Abraham

Joshua 24:2; Genesis 12:1-3; Acts 7:4; Jeremiah 34:18-19; Genesis 15; Genesis 16; John 15:14-15; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23; Genesis 21; Galatians 4:22-23; Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:14-18; Galatians 3:29; Romans 4:16; Hebrews 11:9; Genesis 23; Genesis 24; Genesis 12-14; Genesis 15-21; Genesis 22-25
Son of Terah and grandson of Nahor, the seventh descendant from Shem. His name was at first ABRAM, “father of elevation”; but was altered by God into ABRAHAM, “father of a multitude.” In this name (Abraham) the blessing of the Gentiles is secured by God. The family dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees, and were idolaters (Jos. 24:22And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. (Joshua 24:2)). Abraham was the first to receive a definite call from God to leave not only the idolatrous nation to which his ancestors belonged, but to leave his kindred and his father’s house and to go into a land that God would show him. God would bless him and make him a blessing, and bless all who blessed him and would curse all who cursed him (Gen. 12:1-31Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: 2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1‑3)). He thus became the depositary of God’s promise and blessing. Abraham at first only partially obeyed the call: he left Ur and went to dwell at Haran, in Mesopotamia (Charran in Acts 7:44Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. (Acts 7:4)), but with his father and kindred; and did not enter Canaan until the death of his father. When in the land, God promised that unto his seed He would give the land. Abraham built an altar, and called upon the name of Jehovah. A famine occurring in the land, Abraham went to sojourn in Egypt, and for want of faith he called Sarai his sister and she was taken into the house of Pharaoh, but the Lord protected her, and Abraham with his wife was sent away with a rebuke. When near Bethel he could again call on the name of the Lord. He had now become so rich in cattle that disputes arose between his herdmen and those of Lot, and Abraham asked Lot to choose where he would sojourn, if he went to the right Abraham would go to the left; and they separated. Again Jehovah declared that as far as Abraham’s eye could reach in all directions the land should belong to his seed.
The next recorded event is that Lot was taken prisoner and carried to the north. Abraham pursued the enemy and recovered all. He refused to take even a thread of the spoil from the king of Sodom: he would not be made rich from such a source; but he was blessed by Melchisedec, king of Salem, the priest of the most high God, who brought forth bread and wine: to whom Abraham gave tenths of all. See MELCHISEDEC. God now revealed Himself to Abraham as His shield and exceeding great reward.
When Abraham lamented to God that he had no son, God declared that he should have a son, and that his seed should be as the stars of the heaven for multitude. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. This is the first time that faith is spoken of. Still he asked whereby should he know that his seed should possess the land, and was told to take a heifer, a she goat, and a ram, all of three years old, a turtle dove and a young pigeon. These he divided in the midst, except the birds, and laid them one against another. When the sun went down a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces: type of the fire that consumes the dross, and a light for the path. The same day God made a covenant with Abraham that to his seed should the land be given from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates (compare Jer. 34:18-1918And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof, 19The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf; (Jeremiah 34:18‑19)): it had been ratified in death, a type of Christ. When Abraham had fallen into a deep sleep, he was informed that his seed should be in a strange land, and be afflicted 400 years (Genesis 15). See ISRAEL IN EGYPT.
Abraham had believed that God would give him a son, but now he waits not God’s time, and at Sarai’s suggestion he associates with Hagar, a bondmaid, and Ishmael is born (Gen. 16) — a figure of the law, that is, man’s attempt to possess the blessing by his own effort.
God now reveals Himself to Abraham as the “Almighty God,” a name which signifies that all resource is in God Himself. God “talked with him,” and made a covenant with him according to that name. It is now that his name is changed from Abram, because he was to be a father of many nations. Abraham was to walk before the Almighty God and be perfect, and was to keep the covenant by having all the males circumcised (a figure of no confidence in the flesh), which he at once put into practice. Sarai’s name was altered to Sarah, for she was to be a princess, and should have a son.
Abraham’s faith again fails him and at Gerar he once more calls Sarah his sister, which might have led to sin had not God protected her, and Abraham is again rebuked.
Isaac is born, and conflict ensues between that which is a type of the flesh and the Spirit: Hagar and her son Ishmael are cast out (Gen. 21; compare Gal. 4:22-2322For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (Galatians 4:22‑23)). God then tried the faith of Abraham by telling him to offer up his son Isaac for a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed, and, but for the intervention of the angel of the Lord, would have killed his son, believing “that God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” After the death and resurrection in figure of Isaac, the unconditional promise is confirmed to Abraham that in his seed — which is Christ — should all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22:1818And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18); Gal. 3:14-1814That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:14‑18)). If any are Christ’s, they are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise (Gal. 3:2929And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)). The promise is sure to all the seed, “not only to that which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom. 4:1616Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:16)).
Abraham was by faith so much a stranger (Heb. 11:99By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (Hebrews 11:9)) that, on the death of Sarah, he had to buy a piece of ground of the children of Heth, to secure a sepulcher in the land (Gen. 23). He was so careful that Isaac should not marry one of the daughters of the Canaanites that he sent his servant (Eliezer perhaps) to his own kindred to seek a bride for Isaac, being convinced that God would send His angel and prosper the mission, which resulted in Rebecca being the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24).
Abraham had another wife, Keturah, and concubines by whom he had sons; but to these he gave gifts and sent them eastward, so that Isaac and his seed might peacefully dwell in the promised land. Abraham died at the age of 175, and was buried with Sarah.
The history of Abraham in Genesis divides itself into three parts:
Gen. 12-14, his public walk and testimony, as called of God.
Gen. 15-21, his private and domestic history with God, illustrating the growth of soul.
Gen. 22-25. give in type a prophetical outline of events: namely, the sacrifice of Christ; the setting aside of Israel for a time; the call of the bride; and the final settlement of the nations in blessing in the end of the days.
The nation of Israel was descended from Abraham, and we know how zealously they contended for the relationship, though alas, they had not and have not the same faith. Still the land was given to them, and when God’s set time comes they will surely be brought back to their “fatherland” and after trial and discipline will be blessed therein.
Abraham being the father of Ishmael and the other sons sent into the East it is not to be wondered at that he is a personage of universal fame in that immense quarter of the world, and that there are numerous traditions concerning him. It can hardly be doubted that their relationship to Abraham will yet be found in their favor during the millennium when the promise that his seed should be “as the sand of the sea shore” will have its fulfillment.
To the Christian the life of this patriarch is worthy of the deepest attention, in view of, the varied manifestations whereby God revealed Himself to him, whether in the formation of his character under those manifestations, or in the Christian’s connections with him in the way of faith, or with respect to the unconditional promises made to him as to the possession of the land of Palestine both in the past and in the future.