Why was Abraham called "the Friend of God"? (No. 35)
Abraham was the first person to teach the idea that there was only one God; Abram three promises: the promise of a relationship with God. Adam was the object of God's original covenant-relationship with humanity. Abraham also enters covenant relationship relationship with God, setting the stage. Bible verses for: Abraham's Relationship with God Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one.
Abraham is regarded as one of the giants of the faith, and one of the most prominent personalities in the Bible. Included in this number is the appearance of his name 67 times in the New Testament. This man is a giant of the faith, but that is not necessarily evident in the early days of his life, as we shall attempt to show. Here was a man who came to trust in God, rather than in himself, but it took considerable time and trouble to reach that point in his life. We are told that Abram was born in Ur Genesis Moses does not wish to emphasize this fact about Abram.
One other thing is clear from chapter The difference is that Jonah refused to go where God told him and went in the opposite direction. Abram was providentially brought part way to Canaan, though he seems passive in this, rather than acting out of obedience. One wonders if Abram was having some serious doubts as to what he should do after the death of Terah, his father. Should he return to Ur; should he remain in Haran; or, should he go on to Canaan, as God had commanded?
God removed all doubt as to the proper course of action when He reiterated the call. Abram seems not to have left his family as much as they Terah, at least left him by death.
One thing we can say with confidence — Lot was more trouble to Abram than he was help. The call of Abram was similar in its demands to that of marriage. You and I live in the Western world in a very mobile society, where family members live far apart. My brother lives miles away, in Washington State, as do our parents. One of my sisters lives in Singapore, and the other in Seoul, Korea. You were known and dealt with in relationship to your parents and your family.
This is one reason why there is so little teenage rebellion in the third world. Children know that to be removed from their family would destine them to powerlessness and poverty. By commanding Abram to leave homeland and family, he was forcing him to depend solely upon Himself. But I would like to emphasize that the Bible demonstrates the principle of progressive revelation.
Truth is seldom revealed all at one time and place see Ephesians 2: It is gradually unfolded, through time. We are not surprised to see that the line of the seed passes down through Seth to Noah, and then from Noah to Abram. The identity of the line of the promised Savior continues to narrow, until the introduction of Jesus as the Messiah in the Gospels. The principle of progressive revelation is very evident in the Book of Genesis, especially regarding the Abrahamic Covenant.
This covenant is introduced in Genesis There are personal promises made to Abram, as there are collective promises made concerning his offspring. In general terms, God promises Abram that He will give him many descendants, and that He will also give him the land of Canaan.
Abraham will be the touchstone for the blessing or cursing of all mankind. Those who bless Abram will be blessed, and those who curse him or esteem him lightly will be cursed. Genesis is a very skeletal, introductory promise.
The covenant will not be formally ratified until the sacrifice is offered in chapter 15, and Abraham does not receive the covenant sign of circumcision until chapter Abram is told that he will have many descendants in chapter 12, and we see in Genesis It is not until after the birth of Ishmael that Abram is told he and Sarah will be the parents of the promised child God progressively reveals His plans and purposes to Abram.
Because of this, we should expect the details of the Abrahamic Covenant to be disclosed progressively, over some period of time. This is precisely what happens. As the story of Abraham unfolds, more and more details concerning the promised blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant will be disclosed. As we continue our study in Genesis, we see the process through which God led Abram, so that he became a man of faith.
Once in Canaan, God assures Abram that this is the land He will give to him and to his descendants Genesis Abraham passed through the land of Canaan, from north to south, laying claim to it by building altars and worshipping God.
When Abram reached the Negev, the southern part of Canaan, he encountered a severe famine He concluded that he must leave the promised land, the place of blessing, and wait out the famine in Egypt. Given his attitude fear and his conduct lyingit is hard to believe that going to Egypt was an act of faith. It would seem that he was to trust God and to remain in Canaan, where God had promised to prosper him. This seems even more certain when we look at Genesis Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines at Gerar.Mysteries of the Bible - Abraham: One Man, One God
Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, and I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham.
The Test of Truthfulness Genesis He knows that a woman this beautiful would be highly desired, and that all that anyone who wanted her would have to do would be to kill him and take her. And so Abram and Sarai agree to a scheme that they will consistently practice for a number of years — they lie about her identity as his wife, and claim the half-truth that she was his sister. This plan had a very serious flaw; it gave interested men the idea that Sarai was available for marriage.
Abram was trusting in his deception, rather than in God, for life and prosperity. He put his wife at risk to save his own neck. In his mind, he had to go to Egypt to save his life, and he had to pass off Sarai as his sister for the same reason. Innocently, Pharaoh took Sarai into his harem and was soon to make her his wife. I can only imagine the sleepless nights that were in store for Abram.
He must have sat up wide-eyed every night, wondering what was going on between Pharaoh and Sarai. All the while, presents arrived from Pharaoh, part of the dowry he was paying for taking Sarai as his wife! God had plans for Abram and Sarai. They were to have a child, through whom many descendants would be born. God intervened by means of plagues that came upon Pharaoh and his house.
From chapter 20, we learn that every woman in the kingdom of Abimelech was made barren, thus assuring that no child would be born to Abimelech and Sarai.
Pharaoh got the message. It used to bother me a great deal that Abram came away from Egypt more prosperous than when he arrived. How could God bless Abram when he was acting in fear, and not in faith?
The first thing we must emphatically say is that we never really merit any of the blessings that God may shower upon us.
Joseph was brought down to Egypt from Canaan because of the sin of his brothers. Abram came from Canaan to Egypt out of fear and lack of faith.
God sent plagues upon Pharaoh and his household, so that Pharaoh would release Abram and his household and would send them away with many gifts. In the same way, God would later bring plagues upon Pharaoh and all Egypt, so that he would release the Israelites, and so that they would go out with many gifts. In order for this story to foreshadow the exodus of Israel from Egypt, Abram had to prosper at the expense of Pharaoh, just as the Israelites would later prosper at the hand of the Egyptians.
In chapter 13, Abram returns to Canaan from Egypt more prosperous than when he first arrived in Egypt. Lot prospered as well, and this led to conflict between his herdsmen and those of Abram Abram was instructed to leave his family and to come to Canaan.
What Abram was not willing to do before — separate from Lot — he had the perfect excuse to do now. It would have been the perfect time for Abram to tell Lot it was time for him to move on and find a life for himself, somewhere else.
Instead, Abram gives Lot the choice of which direction he will go, of which land he would prefer. We know that Lot chose what seemed to be the best land.
My wife and I have five daughters, and during the days they were living at home we found it necessary to divide their portions of food. No one agonized too much about who got the most potatoes, but when the apple pie was cut up, it was as though these girls worked for the Federal Bureau of Standards. They could instantly recognize a minute difference in size or quantity, and they always grabbed for the biggest piece. Well, truthfully, it would have been the second biggest piece because Jeannette had already held out the biggest piece for me.
Surely Lot walked away from that conversation with Abram with a broad smile on his face. But in so doing, he overlooked several important factors. First, he has chosen to go east Second, he has chosen to dwell in the city of Sodom, a wicked place. Third, he has neglected to act consistently with the Abrahamic Covenant.
God promised to bless all those who blessed Abram and to curse those who cursed him. To take advantage of Abram by choosing the best land was not blessing Abram. What seemed to be a shrewd business decision will soon prove to be a great disaster for Lot and for his family. Can you imagine the conversation that must have taken place between Abram and Sarai when Abram returned from his meeting with Lot?
The First Covenant
From what I read of Sarai in Genesis 16, this was a woman who could be really cranky. I can imagine that Abram came home and Sarai could not wait to ask how the dispute between their herdsmen was settled.
When Abram told Sarai that he had given Lot the best land, I have no doubt that she exploded. How could he be so foolish? He could he let Lot take advantage of him? Did Abram not care about his family and their needs? In these verses, God reaffirms His covenant with Abram and reassures him that he will be greatly blessed. God tells Abram to look in all directions, and assures him that the land will all be his, as far as he can see.
It will be given to Abram, and to his descendants, forever verses Abram is told to walk throughout the land, to take a good look at all that will be his. As he travels to these places, he symbolically claims this land as his own.
He will not possess it in his lifetime, but his descendants will. Abraham then moves his tents near to the oaks of Mamre, and there he builds yet another altar to the Lord verse Lot found himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between the king of Sodom and his allies and an alliance of opposing kings.
The king of Sodom suffered defeat, and the invading forces made off with many spoils of war, which included many of the people and possessions of Sodom, including Lot.
The Faith of Abraham
When word reached Abram, he went after the victors with of his servants They prevailed over the four kings and retrieved all the people and possessions that had been taken as spoils, including Lot. Before the king of Sodom reaches Abram, Melchizedek appears, as it were, out of nowhere. Melchizedek is a most interesting fellow, whose only appearance is here but who is the topic of later revelation Psalm Abram then paid a tithe to Melchizedek, and this king and priest disappears as quickly as he appears.
It would seem as though it were only moments later that the king of Sodom arrived. The king of Sodom was probably filled with words of praise and admiration.
He offered to allow Abram to keep all the spoils of his victory and requested only the return of his people. Abram refused any gifts from the king of Sodom, repeating some of the same words that Melchizedek had just spoken to him: His blessing must come from God.
Abram gave tithes to the king of Salem, but took no gifts from the king of Sodom. We should learn from this that the giving and receiving of money is a very significant matter in the Bible. It would seem that from a purely business point of view, Abram had made two very serious mistakes in chapters 13 and First, he had failed to claim the better land and had given it instead to Lot.
Second, he refused to accept gifts from the hand of a grateful king. But in so doing Abraham reveals that he has put his trust in God, and that he truly believes the promises of God expressed in the Abrahamic Covenant. No earthly king was going to take the credit for prospering Abram, thereby taking glory that belonged to God. Divine Affirmation and Clarification Genesis What was it that Abram feared? For one thing, he may very well have feared retaliation from the kings he had defeated.
After their victory, God warned the king of Israel that Ben Hadad would return the next year to retaliate against him. Ben Hadad restaged the battle man for man, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. He would not allow himself to think that he could be defeated. Abram may have expected the same retaliation from the kings he had defeated. He is painfully aware of the fact that he has not yet begotten a son, as God had promised.
God graciously and tenderly encourages Abram at this moment of fear. The One who could call stars without number into existence can surely call descendants for Abram into existence, without number.
God reckoned his faith not any works he had done as righteousness. God did not stop here; He went on to reassure Abram concerning the land that He would give to him, for this too was a part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Abram wanted assurance from God that He would indeed give him this land.
One would think that if Abram believed God for a son, he could also believe God for this land. God did not rebuke Abram; instead, God gave Him reassurance by formalizing his covenant. He had Abram kill a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon, dividing these in half, except for the birds As I understand what took place here, this was not a sacrifice of worship; indeed, it was not a sacrifice at all.
Abram even had to shoo the birds away, because they wanted to eat on the carcasses. This was the ritual by which men entered into covenant with each other. The parties entering into the covenant would cut the animals in two, and then both would apparently pass between the parts, signifying that the covenant was conditional, that it was binding only if both parties kept their commitments.
In this ritual, only God passed between the animal halves, signifying that this was an unconditional covenant, dependent only on His faithfulness. As God passed between the halves of the animals, He put Abram into a deep sleep, and in this sleep, he had a vision of what the future held for his descendants.
Abram had a deep sense of terror, not only due to his being in the presence of the Holy God, but perhaps also because of his vision of the suffering of his descendants. God assured Abram that his descendants would possess the land, but that this would not happen quickly.
They would first endure slavery and oppression in an unnamed foreign land for years, but afterward they would come out with many possessions. Abram was told that he would die before the promise of God was fulfilled, but his descendants would surely possess the land. The sins of the Amorites who presently occupied the land were not yet complete. God would give them time, but in this time, their sins would only increase.
After the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between the animal parts. Other than the covenant God made with Noah, this is the next time the word covenant is used. Technically, I suppose, we might call Genesis And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
There was no questioning and no wavering! He showed his faith by departing. This was a profound act of faith. The faith of Abraham continued After Abraham came into the land of Canaan, he continued to be a stranger and a pilgrim in that foreign land.
But he believed God, who had promised that one day he and his descendants would inherit that land. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.
Arise, walk in the land through its length and width, for I give it to you. We, too, live our lives as strangers and pilgrims on this earth, waiting with patience and faith for the Kingdom of God to be established on the earth, ruling from Jerusalem.
We, too, are sojourners, desiring a better heavenly country—a country that is coming in the future. Abraham must have believed that God had a very good reason for asking him to sacrifice Isaac, and that somehow Isaac would have to be raised from the dead to fulfill the promises God had made concerning him. We who are of the faith of Abraham must also believe that God can resurrect the dead. First of all, Abraham was justified by faith. God has ordained that all should be justified by faith.
That means we are declared blameless in His sight by the blood of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and by faith in God.
BBC - Religions - Judaism: Abraham
How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.
The gospel message came to Abraham We must remember that the promises of God given to Abraham are realized through faith. Abraham and his seed, his true descendants who have faith, will inherit the promises of God given to Abraham.
Abraham heard and believed in the gospel. This is a good example for us who hear the gospel today. We are blessed through the righteous Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ.