Doctrine of Abraham

July 21, 2010

Doctrine of Abraham

I. His first call and trip to Haran, Genesis 11
1.    Abram was from Ur in Mesopotamia. He was born about 2165 BC and lived during the Neo-Sumerian period. His father was Terah; his brothers were Nahor and Haran. Abram lived in Ur when God called him to Canaan (Genesis 11.26-31; Luke 3.34; Acts 7.2-4).
a.    Ur was a great and prosperous city, the capitol of Sumer. Sumer was the southern half of Iraq, from Bagdad south; Akkad was the northern half. Ur was on the west bank of the Euphrates where it once had emptied into the Persian Gulf. Ur used to be a maritime city and port of Babylonia. The god of the city was Nanna, the moon god. The kings took the title of “king of Sumer and Akkad.” People abandoned Ur about 500 BC.
2.    God apparently revealed his plan for redemption of the human race to Abram while he was in Ur. Abram believed God–that God would redeem him–and so God imputed righteousness to him and justified him (Genesis 15.6; Acts 7.2; Romans 4.1-3, 9-12; Galatians 3.6,8).
3.    Abram left Ur with his family for Canaan. They stopped in Haran and remained there for many years. Haran was about 600 miles northwest of Ur (Genesis 11.31-32; Acts 7.4).
4.    Abram was looking for a new God-built heavenly city (Hebrews 11.10,16) . He kept looking through his eyes of faith, but never saw the city (Hebrews 11.13). God has still not revealed this city, new Jerusalem, to believers. That is yet future (Hebrews 12.22; 13.14; Revelation 21.2,10).
5.    God began the Hebrew race and future nation with Abram. The humanity of Christ came from this lineage (Nehemiah 9.7; Isaiah 51.2; Matthew 1.1; Luke 16.30; Acts 3.13).
II. His second call; he leaves Haran and settles in Canaan, Genesis 12-15
6.    God spoke to Abram while he was in Haran. He promised Abram a seed, land, and blessing–the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12.1-3). The specific seed of this covenant was the future heir, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3.16). This covenant was restated in Genesis 13.15-16; 15.4-5; 17.1-8; 18.17-18; 22.16-18. There are other mentions of it including Psalm 105.8-11; Jesus, Stephen, and Paul refer to it (John 8.56; Acts 7.17; Romans 4.13; Galatians 3.8).
a.    God promised Abram’s future nation a homeland, a king, and prosperity under her king. God later chose Moses, then Joshua, both distant grandsons of Abram, to transform the leaderless Hebrews into a nation through which God would accomplish his earthly purpose (Exodus 3.1-17; Joshua 1.1-7). David became the first legitimate king (2 Samuel 7.4-17,18-29). Of course, Abram’s seed, Christ, is the one who will perfectly accomplish God’s plan for Israel and the world (Isaiah 11.1-9; Zechariah 12-14).
7.    Abram, at age 75, by faith took Sarai and Lot and moved from Haran toward Canaan. He did not know where he was going, but he believed God (Genesis 12.4-5; Hebrews 11.8).
8.    Abram went Shechem (Genesis 12.6); then to south Canaan (Genesis 12.9); from Canaan he went to Egypt because of famine, where he in unbelief lied to Pharaoh about Sarai (Genesis 12.10-20). After that he traveled back to the Bethel area (Genesis 13.3). Abram was a wealthy man by this time (Genesis 13.2; Hebrews 11.9).
9.    Abram gave Lot his choice of land. Lot of course thought he was taking the best–the Sodom area (Genesis 13.5-13). God gave to Abram and his descendants everything else, so Abram moved to Hebron, the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 13.14-18).
10.    Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, had conquered the five cities of the plain and so required heavy taxes. The cities revolted after 12 years of this. Chedorlaomer and four other kings punished the cities. He carried away slaves including Lot. Abram heard of this; he formed a small army (318 men) and along with Mamre, Aner, and Eshcol pursued and defeated the Chedorlaomer army. He returned with the stolen goods and people. When he returned he gave a tenth of the goods to Melchizedek, the king-priest of Salem. Abram also gave the king of Sodom back his goods (Genesis 14; Hebrews 7.1-4,6).
11.    Sometime after the Chedorlaomer war Abram asked God that Eliezer, his servant, be made the heir of the seed promise. God said no, then told Abram that he and Sarai will have a son who will be the heir. He restated the blessing covenant, then had Abram cut select animals in half. God put Abram into a deep sleep. During the sleep God predicted the Egyptian bondage, and the return from Egypt. Finally, by passing between the animal halves he confirmed the covenant to Abram (Genesis 15).
III. Ishmael, seed of human plans, Genesis 16
12.    After all of these grace confirmations Sarai let unbelief get the best of her. Instead of waiting for God to work, she offered Hagar to Abram so that she might have Abram’s heir. Ishmael was born when Abram was 86 years old. Ishmael was not only not the heir, but became a source of conflict for Abram and Sarai and the future Israel (Genesis 16; Galatians 4.22,23,29-31).
13.    When Abram was 99 years old God restated the seed, land, and blessing covenant. The heir to the covenant was going to be a son of Abram and Sarai. In keeping with this God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17.5). God instructed that circumcision was the sign of the covenant. Every male eight days old was to be circumcised. Circumcision signified belief in God’s covenant with Abram (Genesis 17.1-14; Acts 7.8). Abraham, Ishmael, and his servants were all circumcised (Genesis 17.22-27).
IV. Isaac, seed of God’s promise, Genesis 17-22
14.    God announced that Abraham and Sarai will have a son. Abraham laughed, but God clearly stated that her son will be the promised heir. God even said that the child will be born the next year; God named him Isaac. In keeping with the blessing on Sarai God changed her name to Sarah (Genesis 17.15-22).
15.    Shortly after this the Lord appeared along with two angels to Abraham while he was by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18.1). He again told Abram that Sarah will have a son the next year. Sarah overheard and laughed. The Lord replied “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18.14). This was a test of faith for both Sarah and Abraham; they both passed the test (Hebrews 11.11-12). As the angels left for Sodom, Abraham asked the Lord to spare Sodom (Genesis 18.22-33). God spared Lot, but brought sudden, fiery, and catastrophic judgment upon Lot’s ill-chosen place of temporal prosperity (Genesis 19.12-26).
16.    Some years later Abraham moved to south Palestine, Gerer, a town south of Gaza in the Philistine area . Here his unbelief made him cowardly; he misled Abimelech. Abraham was found out and he prayed for Abimelech–God restored the child bearing ability of Abimelech’s house (Genesis 20; 21.32-34).
17.    Finally, when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90, Isaac was born, possibly while they lived near Gerer (Genesis 21.3; Galatians 4.22; Hebrews 11.12). Abraham circumcised him (Genesis 21.4). Two or three years later Sarah had Abraham drive off Ishmael and Hagar. God instructed Abraham to send them away, but with the divine promise that he too will be the father of a great nation (Genesis 16; 21.9-22).
18.    Abraham spent many years in the Beersheba area before the next recorded test of his faith–the offering of Isaac on a mountain of Moriah (Genesis 22). This test hit the center of Abraham’s life and faith because it was about his promised son and heir, who was the direct result of God’s land, seed, and blessing covenant. Abraham passed the test. He believed that God would provide in some way so that Isaac would continue to be the heir (Genesis 22.8-19; Hebrews 11.17-19). Abraham named the place hary hwhy “The Lord Will Provide” in honor of the Lord (Genesis 22.14).
V. The last years of Sarah and Abraham, Genesis 23-25
19.    Sarah died in Hebron at age 127; Isaac was 37 (Genesis 23.1-2). Abraham bought a field and cave near Hebron, named Machpelah, from Ephron, the Hittite, for 400 silver shekels (Genesis 23.8,9,16,17). He buried Sarah there (Genesis 23.19). Later, he (Genesis 25.9), Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 49.30-31), and Jacob (Genesis 50.7,13) were buried at the same place.
20.    Abraham’s next concern was to find the right wife for Isaac, so when he was about 140 years old he sent his servant back to the city of Nahor, near Haran, to find a wife for Isaac (Gen 24). God had prepared the right woman for Isaac–Rebekah (Genesis 24.12-15).
21.    Abraham married Keturah; from her he had six sons (Genesis 25.1-6), known later as the sons of the east (Judges 6.3).
22.    Abraham died at age 175. Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 25.7-11). Since he was an Old Testament believer he went to paradise (Luke 16.22-31; 23.43; 2 Corinthians 12.4).
VI. Abraham, the faith pattern

23.    God blessed Abraham, Israel, and the world through Abraham, the first Hebrew (Genesis 12.1-3; Luke 3.23-34; Romans 4.1; 9.1-5).
a.    God has blessed church age believers through his covenant with Abraham. We have justification, eternal life, spiritual blessings, and a wonderful temporal life and future life because of our relationship to Jesus Christ, the son of God and human son of Abraham (Romans 9.22-24,30; Galatians 3.8-9,14,29; Ephesians 1.3).
24.    The believing descendents (seed) of Abraham get the covenant blessings. Abraham has different kinds of descendents.
a.    Racial unbelieving descendants are those who trace genetic lineage to him; they are blessed by association with the covenant.
b.    Racial believing descendents, like Isaac and Jacob, are directly blessed (John 8.33,37,39a,53; Acts 13.26; Romans 9.7-8; 11.1,22).
c.    Jesus Christ is the unique racial seed (Galatians 3.16; Hebrews 2.16).
d.    Spiritual descendants, Jew or Gentile, are those who believe God’s promise about the Messiah, Jesus Christ (John 8.39b; Galatians 3.7-9,29).
e.    Believing God and his word is of course the great separator in life. Lineage and heritage are always secondary to regeneration (John 3.3; 8.36; 2 Corinthians 5.17).
25.    Abraham believed that God would redeem and bless mankind through a future Messiah. He saw Christ and his coming through the eyes of faith long before the actual event (John 8.56-58; Hebrews 11.13; Genesis 15.6).
a.    We now know when the Savior came and who he is. We become sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3.26).
26.    Abraham believed that God had a wonderful temporal and eternal future for the nation that would come from his progeny (the future Isaac). This future included a homeland, blessing from God, and blessing for the entire world (Genesis 12.1-3; Genesis 15).
a.    Church age believers possess spiritual blessings in Christ for temporal life and eternal life (Philippians 1.27-28; Ephesians 1.3). These include royal family heritage, royal family mission, and royal family courage blessings.
27.    Abraham along with Sarah lived with the belief that God has prepared an eternal city for them. They lived as aliens on the earth. Both died before the fulfillment of the expectation, but neither quit believing God (Hebrews 11.10, 13,16).
a.    Church age believers are heavenly citizens with a wonderful future (John 14.1-3; Philippians 3.20-21; Colossians 1.12-14; 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18; Hebrews 12.22,28; 13.14; Revelation 21.2,10).
28.    In summary, Abraham set the faith pattern for eternal life justification, temporal life justification, and confident expectation of an eternal home.
a.    He was justified by faith for eternal salvation (Genesis 15.6; Romans 4.1-25; Galatians 3.6; James 2.23a).
b.    His post-salvation faith was lively and active and so he was justified by works during his life (Hebrews 11.9-10,13,17; James 2.21-22, 23b,24).
c.    He confidently waited for the eternal city built by God (Hebrews 11.10,13,16).