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Abraham - the First Believer

2 May, 20102 May, 2010 0 comments Bible characters Bible characters

When one compares the brief 14 chapters of The Bible that relates the story of Abraham with the enormity of his legacy as the founder of the three great monotheistic religions, the contrast is quite startling. The story is not even a complete narrative of the Patriarch's life, but begins when God calls to him at the age of 75, commanding him to leave Haran, the place of his birth and his ancestors, and to set out for an alien land that God promises to him and his progeny.


We must ask ourselves, were we in the same position, would we so seriously regard the beckoning of a presumably celestial voice as to have ventured into an unknown wilderness at such an advanced age? While for most of us the answer would be no, Abraham abides this order seemingly without a second thought. This is doubtless the aspect of his personality that makes him an ideal candidate as the bearer of a holy covenant between God and man: an unshakable faith in the voice that was guiding him and the promises that it made.


Perhaps the story of Abraham and the trials he faced in foreign lands reveals less about the patriarch than it does about God, and the nature of His covenants with men. If we look at Abraham's narrative in this way, we can assemble a kind of rubric of the founding principles of faith and covenant. First, in order to have God's promises fulfilled, one must be willing to believe in such promises.


God's promise to make many nations of Abraham and his offspring numerous like the stars must have seemed unimaginable to an elderly man whose wife, Sarah, was both barren and well past her child-bearing years. Yet Abraham's belief in this promise can be seen as his first act of faith, the willingness to suspend his disbelief and trust in a force that claimed to make the impossible possible. Indeed, his belief is so strong that it is translated into action, a second act of faith symbolized by Abraham's sojourn to the land of Canaan. Belief and action based on belief become the basis of God's covenant with Abraham.


Certainly, Abraham's most harrowing test of faith is God's command that he should sacrifice his son Isaac to him. This must have seemed cruel to Abraham, as Isaac, his son with Sarah, was doubtless considered the fruition and reward of his great faith. But again, Abraham heeds the will of the voice, and takes his son to the alter at Mt. Moriah. Seeing Abraham's readiness to give his most cherished son, God prevents him from making the sacrifice, and Abraham is for the third and final time presented with the covenant.


"In thy seed shall the all nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice"[Genesis 12:18]. Here, we can perceive the link between covenant and promise. Promises are fulfilled only when man has abided by his faith. In these lines we also see the legacy of Abraham come to life, in which all people of the world are impacted by his seemingly limitless belief.


This article was written by Chaya Ben Rozen and first appeared in Eastory.

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