Abraham, a true friend of God. My friend too!

"Count the stars, Abraham. That's the number of your descendants!"
“Count the stars, Abraham. That’s the number of your descendants!”

My name is Abidah. Believe it or not, I have been a servant of Abraham for over 100 years now. No one has been with Abraham as long as I have been, not even his wife Sarah.

He was a wealthy, wealthy man. Always has been as long as I’ve worked for him. He hired me when we left Haran. I was number 1 of 318 servants. It was a joy to serve this great, great man.  You know, he had more sheep and cattle and camels than anyone in the entire region, maybe more than anyone on earth. Of all his possessions, he truly cherished one thing more than anything else: the gift of his son Isaac.

He made sure everyone knew that God made a promise to him. The promise went like this: God said “I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous, you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” Abraham always told us stories of his personal encounters with God. I don’t know anyone who knew God like Abraham knew God. And everywhere we went, he built an altar to the Almighty.

Yet, early on, while Abram owned many things, I would hear him arguing with God. “What good are all these things if I don’t have any children to pass them down to?” he’d say shaking a fist at the heavens.  And I’d say Abram had every right to question God’s promises, as he was an old man, and Sarai’s womb was closed.

One night, the Almighty took Abram outside and said to the man: “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” And the man believed. He believed God. And because he believed, God called him his friend. My master? A true friend of God! Amazing!

Yet even though he was God’s friend, Abram’s troubles didn’t magically cease. Ten years after we left the Land of Ur, Abram and Sarai were still childless. They decided God might need man’s help in bringing to fruition all these “star children.” So Abram slept with the much younger, and much more beautiful Hagar, Sarai’s servant. It was Sarai’s suggestion. Can you believe it? And Hagar gave birth to a son. They called him Ishmael.  But God wasn’t too pleased and Ishmael caused more problems than Abram ever dreamed of. Even though he sinned, Abram still had this tight relationship with the Father.

Thirteen years later Abram is out tending the sheep when God shows up in power. The way Abram tells the story, one more time God reminds the man of the Almighty’s promises and tells him that he’ll have a huge family. Abram says he fell flat on his face. The next day he announces that we are all to start calling him Abraham. No longer is he merely “Father,” he is “Father of Many Fathers.” We joked with him, because by this time he was 99 years old! And Sarai, who we were to now call Sarah, was 90!

While we laughed, something about Abraham changed. He set a covenant between God and himself… and all of us male servants were dedicated to God that very day!

And just as God promised, about a year later, little Isaac was born. Isaac. The name means “laughter.” And we all laughed with his new parents, for they were so old.

While this was a joyous time, it wasn’t the end of Abraham’s struggles… but he remained faithful to God. Oh so faithful. No one in all the land was as faithful as this man. Sarah died some 27 years later.  And that old man? He passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 175. He lived a long, joyful life! We just came back from burying him next to Sarah in the land of the Hittites. He has seven children. 13 grandchildren so far. All those star children are just getting started!

Abraham. The father of many fathers. A friend of God. He was my master and my dear friend as well.

 

My interpretation of some of the key points of Genesis, Chapters 12-25, the life of Abraham.

(c)2015. Rich Ronald.

Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Isaac

Isaac was almost the Bible’s first human sacrifice. But God honored his father’s faith and all of Israel was spared.

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

The next in the line of the three great fathers of the Hebrew faith is Isaac… son of Abraham and Sarah.  Named Isaac, which means “laughter,” because the two were so old when they conceived.

Now the Word says in Genesis 22 that God chose to test Abraham.  God told him to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.  Are you kidding me?  What kind of God would ask a man to do that?  As we learned, Abraham was a trusting man. He believed that God knew what He was doing. And God did…

I’ve often been curious about this story.

They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. (Genesis 22:9-10, The Message).

Of course, an angel stops him and God provides a ram, stuck in the thicket, for the sacrifice.  Abraham trusted. God delivered. Blow the shofar! This story is where the ram’s horn originates and I’m guessing Isaac might have given it a blast or two with a huge smile on his face since his life was spared.  And in his place, a sacrifice. A ram. A lamb? Jesus again? Yes, another example of our Messiah in the Old Testament!

Continue reading “Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Isaac”

Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Abraham

A devotional look at eleven Biblical dads and what we can learn from them.

Abraham was called “Friend of God.” You too are God’s friend!

The story of Abraham begins at the end of Genesis 11.  He was the son of Terah, who Scripture tells us was at a minimum an idol worshipper, possibly a man who made his living as an idol maker. He lived in Ur, a thriving metropolis, a place full of the excitement of a city.  And it is on this stage where we hear God’s call.

Genesis 12:1-3 (The Message):

God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.

 I’ll make you a great nation 

      and bless you. 

   I’ll make you famous; 

      you’ll be a blessing. 

   I’ll bless those who bless you; 

      those who curse you I’ll curse. 

   All the families of the Earth 

      will be blessed through you.”

 And then, verse 4: “So Abram went.”

Just like that.  He left the only city he ever knew.  He took his things and his wife and left.  And he journeyed through the wildernesses of the land of Canaan.

And next, verse 7:

God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.

First, have you noticed that Abram, and a lot of the people of the Old Testament, built altars to God… to worship Him… to acknowledge that God moved supernaturally in their life at a certain point? I believe it is important to remember to do that regularly. If we do nothing else when we go to a church building on Sunday morning, my prayer is that the time spent there is a time of remembering and thanksgiving — worship!

Continue reading “Lessons from the Fathers’ Hearts: Abraham”