on Genesis 12:2-3, what promises did God make to Abraham?
This passage marks the foundation and the beginning of the Promises. The Lord would enlarge upon these foundational promises made to Abraham with further details.
5. Note how Abraham is described in Genesis 24:1. Some people have purely spiritualised the Promises of Godís Blessing to Abraham, claiming that the Promises of Blessing were only promises of salvation. Write down specifically what this fulfilment of the Promises meant to Abraham as it is recorded in Genesis 24:35-36 ~
6. The same Promises of Blessing were transferred to Isaac, Abrahamís son, who then transferred them to his son Jacob (Genesis 28:1-4). Note how Abraham and Jacob responded to Godís Promises of Blessing made to them ~
Abraham (Gen. 14:20) - _______________________________________________________________________________________________
Jacob (Gen. 28:20-22) - _______________________________________________________________________________________________
7. What do note about Galatians 3:9, 14, 29 how it affects us?
We have already seen that Abraham acknowledged God and His promise of blessing through the giving of tithes and offerings. But the Bible makes it clear what Abrahamís greatest response to God was. We live in such a logical, rational society, that what Abraham did seems almost totally foreign to us.
8. What was Abrahamís greatest response to God? (Genesis 15:6; Rom. 4:3, 18; Gal. 3:6)
When God spoke the promises of blessing to Abraham, he believed God. When you hear about the blessing of Abraham being yourís today, do you believe it or do you rationalise it to mean something else, or worse still: doubt that God could actually bless you with abundance? Yes the Promise of Blessing made to Abraham involved salvation, but it clearly involved more than that.
9. Return to Genesis 12:3 and see why God wanted to bless Abraham. Was it simply for Abrahamís sake?
We too are blessed to be a blessing.
The Bible makes it clear that Abraham was not perfect. He deceived King Abimelech about Sarah (Gen. 20:2). He did a similar thing earlier to Pharaoh in Genesis 12:13, 19. He doubted that God would literally give him and Sarah a son, so he conceived a son with Hagar (Gen. 16:1-2). Yet despite all this, God blessed him! There is hope for us too!
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© 2001 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania