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Abraham of chaldea

Abraham of Chaldea

Abraham : From the Bible

The following is a narrative description on the life and times of

one of the most powerful characters in the Old Testament.

Abraham was indeed a man of God in a time where few men believed

in the One true God. Through many triumphs and errors, he always

returned to God to lead him back to his calling. His dedication

resulted in great promises from God that were eventually

fulfilled and affect each of our lives today. His story is our

story.

Abraham was a native of Chaldea, and a ninth generation

descendant of Shem, the son of Noah. He was born on the southern

tip of the Tigris and Uuphrates rivers in the city of Ur around

2161BC.1 Before his name was changed to Abraham, his name was

Abram. When Abram was about seventy years of age he moved with

his family to live in Haran. The reason he moved was because

"The God of glory appeared to our father Abram when he was in

Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, "Depart

from your country and your relatives, and come into the land

that I will show you." 2

While in Haran, Abram's father died and God spoke to him again

saying, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and

from your father's house, to the land which I will show you." 3

He obeyed and left Haran with his brother Nahor's family and his

Nephew Lot without really knowing where he was going. At this

time, God did not reveal to him he was going to Canaan. God only

told him "the land which I will show you." 4 When he did arrive

in Canaan, he camped in the plains of Moreh, between the

mountains of Ebal and Cerizim. It was here he was given the

second promise from God that his seed would possess this land.

Abram built "an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him"

5 He then moved to the mountainous district between Bethel and

Ai. Here, he built another altar to Jehovah.

Throughout the story of Abram, he consistently went back to

Bethel to make amends with God. All of God's children should

have a similar alter they should go to when praising God. This

could be the front of your church, but should be in public. 6

Archeo logy has since proved that Bethel is the modern village of

Baytin. 7 When in this area, a famine struck forcing Abram to

move southward toward Egypt. God talked to Abram on the mountain

East of Bethel where he built an alter unto the Lord. Each

person should have their own personal alter to go before God,

this should also be done in public.

When he did get to Egypt, Abram told his first recorded lie.

Because his wife Sarah was beautiful, he feared she would lusted

by after the Egyptians and endanger his life. He also knew the

Pharaoh was also concerned of Abram's presence along with other

Hyksos in the region. 8 Abram persuaded Sarah to pass herself

off as his sister. This lie could probably be considered a

lighter shade of gray considering Sarah was his half sister,

having the same father but a different mother. 9 When the

Egyptians saw how beautiful she was, they took her to Pharaoh's

harem. As a consequence, God plagued Pharaoh & his house. When

the Pharaoh found out Sarah was Abram's wife, he sent him and his

clan out of Egypt to fend for themselves in the famished land.

Because Abram told this lie, God allowed this to happen. Abram

went out of Egypt and returned to Bethel the second time to call

on the name of the Lord. While in Bethel, both Lot's and Abram's

livestock could not be supported by the land, and strife began

between their herdsmen. Abram gave Lot his first choice of where

he wanted to settle. Instead of choosing the unknown territory

toward Canaan, Lot chose the easy way out and went East to Jordan

near the populated city of Sodom. The motif of scripture for

this story is simple. Abram gave more than he took. He let Lot

take what he wanted and left it to God to bless him with what was

left. Lot's mistake was he stopped growing in God's faith and

stagnated. He soon found out that everything is not as it seem

s. If one only takes, but does not give, it soon gets them into

trouble. On the other hand, Abram was rewarded with a third

blessing for his faith. God reiterated His promise to give him

the land of Canaan and a posterity as numerous as the dust of the

earth. So Abram moved his clan and camped near Hebron where he

built another altar to Jehovah.

In the mean time, Lot got himself in the middle of a war between

rivaling Babylonian kings in the area. As a result, the kings of

Sodom and Gomorrah fell and their cities were spoiled. Lot and

his goods were also carried off. When Abram heard of this, he

immediately armed his dependents, 318 men, and some of his

neighbors. They overtook and defeated the kings at Dan, near the

springs of Jordan. To accomplish this, Abram must have been a

military genius. After Abram freed Lot, you would think he would

have learnt his lesson, but he returned with his family to live

in Sodom.

When Abram was returning, the king of Sodom came out to meet him

at the King's Valley along with Melchizedek, king of Salem and

"priest of the most high God." 10 Melchizedek brought him bread

and wine, and blessed him by saying, "Blessed

be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine

enemies into thy hand." 11 Hebrew tradition says that

Melchizedek was Shem, son of Noah and survivor of the flood This

tradidion believes he was still alive at the time and the earth's

oldest living man. Others think that Melchizedek was an Angel or

the Messiah himself. 12 In return, Abram presented Melchizedek a

tenth of all he had. This is the first mention of tithing, and

is still used as a guideline today. The king of Sodom attempted

to give Abram the spoils of the war, but he refused. Abram told

the king, "I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, maker of

heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal-

thong or your, lest you should say, "I have made Abram rich." I

will take nothing but what the young men have eaten." 13

After this episode, The Lord rewarded Abram for his faithfulness

and came to him in a vision. God said, "Fear not, Abram, I am

thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." 14 In response,

Abram asked how this could be since he did not have any children.

God proceeded to encourage Abram through a distinct and detailed

repetition of former promises He had made and by a solemn

covenant contracted between himself and God. God told him his

seed should be as numerous as the stars of heaven, that his

posterity should grow up into a nation under foreign bondage, and

that after four hundred years they should come up and possess the

land in which he sojourned.

After living in Canaan for ten years, Sarai went to Abram and

said, " The Lord has prevented me from bearing children." 15 As

she was seventy-five years of age, she followed contemporary

custom and allowed Abram to impregnate Hagar, 16

her Egyptian handmaid. After this, Sarai got jealous of Hargar

and told Abram that Hargar was looking at her with contempt.

Abram told Sarai that Hargar was under her authority, and she

could to with her as she pleased. Sarai subsequently dealt so

harshly with Hagar that she fled. But an angel of the Lord

appeared to her in the wilderness and convinced her to return to

Sarai and submit herself to her. The angel told her she was

pregnant and would give birth to a son who would greatly multiply

her descendants. The angel told her to call the name of this

child Ishmael.

Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God appeared

to him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to

Sarah. In a token to consummate the covenant, God commanded that

Abraham, all males of his tribe and male descendants of his be

circumcised. God also renewed his covenant to Abraham through

the angles by assured him that Sarah, then ninety years old,

would bear a child from his loins. Abraham laughed at this and

questioned how an old man like himself could impregnate a 90 year

old woman. Abraham said, "O that Ishmael might live in thy

sight!" 17 God assured him Ishmael would make him fruitful also

and make a great nation of him. But God told him that Sarah

would indeed bear him a son and he should call his name Isaac.

God said he would establish a covenant with Isaac and all his

descendants. After this meeting with conversation with God,

Abraham obeyed him and all males were circumcised.

After this covenant, Abraham was visited by three travelers. One

of these travelers was the "Angel of Jehovah" and two others were

attending angels. 18 These angels proceeded to reiterate to

Abraham the promise of a son by Sarah. Sarah was listening at

the tent door and laughed to herself thinking of how preposterous

it was for a woman and man of their age to actually have sex, let

alone for her to conceive a child. The angels knew of this

laughter and asked why she had done so. Sarah denied it, but the

Lord said through the angels "No, but you did laugh." 19 These

angels then left and set out toward Sodom. As Abraham was

walking with them for a part of the way, God chose to disclose to

him the destruction he had in mind for Sodom and Gomorrah. At

this time, God allowed Abraham to negotiated with Him over

destroying the cities if any righteous people were found living

their. As it was, no righteous people lived in these cities, not

even Lot and his family. The next morning, Abraham got up early

in the morning and saw the fate of the cities as smoke rose "up

as the smoke of a furnace. 20 When Abraham was one hundred years

old, and Sarah ninety, Isaac was born. Abraham circumcised Isaac

when he was eight days old as commanded. Subsequently, during a

feast on the day Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael and Hagar

mocking her. This infuriated her so much that she insisted to

Abraham they be sent away. Abraham reluctantly consented after

God told him that not only would his descendants be numerous

through Isaac, but also Ishmael. Abraham gave Hagar bread and

water and sent her off. God subsequently kept Hagar from leaving

Ishmael to die when all food and water was gone. An angel of

God called to her from heaven and told her a great nation would

rise from Ishmael. This great nation would be the Arabs. God

opened her eyes and she saw a well of water and gave her son a

drink. Ishmael eventually grew up in the wilderness of Paran,

and became an expert archer. The dispute of who received the

promise of Canaan, Isaac or Ishmael, still broils the hatred

between the Jews and Arabs today. The Jews believe Isaac was

given the promise of Canaan, and the Arabs believe Ishmael

inherited this promise.

After this, God tested Abraham by commanding him to go to Mt.

Moriah and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. This was a great test

of Abraham's faith, because Isaac's death would nullify all the

promises God gave to Abraham concerning Isaac. Abraham probably

decided to obey, because "he considered that God is able to raise

men even from the dead." 21 Abraham rose early in the morning,

cut wood for the burnt offering, and set off for the mountains

near Moriah with two of his servants and Isaac. On the third

day of their journey, Abraham saw the place God told him to go

to. He told his servants he and his son would go on without them

to worship and then return. When Isaac asked Abraham where was

the lamb for the burnt offering, Abraham told him that God would

provide the lamb Himself. Abraham proceeded to build the altar

and secured on top of it. As he was about to slay Isaac with a

knife, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said,

" Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the lad, for now I

know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son

from me." 22 Abraham stopped, looked up, and saw a ram caught

in a thicket by his horns. He took the ram, and offered it up as

a burnt offering instead of his son. This test of Abraham 's

faith is a Type of Christ. This is because Abraham can be

considered like God when he was willing to sacrificed his only

son on the cross. Also, Isaac was a young man as was Jesus and

adult Ram was offered in Isaac's place. Abraham called the name

of this sacrificial place "The Lord Will Provide." 23 After

this, the angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time and

said, "Because you have done this, I will indeed bless you. I

will Multiply you descendants as the stars of heaven and as the

sand on the seashore. They shall possess the gate of their

enemies, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by

them, because you have obeyed my voice.". After this event,

Abraham returned to his servants and with them went to Beer-sheba

where Abraha m dwelt. 24

The next event recorded in Abraham's life is the death of Sarah

at 127 years of age. She died near Hebron in the land of Canaan.

Abraham buried her in a cave he cleverly purchased from the

Hittites n the field of Machpelah.

The next significant act of Abraham was to procure a suitable

wife for Isaac. He commanded his eldest servant to go to Haran,

where Abraham's brother Nahor lived to get Isaac's wife. The

servant went to Haran with many camels and gifts. When he got to

Haran, he made the camels kneel down by a well during the

evening. He did this because he knew the women of the city would

come out at that time to get water from the well. He then prayed

to the Lord, "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me success

today, I pray thee, and show steadfast love to my master, I am

standing by the spring, and the daughters of the city are coming

out to draw water. Let the maiden to whom I shall say, "Pray let

down your jar that I may drink, "and who shall say, "Drink, a nd

I will water your camels"--let her be the one whom thou hast

appointed for thy servant Isaac". 25 Before he had finished this

prayer, Rebekah, a beautiful virgin, and granddaughter of Nahor,

came out with her water jar upon her shoulder. When she had

filled her jar with water, the servant ran to meet her and asked

her for a drink. Rebekah quickly let down her jar and told him

she would draw water for his camels also. After the camels

finished drinking, the servant gave her gold ring and two

bracelets and asked her who her father was. Rebekah said she was

the daughter of Nahor and ran to show her family the jewelry.

After some convincing by the servant who told the family it was

God's will for Rebekah to return with him, they let her go. She

returned with the servant and married Isaac.

Abraham died when he was 175 years old and was buried by Isaac

and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah around 1986 BC with his wife

Sarah. After Abraham's death, God blessed Isaac as promised.

SUMMARY

Abraham was truly a man of God. Although he still had his human

frailties, he ultimately trusted in God and always came back to

Him for forgiveness and guidance. His spiritual experience with

God was indicative of four specific areas in which his faith was

tested. First, he gave up his country and kindred; second, he

broke off with his nephew, Lot; thirdly, he abandoned his plans

for Ishmael to be his hope for his ultimate heritage, and fourth,

he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. 26 In the end, God

rewarded Abraham by fulfilling the four great promises He made to

him: 1) Great nations would come from him. 2) God would bless

and prosper him. 3) Sarah would give him a child named Isaac.

4) His generations would produce the savior of the world, Jesus

Christ.

Praise God for the lessons he has given us through the life of

Abraham. I stand in awe thinking that not only will I be able to

meet Abraham in heaven, but also our Lord who guided him

throughout.

BIBLIOGRRAPHY

* J. A. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology (Wm. B. Eerdmands

Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan)

* Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook, 1951

* National Geographic Society, Everyday Life in Bible Times

* Samuel J. Schultz, The Old Testament Speaks (Harper & Row,

Publishers)

* John H. Tullock, The Old Testament Story (Prentice-Hall, Inc.)

* The Reader's Digest Bible Illustrated Edition (Reader's Digest

Associated Limited)

* The Holy Bible, King James Version (The World Publishing

Company)

* The New Ungers's Bible Dictionary (Moody Press)

1 Ungers, pg. 12

2 King James, Acts 7:2-3

3 King James, Gen. 12:1

4 King James, Gen. 12:1

5 King James, Gen. 12:6-7

6 Class Lecture, Jon Randles

7 Everyday life in Bible Times, pg. 89

8 Class Lecture, Jon Randles

9 King James, Gen. 20:12

10 King James, Gen. 14:17

11 King James, Gen. 14:19-20

12 Halley, pg. 95

13 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 35

14 King James, 15:1

15 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 35

16 Unger's, pg. 13

17 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 36

18 Unger's, pg. 13

19 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 37

20 King James, Gen. 19:28

21 Heb. 11:19

22 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 40

23 Unger's, pg. 14

24 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 40

25 Reader's Digest Bible, pg. 40-41

26 Ungers's, pg. 14

Word Count: 3207



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