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Abraham, Man Of Faith
by Wayne Blank
"The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abram obediently left for Canaan (today Israel) with his family, including his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) and his nephew Lot. He traveled down through the land, Shechem, Bethel, Ai, and right south toward the Negev. During that time The Lord appeared to him and told him that, "To your offspring I will give this land." (Genesis 12:7).
Many significant (for Abram, and us) events of Bible History followed - his time in Egypt to escape the famine in the land, the birth of his son Ishmael (through whom the Arab nations of today count their ancestry to him) by Hagar, the covenant of circumcision when he was 99, God's changing of his name to Abraham, The Destruction Of Sodom (where Lot and his wife and daughters had went to live), and the birth of Isaac (through whom the Jews of today count their ancestry to Abraham). It was Isaac's descendants who were to inherit the land of Canaan (Israel). See Division Of The Land.
An interesting point about Abraham is that although all bloodline Jews of today are descended from him, Abraham himself was not a Jew! Abraham's son Isaac, had a son Jacob (who was renamed Israel), who had 12 sons (from whom came The Tribes Of Israel), one of which was Judah, from whom came the Jews. The first "Jew" was Judah, Abraham's great-grandson (see The Chosen People). Both Jews and Arabs are equally descended from Abraham, but Abraham himself was neither "Jew" nor "Arab". Many fierce Middle East wars have since been fought between Abraham's children, right to the present time.
The greatest test of Abraham came when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. Despite the grief and horror that he must have been experiencing, Abraham was actually about to go through with it before being stopped by God (the event occurred on what was then barren Mount Moriah - today, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where sits The Dome of The Rock). God said to him, "I swear by Myself, declares The Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (see A Picture Of Heaven) and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me." (Genesis 22:16-18). Isaac was released unharmed.
Abraham lived a good long life. After he died, he was buried in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre that he had purchased to bury his wife Sarah, who had died before him. Later, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah were all buried in the same place, known today as the "Tomb of Patriarchs" in Hebron - a place where many bloody confrontations between Abraham's children, Jew and Arab, have taken place - within a few yards/meters of Abraham's grave. I wonder what he would think of that? Or, what he would say to them if he were to one day awaken and walk outside?
Fact Finder: Did the apostle Paul refer to Abraham, because of his faith, as the "father of us all"?