By George W. DeHoff (Deceased)
Abraham is one of the greatest men who ever lived on earth. His life is discussed more completely and more fully than any other character in the Bible except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He was born in the Ur of the Chaldees near the north end of the Persian Gulf. It seems he was born when his father was 130 years old (Gen. 11:26, 32; 12:4; Acts 7:2-4). At the age of 75, he was called to leave his home and to go out to a new land. He was about 80 when he rescued Lot and met Melchizedek. He was 86 when Ishmael was born, 99 when Sodom was destroyed, and 100 when Isaac was born. When Abraham was 137 years old Sarah died. He was 160 when Jacob was born and he died at the age of 175—115 years before Jacob’s migration into Egypt.
When God called Abraham, He did not give him a reason for leaving his home—He did make certain promises to Abraham. He promised him that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan, that they should become a great nation and that through them all nations of the world would be blessed. This promise (Gen. 12:2-3; 22:18) is the foundation of the Scheme of Redemption. God first called Abraham in Ur (Acts 7:2-4; Gen. 11:31). He called him again when Abraham was in Haran (12:1-4). He called him again in Shechem (12:7) and in Bethel (13:14-17), twice in Hebron (15:5, 18; 17:1-8). This promise was repeated to Isaac (26:3-4) and also to Jacob (28:13-14; 35:11-12; 46:3-4).
Abraham was a believer in one God. He lived in a world of idolatry. His countrymen were idolaters. His father was an idolater (Jos. 24:2). From a youth, he believed in one God. God trusted in Abraham. He selected Abraham to be the founder of a new nation of people who would worship the true God and from whom the Christ would come. Haran was about 600 miles northwest of Ur and nearly 400 miles northeast of Canaan. This was Abraham’s first stopping place. He set out from Ur in search of a land where he could build a free nation. He did not know where he was going; God was leading him (Gen. 12:4-9; Heb. 11:8). Haran was already a well-settled region with roads to Babylon, Syria, Egypt, etc., along which caravans and armies constantly marched. After the death of Terah, his father, Abraham, under the call of God, moved on. Shechem was his first stopping place in Canaan. This is the center of the land in a lovely vale between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Soon he located at Bethel, 20 miles south of Shechem and 10 miles north of Jerusalem. This is one of the highest points in Canaan and gives a magnificent view in every direction. Abraham spent some time in Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20).
After returning to the land, he magnanimously gave Lot his choice of all the Land. Lot foolishly chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Abraham chose Hebron in the hill country of Palestine (Gen. 13).
Abraham, with 318 men of his own and some help by neighbors, made a midnight surprise attack on four famous Babylonian kings. He defeated their small armies (Gen. 14). One of these kings “Amraphael” is commonly identified as Hammurabi, the most famous of early Babylonian kings.
Abraham met Melchizedek (14:18-20) who was the king and priest of Salem (Jerusalem). Melchizedek, so far as his priesthood was concerned, was without father or mother, beginning of days or end of time. He was a type of Christ (Psa. 110; Heb. 5-7). God renewed His promises to Abraham in Genesis chapters 15, 16, and 17. Abraham is called the “friend of God” and “the father of the faithful.” All Christians are of the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29).
Abraham’s faith was tested by:
(1) Separation. God called him to go to a new home (Gen. 12:1-9; Acts 7:1-4).
(2) Famine (Gen. 12:1-20).
(3) Riches (Gen. 13).
(4) Power (Gen. 14).
(5) Delay. Waited many years for the birth of Isaac and the fulfillment of the promise which God had made to him.
Through all of these tests, Abraham was faithful to God. God blessed him. He reached the end of the journey looking forward to the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The trials of Abraham’s faith are the very same trials which most Christians have today.
- George W. DeHoff (Deceased); via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org