As I thought about this second in the series of lessons from our Patriarchs, I could not easily make up my mind who to take next. We are so blessed in this generation to have the benefit of hindsight, looking back at how the Patriarchs lived the examples we can learn from them. Eventually, I had to settle for one person, Abraham. If there is one man whose life challenges me in the Bible, it is Abraham.
Although the Old Testament records only one instance of the call of Abraham, the New Testament records two calls. The first call was before his father Terah died. In fact, the movement from Ur had begun before the death of his father. The second call came after his father died. (Acts 7: 2-4)
God in His infinite wisdom chose Abraham. We were not told why He chose him but evidently Abraham possessed all that God needed for the kind of man who would become the ‘Father of many nations’.
There is no record of Abraham’s family worshipping God before the time of his call by God. Stephen, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘..The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran’ (Acts 7:2) God appeared in a glorious manner which left Abraham with little or no doubt about who God is. From that moment on, there was no going back.
For Abraham, ‘Go’ meant go. There was no rationalization. He simply obeyed. How many times do we rationalize biblical principles today? We debate about so many things which has caused so much division in the body of Christ today. How strong and powerful the body of Christ would be today if we would only learn to simply obey!
Abraham was a caring and supportive man. Although many commentators believe that Abraham’s obedience was not total because he took Lot with him, this simply showed that he was an uncle who cared so much for his nephew.
In Gen 14, Some Kings marched on Sodom and Gomorrah, and after defeating the country, captured the people and took them away. On hearing this, Abraham gathered his men and pursued after the invaders, defeated them and recovered his nephew. Today’s man would rationalize and say, ‘Oh! he made the choice of Sodom, so let him live with it’. Not so with Abraham, it was never recorded that he felt slighted that Lot made the choice of a greener land, leaving him with what resembled a barren desert.
Abraham was a giver. He had so much goods and possessions but never held tightly to them. He was always eager to give to others whenever he had the opportunity. After the recovery of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah from the hands of the invaders, the King of Sodom came to Abraham and with gratitude, asked him to keep the goods but release the people to him. Abraham responded, ‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ (Gen 14:22-23)
From this statement, we see a side of Abraham that is totally dependent on God. He did not want the King of Sodom to take glory for making him rich. He had therefore made up his mind that he would not so much as touch any of the goods recovered from the battle to recover the people of Sodom.
Where are the Abrahams of our days? I wonder what Abraham would see if he were to visit our churches today and see many people coming to church with empty stomachs, while others live in affluence and abundance. Where is that love for one another that Jesus preached? How many people have we reached out to with our material things?
(To be continued)