Abraham: Father of Faith
Christians across the spectrum know Abraham as “the father of faith.” This title is probably familiar to us, as we often hear it in Bible studies, even from youth. We are taught of Abraham’s great faith and righteousness, and to follow his example. However, perhaps not many of us know the reason (or at least the full picture) as to why he received this title. He is the 19th descendant of Adam, and the 10th descendant of Noah, from the line of Shem. In Genesis 12, God commands Abram to leave his father’s household and go to the land of Canaan. Abram did just as God commanded him, and set for Canaan—he was 75 years old at this time.
The Covenant with Abraham
In Genesis 15, Abram (later to be called Abraham) receives a vision from God, where God makes a covenant (promise) with him that he will have descendants so numerous that they cannot be counted (v. 5). And because Abram believed in this promise, he was considered righteous (v. 6). But the covenant does not end here. In verses 13-14, God says, 13 “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own.” Later, God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out. This promise was made before he had his son Isaac.
Abram’s wife Sarai was unable to bear him a child, so he had one through his maidservant Hagar at the age of 86—he named him Ismael. In Genesis 17, God renamed Abram to Abraham (meaning exalted father) because he was to be the father of many nations (v. 5). His wife Sarai was also renamed to Sarah (v. 15). Then God makes a covenant with him that Sarah will bear him a child, to be called Isaac (Gn 18: 17,19-20). At this time, he and Sarah were 100 and 90 years old, respectively. So upon hearing this, he fell facedown in what might potentially be the first biblical instance of “ROFL”.
Nevertheless, God kept his promise to him, and Sarah bore Isaac (Gn 21:2). From this point on, things get interesting because God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. The very next morning, Abraham set forth to Moriah with Isaac, where he was to be sacrificed. Now keep in mind that by this point, God had already promised him that he would be the father of many nations (Gn 17:4). But yet he is expected to sacrifice his only son, from whom these “many nations” were to come. Hebrews 11:11-12 and v. 17-19 explain the reason behind his great faith. He reasoned that for God to fulfill the promise He made to him, Isaac had to live. So regardless of whatever happened, one way or the other, Isaac would father many nations. Because of this, Abraham was ready to obey Gods command.
Abraham Believed the Promise
As he is about to sacrifice Isaac, God commands him to stop, and acknowledges his obedience. Abraham then sees a ram, and offers it as a sacrifice in place of Isaac. What is very important to take from this story is that Abraham’s faith was not without reason. It was not a blind faith, but rather faith based upon understanding. He believed in God’s promise, and because of this, he was able to act accordingly. We must also ask ourselves, is my faith based on understanding of God’s promises? Or other things such as feelings and emotions? I hope that his story can be a great example for all of us to grow in faith.