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Bible verses about Abraham
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 9:27  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We witness the closing stages of Noah's comments today. Canaan, broadly the peoples of Africa, is in the process of being marginalized by world powers. God has indeed "enlarged" the population, prestige, and power of Japheth, the Asian nations collectively, especially in the last hundred years or so. Japheth's general and widespread "blooming" is one of the most obvious and important trends today.

What is not so obvious, however, is the role of Shem in bringing about this growth. Nevertheless, the fact is incontrovertible: God has used (and is using) Shemitic civilization to transform Japheth into a great people. Japheth is coming to "dwell in the tents of Shem"—in those cultural fixtures originated by Americans and Europeans. This widespread realignment of cultural bearings, from traditional Oriental to postindustrial Occidental, often comes with reservation—and with a good deal of adaptation as well. Nevertheless, it has come about:

» The Japanese Emperor wears Western-style clothes. His people, isolated from the Occident for centuries, have today thoroughly accepted the institution of capitalism, "a peculiar creation of Western culture." The Japanese people have come to feel quite at home "in the tents [and tenets] of Shem."

» India may lack an emperor but not Shem's tents. India is the world's largest democracy. Just like capitalism, democracy, as we will see shortly, is a Shemitic invention. In the 1830s, an Englishman, Lord Macaulay, formulated a civil and criminal legal code still used in India today. Macaulay believed that Britain's aim in ruling India should be the creation of "a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste and intellect." To an extent, Britain succeeded.

» As is evident to all, China is moving into Shem's tents as well, slowly adopting a market economy. While no one can say for sure, there will probably be more of Shem in China's future.

One writer offers remarkable insight into these tents. He does not refer to Shem, but to his descendent, Abraham. The Abrahamic

world emerged from the triad of religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that trace their roots in the Biblical patriarch and spawned the great secular ideologies of scientific empiricism, liberal democracy, and Marxism. Unlike the Buddhist and Hindu worldviews, the Abrahamic perspective sees nature as reducible to predictable laws and history as a process with a meaningful beginning, middle, and end. The Muslim, the Marxist, the democrat, the Baconian scientist, the Christian, and the Jew all share this fundamentally similar outlook on life.

Because the Western perspective focuses on the sibling rivalries between Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Jefferson, Bacon, and Marx, it too often overlooks the extraordinary spread of Abrahamism out of its native Middle East into nearly every corner of the world. Virtually every human culture that has encountered Abrahamic ideology has adopted it sooner or later. Asia is no exception. In the last 100 years, each major Asian state has embraced at least one Abrahamic faith. Consequently, every Asian society is today engaged in a fundamental effort to reconcile its increasingly Abrahamic outlook with its native culture. (Walter Mead, "The End of Asia? Redefining a Changing Continent," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000, p. 156. Emphasis added).

The commentator concludes:

In fact, the twenty-first century may well be remembered more for the end of Asia than for its rise. On the one hand, the universal solvents of capitalism and Abrahamic ideology will continue to sow deep social and cultural changes among the peoples of geographical Asia, steadily reducing, transforming, and remixing—although probably never finally eliminating—the last traces of pre-Abrahamic culture.

The point, of course, is not that Asia is "ending" as a power structure. Rather, Asia is buying into Occidental thought at the cost of her traditional, Oriental culture.

Charles Whitaker
Globalism (Part Two): The Tents of Shem


 

Genesis 12:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God made a twofold promise to Abraham. The first was a material promise that he would be the father of many nations and that kings would descend from him. God promised him that his progeny would inherit the land of Canaan, an expanse that He defined as stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates rivers. The second, but more important, promise was spiritual. God promised Abraham that in his Seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. This promise encompasses the life and work of Abraham's best known and most revered descendant, Jesus Christ.

This promise was later extended to include the inheritance of the whole world (Romans 4:13). Abraham's physical descendants, the nation of Israel, inherited the land of Canaan. This was a type of Abraham's spiritual descendants inheriting the earth.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Genesis 12:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God remembers the Gentiles when He calls Abraham, promising that every nation, "all the families of the earth," will be blessed in the blessings of Abraham. Paul, "the apostle to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13), carries the thought to its conclusion when he asserts that the line demarcating Jew and Gentile disappears in Christ: "[T]here is neither Jew nor Greek; . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:28-29).

Charles Whitaker
Peter's Trumpets Message—on Pentecost


 

Genesis 12:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God exiled Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans and then from Haran across the Euphrates River. He had to leave everything. He took his family with him, but when they left Haran, he even left his father's grave behind.

He had to leave all his kindred and go with Sarah and his servants into this wild Canaan, a land that was not his, to live there as a stranger and a pilgrim for the rest of his life. There is no record of him ever returning to Haran, not even to visit his father's grave. When he needed to make contact with his relatives in Haran, he sent Eliezer. For example, he sent Eliezer to get Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. In a sense, Isaac was sent into exile as well. Abraham, the father of our faith lived through many, many years of exile from the land of his birth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How to Survive Exile


 

Genesis 12:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To understand fully what God has done, it is necessary to go back to the beginning to see His purposes in choosing Israel. Israel's beginning occurs, not with Jacob, but with the calling of Abraham.

God's final remark in verse 3 is the most fundamental reason God chose Abraham, and thus Israel and his descendants: to bless mankind in the Person of Jesus Christ. Christ is the center, the focus, of everything. He is the end or the goal of the law (Romans 10:4), the One toward whom the whole Old Testament was written (Galatians 3:24; see Luke 24:44). As Paul puts it, to us He "is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11; see Ephesians 1:23).

Physically, Jesus had to descend from some line of humanity. Abraham, who was himself descended from those who had been faithful to God in earlier times, possessed special qualities that pleased Him. Therefore, He chose Abraham and his family, which later became known as Israel, to work through to bring the wonderful blessing of salvation to all mankind. God says of him:

For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him. (Genesis 18:19)

This man had a special relationship with God: He knew God, and God knew him. God says He had worked with Abraham to bring out the qualities that would allow the patriarch to command his descendants so that they would keep the way of the Lord. In other words, Abraham had such a force of godly character that he would pass down to his descendants an affinity for God's way (see the principle in Exodus 20:6). In Abraham, God created a people who had a special link to Him. God knew that, for the purpose He was working out, Abraham was the best candidate, later called "the father of us all" in the faith (Romans 4:16), from whom to build a model nation with certain desired qualities.

We should be careful not to take this idea too far. Abraham was not perfect; he sinned and his story reveals that he had to grow a great deal. Nevertheless, he was the only person whom God ever asked to sacrifice his only son, just as He did. If nothing else, this puts him at least one rung above the rest of us. Beyond that, his righteousness does not make his descendants one whit better than other people of the earth. Their prime advantage lies in the fact that, since God had a close relationship with Abraham, they hold a special place in God's heart (see Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

This is the beginning of Israel. For His purposes, and to produce an eventual blessing for all nations, God started with the best clay that He could mold.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Why Israel? (Part One)


 

Genesis 12:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A turning point in the saga of God's people occurred when God called Abram to leave Mesopotamia for a land he knew little or nothing about, Canaan. He promised him great blessings of wealth and rulership, as well as spiritual blessing: "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3; also 22:18). This could only be a reference to the work of the Messiah.

Paul mentions this prophecy in Galatians 3:16: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." It is evident from the genealogies in both Matthew 1 (Joseph's) and Luke 3 (Mary's) that both legally and naturally Jesus is a descendant of Abraham.

"And if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29). We Christians are also children of God through our faith in Jesus (verse 26), and this makes us spiritual descendants of Abraham and co-heirs of the promised blessings.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Born of a Woman


 

Genesis 13:14-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God commits Himself to giving Abraham this land forever. The concept of eternity enters the picture early in God's relationship with Abraham.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 14:18-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jacob must have been taught about tithing by his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Genesis 14 succinctly reveals several principles of tithing. First, the tithe goes to God through His representative, the priest. Second, the Bible repeats that it is one-tenth. Third, this law was in effect long before God commanded it through Moses. Fourth, Abram, blessed for his faithfulness to God, gave tithes in recognition of God's rulership and providence.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Tithing


 

Genesis 14:20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham returned from the war against the kings, bringing back a great deal of booty.

The speaker in verse 20 is Melchizedek, and the "he" who gave Him tithes refers to Abraham, as Hebrews 7 clearly states. This occurred around 430 years prior to the making of the Old Covenant. Tithing is not stated here as a law but is introduced into the flow of the story of the Bible as an already ongoing practice, which Abraham already knew. How did Abraham know to give ten percent?

How did Abraham know God's laws, which were formally written 430 years later? By God's own testimony, Abraham kept them and was faithful (Genesis 26:5). There are two possible answers.

First, in James 2:23, Abraham is called "the friend of God," indicating a close relationship. He is the only one in the Book who is called God's friend. In John 15:14, Jesus said to the apostles, "You are My friends. And, do you know what? Because you are My friends, I am going to tell you what I am going to do."

God told Abraham His laws! God says Abraham heard and obeyed in Genesis 26:5. How did he know about tithing? God told him about it. Abraham was God's friend, and God wanted Abraham to act righteously. Because God did not want his life to be a mess, He instructed him in His way, His laws, and commandments!

Secondly, God told Adam and Eve His laws, being their Father. What kind of Parent would He be if He sent them out into life without instruction? That is a parent's responsibility, and God instructed His children.

Consider Genesis 4, in which Cain and Abel made their sacrifices. How did Cain and Abel know what to sacrifice? Did it just pop into their minds? Adam and Eve, who had walked with God in the Garden, told Cain and Abel what the appropriate sacrifices were. When the time came to sacrifice, Abel was obedient, while Cain was not. In Romans 4:15, Paul said that where there is no law there is no transgression. God spoke harshly to Cain, and pronounced a curse on him. If Cain did not know better, then God would have been unjust in His punishment.

Abraham knew God required tithes. If we follow tithing through the Bible, it does not even appear as a law until the book of Leviticus and Numbers 18 for the priesthood.

Next, Jesus Christ commands tithing in Matthew 23:23. Our Lord and Savior was in favor of tithing. He should be, because He gave it at the beginning. He told Abraham about it. He assigned it to the Levitical priesthood. Then, by very strong implication in Hebrews 7, tithing is assigned to the church. There has never been any deviation. Tithing has always been God's manner of financing His educational service.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

Genesis 15:1-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham was concerned that he had no children. In this section, God promised him that he would have countless children. Into this comes faith; Abraham believed Him. It is that simple. When it says that Abraham believed, we can understand from James 2 and elsewhere that his belief motivated him to submit—to obey God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Genesis 15:2-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham asks for clarification regarding an heir because earlier, God had said that Abraham's family would be great (Genesis 12:2-3). In response, God promises him innumerable descendants, using an illustration requiring Abraham to count the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:4-5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Genesis 17:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Genesis 17:7 is an important iteration of God's promise in Genesis 12:2-3 that Abraham "shall be a blessing." God promises to establish an eternal covenant not only with Abraham but also with his descendants. Those descendents are going to be very precious to God. In fact, so close to God are those descendents that the prophet Zechariah refers to them as the apple of God's eye (Zechariah 2:8). Historically, God and Israel are never very far apart.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 20:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The first person who is named a prophet is Abraham. This occurrs when Abimelech is being instructed by God regarding Sarah, that he is to return her to Abraham.

However, Abraham is chronologically not the first person the Bible shows prophesying. That would be Enoch. It does not report on this until the book of Jude: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints'" (Jude 1:14). Here Enoch, before the Flood, prophesies of the return of Jesus Christ with the saints.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Genesis 20:17-18  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

How long did God forbear with converted Abraham? We are talking about the "father of the faithful"! Verse 17 takes place after everything was all cleared up between him and Abimelech.

How long did it take them to notice that all the women in Abimelech's house were barren? At least a couple months. God did not strike him down for his lie. He gave Abraham a chance to repent, to confess both to God and Abimelech what the truth was, but he never did it. So finally God stepped in, giving Abimelech a dream that told him he was keeping His prophet's wife, and he had better give her back.

Notice God's forbearance. Not only did He do this over a long time, but He kept Abimelech from defiling Sarah. He also kept Abimelech from killing Abraham for lying to the king. God worked everything out. It could have been an awful situation. Isaac might never have lived, because Isaac is not born until the next chapter. God also shows His forbearance with Sarah - call her "the mother of the faithful" - because she was in on the lie. Yet, she is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith.

Perhaps the most astounding fact is that this was the second time that it had happened! Genesis 12:10-20 records that the same thing occurred between Abraham and Pharaoh fifteen or twenty years earlier. How long did God forbear with Abraham? Fifteen or twenty years! He had given Abraham a couple of decades to repent of this sin, but he did not do it - so God tested him again. Eventually, Abraham did repent, but there was a fifteen- or twenty-year period in which God forbore with him in this problem to help him grow in character.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Genesis 22:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

After what things had passed? What had passed was the whole, interesting story of his life up to this point. It has been said that to follow God Abraham gave up more than any other man. Now, at age 133, he is looking back on a lifetime of trials. Perhaps he thought that he had proved his faith and could relax a bit and enjoy his old age. God, however, had another test for him, the biggest yet. Though God does not tempt us (James 1:13), He does test us. Nevertheless, Abraham eagerly responds when God calls his name: "Here I am!" What tremendous humility this shows.

Mike Ford
Abraham's One God


 

Genesis 22:16-18  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Genesis 22:16-18 records God's embellishment of the promise on the occasion of Abraham's "sacrifice" of his son Isaac. God promises to multiply Abraham and to give him control of strategic military and commercial positions, "gates," in his enemies' territories. As we will see, this promise speaks of the geopolitical advantage God later gave Abraham's descendents. God bases this promise on Abraham's obedience of the command to sacrifice his son, Isaac, a sacrifice God of course stopped just before the knife fell. Note, too, that this promise has the effect of an oath, in that God swears by Himself.

Since this is the last recorded promise to Abraham, it is fitting that God should refer to His first promise, recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. God reminds Abraham of His promise that his seed would be a blessing to all nations. In Galatians 3:16, Paul makes it plain that this "Seed" is Christ. Christ, who is in the lineage of Abraham, blazed a trail by which all peoples could ultimately develop a relationship with the Father. Christ's work makes it possible for God to be our God, according to the promise of Genesis 17:7-8. Christ is indeed a blessing to all nations.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Genesis 26:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham passed the test. What did he do? He upheld his end of the covenant: ". . . because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Exodus 12:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Since God instituted circumcision as the sign of the covenant He made with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11), it predates the Old Covenant by several hundred years. When God called Israel out of Egypt and gave them His laws, He included the command to circumcise male babies (Leviticus 12:3). Circumcision identified the Israelites as physical descendants of Abraham, gave them a sense of national identity, and set them apart from other nations of the world.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Why We Must Put Out Leaven


 

Deuteronomy 32:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This prophecy regarding Israel confirms the power and influence of wealth. For a Christian today, living in a society whose wealth far exceeds the wildest dreams of most people on earth, this power of wealth cannot be ignored. We need to thank God for the opportunity to live in a nation receiving the blessings of Abraham, but we cannot allow its influence to change our attitudes toward God.

Does wealth or poverty have any intrinsic spiritual value? Physically, it is better to be wealthy, but riches can turn one's head spiritually. Incidentally, poverty has that same power because a poor person can become so busy with the cares of his daily existence, that he forgets God. That is why Solomon advises in Proverbs 30:8-9, "[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food You prescribe for me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Joshua 24:2-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Abraham was called, he was literally living in Babylon on the plain of Shinar in the city of Ur. He did not come from a God-fearing family, and there is no evidence that he was converted at the time of Genesis 12:1. Every indication is that he, too, was a heathen. As we shall see, every called person begins in idolatry.

God had in all likelihood begun to work with him, preparing him for his calling by guiding his thinking to begin to question areas of life he had previously accepted without question. Historical traditions indicate that his family was of a priestly caste, and perhaps he was already questioning the validity of the false gods he served.

Acts 7:2-4 clarifies a few things relating to the early period of his calling:

And [Stephen] said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.' Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell."

What is included in God's appearance is not known. Whether it was literal, in a vision, or by dream is not explained anywhere else. The element we need to understand is that, as with us, Abraham did not earn his calling. He had done nothing to earn or deserve God's notice.

Isaiah 51:2 adds a further piece of information worth considering: "Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." While Sarah is at least mentioned, no other family members are included within the scope of this statement. It appears that several members of Abraham's family depended on him, since much of his family left with him, yet God makes clear that Abraham was the only one spiritually called.

To how many of us has a similar thing happened? Why does this happen? Nobody knows! It is unanswerable. God shows mercy to whom He shows mercy. He loves Jacob but loves Esau less by comparison, despite their being twins. He accepts Abel and rejects Cain. He chooses only Noah among millions of others to whom He could have given grace.

This we know: At some time before leaving Babylon, God became a living reality to Abraham to a degree no one else near and dear to him experienced. Even amidst his personal self-seeking and self-pleasing, he was motivated to leave his set routines of life. It must have been similar to what Job experienced when he said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You" (Job 42:5).

Whether the opening of Abraham's mind was gradual or sudden, God had graciously revealed Himself enough to make him move, and he did so to the extent of leaving his homeland and journeying over 1,200 miles, probably on foot or at best by donkey or cart, to a land known for violent weather, especially for its high temperatures.

Abraham was already 70 years old, yet he severed virtually every relationship that matters to normal human concepts of life and well-being. For a long time, stability became a thing of the past, considering that he never again dwelt in a home with foundations. This may seem an unusually hard and harsh requirement. Nevertheless, he embarked on a journey into an utterly unknown future.

What can we learn from this God-engineered example? Undoubtedly, He was testing Abraham, a process we should expect a measure of in our calling as well. We may never have to leave our homeland and set out on a long journey without knowing where we are headed, but it is highly likely that disruptions will accompany our calling.

A primary instruction God wants us to understand from Abraham's calling is that we must make a complete break from our old lives. We must clearly begin to sever ourselves from the old, "inner" life that was implanted in our character by our living according to the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Joshua 24:2-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This demonstrates a problem Abraham appears to have had at the beginning of his conversion, showing that he was not perfect in his obedience. It also reveals God's patience in dealing with us, as well as how little control we sometimes exercise over some circumstances. In such times, we must continue trusting God and fighting to overcome as He leads us through them and teaches us aspects of His character.

Abraham's family members were outright pagans, as was Abraham before his conversion. We need to add Genesis 11:27-32 to the mix:

This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram, and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

Barnes Notes contains a fairly complex study of these verses, showing that Abraham actually received his initial calling when he was 70 while living in Ur of the Chaldeans. Why "initial"? Verse 31 says they left Ur and then came to Haran, adding that Abraham's family dwelt there. "Dwelt" indicates that they remained there for an extended period—it was no mere overnight stop by a group of pilgrims at a motel.

Stephen's speech in Acts 7:2-4 helps us to understand:

Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, "Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you." Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

Stephen clearly states that God called Abraham before he dwelt in Haran, but Genesis 12:1 shows God then moved him from Haran after his father died. Apparently, Abraham's account to his father and others in the family—but most especially his father—of the things he was learning and believing in his calling persuaded them, despite being pagan to the core, that they, too, should emigrate to wherever God was leading Abraham.

Recall, however, from Isaiah 51:2 that God says that He called Abraham alone. Genesis 11:31 clearly shows Terah, the pagan patriarch of the family, leading the expedition, not Abraham. Abraham no doubt deferred to his father in this decision, but this was not God's will.

God knew that, because of Abraham's attitude, he would continue to defer to Terah. God did not want Terah's direct influence in what He was establishing through Abraham. Under Terah's pagan, patriarchal leadership, they got only as far as Haran from Ur, by itself an arduous 700-mile journey on foot!

Researchers speculate that the trip from Ur to Haran plus the sojourn there may have taken as long as five years before the party resumed the journey to Canaan. Perhaps Terah had a lengthy, lingering illness before dying. However, when the last leg of the journey was made, it was under Abraham's leadership.

God intends us to understand that the distance to the Promised Land—1,200 miles on foot from Ur to Canaan—plus the time spent getting there, illustrate the difficulty of breaking away from what we were to what God wants us to be. Unfortunately, some people never seem to accomplish the break.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)


 

Luke 16:22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God promised Abraham's descendants land on earth—the land of Canaan, and later it was all the land he could see (see Genesis 12:5-7; 13:15; 15:18; Romans 9:6-8). God even included the actual boundary line of the property in His agreement with Abraham. "Your seed" refers primarily to Christ, the chief of "Abraham's seed, and heir according to the promise." Since God's promise of the land of Canaan was forever, it is an eternal inheritance and includes eternal life (Hebrews 9:15). Because the angels carried Lazarus into Abraham's bosom, he became one of Abraham's children and thus an heir to the Promised Land on this earth—not in heaven—and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

Luke 16:22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A son who is heir to his father's property cannot inherit and possess it before his father inherits it. Lazarus could not inherit either eternal life or the land before his father Abraham received the promises. Abraham, however, died without actually inheriting these promises (Acts 7:2-5; Hebrews 11:8-13). He was still dead at the time of Christ's earthly ministry, and he still is in his grave today (John 8:52). He will inherit the promises at the time of the resurrection of the just. Human beings in Christ, living and dead, receive eternal life at Christ's second coming, Abraham among them (Luke 13:28).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)


 

John 8:39  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He uses the words "father" and "children" in a well-accepted, spiritual way—that is, a son or a daughter can be considered the child of another if he or she shows the nature and works of that other person. Thus a "son of Belial" shows the characteristics of Belial, meaning confusion, though he is not physically Belial's child. A "son of Abraham," then, would behave or live as Abraham did.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 3)


 

John 8:42  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

They saw themselves as the sons of God due to the fact that they were the physical descendants of Abraham. Yet, Jesus rejects this by saying the proof that they are the sons of God is whether they love Him. If this was true for the Jews, it is also true for us. Though we may be sons of Abraham racially because we are part of the tribes of Israel, it fits us just as it fit the Jews. Abraham may be our father, but unless we have the love of God, He is not our spiritual Father. We find proof of our love for God in that we love Christ. His own advice: "If you love Me, keep the commandments" (John 14:15).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Loving Christ and Revelation 2:1-7


 

Romans 4:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There was nothing vague about God to Abraham. His relationship with God was of such intimacy that he thoroughly understood His character and purpose. He knew that he could trust God to act and react within clear parameters. Abraham added up what he knew about God and about His promise that Isaac was the promised seed, reached a conclusion, and acted. He knew God would have either to resurrect Isaac or to provide a substitute. He chose to trust the One he knew has the power and is faithful.

What if, like most Americans, Abraham had just guessed, based upon vague remembrances of a Sunday school class, movies, fiction works, and paranormal inspirations? We can assume that he would have worshipped the idols of his father Terah. A right concept of God is a Christian necessity because a wrong notion of Him is the very foundation, the starting point, for idolatry. In brief, the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.

God makes this clear at Mount Sinai after making the covenant with Israel and giving them His law. In Exodus 32, Aaron, confronted by the sinful pressure of his peers, became carried away and made a stupid Golden Calf to rescue them from their perceived dilemma. Aaron and the Israelites revealed that their false concepts of God remained. God had the idol immediately destroyed. Israel sinned in attempting to determine the nature of God based on their own reasoning, and many died in a punishing demonstration of the true God's wrath at this egregious sin.

The Israelites of today are still at it; modern Israelites are fantasizing about God. The idolater simply imagines a conception of God and then acts as though his conceptions are true. He is deceived and certainly does not know the true God as Abraham did.

God seeks out those with whom He desires to make the covenant. At that time, all they understand about Him is in broad terms. They are then to seek Him out to know Him more precisely. Those who make the New Covenant with God are required to seek out intimate details regarding His nature, purpose, and character.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem


 

Romans 9:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Matthew 3:9 and Luke 3:8, John the Baptist tells the Jews gathered to hear him not to think that they had it made because they were sons of Abraham, for God can raise children up out of the very stones. In John 8, Jesus encountered the same argument from the Jews, and He said, "Don't think because you are descendants of Abraham that you are Abraham's heirs. He never did the things that you're doing. You want to kill me. Your father is Satan the Devil, not Abraham" (see John 8:37-44).

What we see in Romans 9 is a much bolder and clearer explanation of the same pattern. Paul is explaining what God has been doing all this time and why He will continue to work through Israel. He is not all that concerned about the physical nation. Perhaps He is to some degree, but only because within the physical nation He established through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the real Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 9:7-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"The children of the promise are counted for the seed" means Abraham's seed, and "the children" are Esau and Jacob. Jacob was chosen or elected by God, but Esau was not. So through whom would God work? Obviously, it was Jacob, who on the surface was the weaker of the two—perhaps in character and certainly bodily. The question immediately arises, "Is it fair of God to do this?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Romans 11:26-29  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God has a commitment to Israel—and thus us—because of the obedience of one man, Abraham. We are reaping the benefits of the good Abraham sowed almost four thousand years ago because God is faithful to His promises!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!


 

2 Corinthians 5:14-17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul describes what happened to Abraham at his calling and must happen to us. Abraham's mind—and therefore his life—was so arrested and redirected by God's revelation of Himself that he responded dramatically, despite the realization that he could no longer live as he had for 70 years. He had to make changes, and some of them would be considerable and costly.

He could no longer live completely for himself. He no longer perceived people as he had all his life. He especially could no longer perceive his new God and Savior as He formerly had. A new man was being created from within, so he had to make a clean and permanent break from his old life. His life now had a new Object toward which he must walk. His life had a new direction, a new relationship, new desires, and new requirements to fulfill.

We must never forget that Abraham was a special case; he is the prototype who set a vivid, overall example for all his spiritual children to follow to some degree. There were bumps along the way; at times, he fell short of the ideal. Yet, on the whole, he did nothing less than set a superb example for all of us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Galatians 3:5-11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul approaches the faith and works question from yet another angle. This time, he uses Abraham as the model by which all his "children in the faith" also become "children of God." He begins by posing a question, which can be paraphrased as, "Do miracles come by ritual?" There is in this a veiled illusion to magic. Do miracles come by incantation? Do they come by knowing certain formulas that may include even such things as cutting the flesh or going through long periods of fasting or sufferings to get God's attention? Will God respond with a miracle out of pity once we show Him how humble and righteous we are? No, it does not work that way. Miracles come by a living God, who is actively working in our lives because He called us and we have faith in Him.

With that foundation, Paul begins what turns into the preamble for a very controversial section of Galatians. He proceeds to state that it was through faith that Abraham was justified. It is good to remember that Abraham not only believed who God is, but he also believed what God said. This is what set him apart from everybody else. His faith was not merely an intellectual agreement, but he also lived His faith.

Abraham's works did not win him acceptance by God, but they did prove to God that Abraham really did believe Him. So Paul says in verses 10-11 that those who rely on their works to justify them are under the curse of the law. What is "the curse of the law"? The death penalty! When one sins, he brings on himself the curse of the law he broke, which is death. In effect, he says that those who seek justifcation through works are still under the curse because justification by this means is impossible.

So powerful is the curse of the law that, when our sins were laid on the sinless Jesus Christ, the law claimed its due. Jesus died! Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 to counteract those who were troubling the church, because they were saying that their asceticism, magic, and similar things (like keeping Halakah, the oral law and traditions of Judaism) could justify.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 26)


 

Galatians 3:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Paul says, "know you therefore," he is instructing them to learn from this case (Psalm 100:3; Luke 21:31; Hebrews 13:23).

The Greek word translated "of" here is "a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds)." In this case, it is referring to those people whose origin or source is faith—those who have the right faith, which have been justified by God. This is the starting point of their spiritual life. Paul is showing that we are children of Abraham based on what we believe (have faith in), which is then evidenced by the way we live our life.

One of the many disputes that Christ had with the Jews during His time was over lineage. The Jews traced their physical lineage back to Abraham, and thus considered themselves to be children of Abraham. Christ disagreed with this because, if they were Abraham's sons in the fullest sense, they would have believed and acted just as Abraham did. The real children of Abraham are not his natural descendants (Matthew 3:9), but those who share his faith. This is why Abraham is called the "father of the faithful" (see also Luke 3:8; Romans 2:28-29, 9:6; James 2:21-23).

It is interesting to note again the link between faith (belief) and works (action). In this verse, Paul says that the true children of Abraham are the ones who have the same faith that Abraham had. Yet in John 8:39-41, Christ says the Jews really are not Abraham's children because their works—their actions—were not in accordance with what Abraham had done. There certainly is no contradiction here; the faith that made Abraham remarkable is the faith that motivates people to do good works (James 2:17-26)!

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:26  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This statement would have been a bombshell - and high heresy - to the average Jew of Paul's time, who would have had it in his mind that the people of Israel were the only children of God. Paul here is beginning to explain that physical lineage is not relevant where God's calling is concerned, because under the New Covenant only God can give the summons (John 6:44), and if He summons a Gentile, it is just as valid as if He gave it to an Israelite.

The faith of Jesus Christ is the important factor rather than heredity. This faith is also a part of what God gives (Ephesians 2:8) - again, only to those whom He chooses. But if God has given this living faith (James 2:20) to a man, that man is then a begotten - but not yet born - child of God. God is the real father, rather than Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

David C. Grabbe


 

Galatians 3:26-29  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

True Christians exhibit the faith and righteousness of Abraham. God considers them to be the patriarch's spiritual descendants regardless of their race or sex. Consequently, they will inherit the same promises made to Abraham.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Galatians 3:26  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We become children of Abraham once we are justified by faith in Christ's sacrifice. The Abrahamic Covenant and the promises God made, then, are still in effect. He is going to fulfill those promises. Abraham will have multiple billions of descendants. Now we see the real purpose of the covenant: Abraham's children actually, under God's spiritual purpose, also become God's children.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Galatians 3:29  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Galatians 3:29, Paul lists two results of being "Christ's." First, we become "Abraham's seed." Second, we become "heirs according to the promise." In Romans 4:13, Paul makes plain that this second consequence of being Christ's also pivots around faith: "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."

Once more, advantage of birth, as real as it may be to the people of the world, is irrelevant to God for the purposes of salvation. Anyone with the faith of Jesus Christ becomes an heir to the blessing of the promise. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22). The promise, given to Abraham and repeated in various forms to Isaac and Jacob, is in fact one promise, but has a multitude of ramifications. The various statements of this promise appear in a collage of passages in Genesis (Genesis 12:2-3; 13:14-15; 15:18-21; 17:4-9; 22:16-18; 26:4-5; 28:13-14).

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act II: God's Gift of Faith


 

Hebrews 6:19-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This word "forerunner" is the Greek prodromos, used in Scripture only this one time. It means "scout," "guide," or "one sent before a king to prepare the way." The Greeks also used prodromos to mean "firstfruits."

In the story of Daniel Boone, he went first to scout out Kentucky, then later took a party of thirty woodsmen to improve the trail, and after that, even more people followed. Boone was the forerunner, but so were those who went with him to develop the route. That first small group was the firstfruits. Spiritually, Christ has gone ahead, showing us the way, and we, as the firstfruits, improve the trail so that others will someday walk it more easily.

The concept of a forerunner runs throughout the Bible. We could say that Adam was a forerunner, as well as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and of course, Christ. Notice that each of these forerunners had followers—their firstfruits. Adam had Eve and their sons and daughters that followed them. Noah had his wife and family. Abraham had Sarah and Lot, and later were added Ishmael and Isaac, and then Jacob and his children. Moses had Aaron and Miriam and then all the children of Israel. Elijah led to Elisha. John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Christ, who called His disciples—us.

In other words, we have a part to play as well. It is not the leading role but a supporting one. Nonetheless, it is a necessary part. There is no call for a "big head" here: God could have called someone else or raised up stones, as John the Baptist says in Matthew 3:9. However, He did not; He called us specifically (John 6:44). Therefore, we should not waste our opportunity.

Mike Ford
Blazing a Trail Through the Wilderness


 

Hebrews 7:4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Regarding the word spoils, the Expositor's Commentary says that it literally means "the top of the heap," and is used of the choicest spoils of war. From these spoils, then, Abraham gave one-tenth - the very best - to Melchizedek. It is impossible to know how the spoils were laid out. Were all of the linens stacked together and the jewels in one chest and the armaments in a heap? Whatever the case, Abraham knew that his victory came from God, so he gave to God the very best that he had, the choicest spoils of the battle.

We must see and understand this attitude in giving. Why is Abraham called the "father of the faithful"? David is called a "man after God's own heart." Abraham, too, was a man after God's heart, but he is better known as the father of the faithful.

As we study tithing, a requisite that must be examined is our attitude. How do we approach God as we pay Him what we owe? Our money never seems to stretch far enough in this day and age. The world markets everything toward our lusts, and we feel that we have to have everything. Tithing often interferes with our desires. We can come to believe that God is keeping us from having what we want. Some come into the church up to their ears in debt and discover that they now must tithe on their incomes! They may feel that it is unfair, that undue pressure is being placed on them.

The problem with this thinking is that we are viewing the paying of tithes from the wrong perspective. The attitude of Abraham is an example for us as we give to God. We should wholeheartedly imitate his faithfulness as we, too, pay our tithes and give our offerings. God wants us to give a perfect offering to Him. This is really important! It should not become something that we just do, as if it were merely another bill to be paid.

John O. Reid
Tithing


 

Hebrews 7:5-12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Over 400 years before the Levitical priesthood was established, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. Paul shows that Abraham's descendents paid tithes through Abraham to Melchizedek. "Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak" (verse 9). But the Levitical priesthood passed away with the founding of God's church. Jesus Christ is now our High Priest, and because a change in the priesthood requires a change in the law (verse 12), we are to pay tithes to Him, as Abraham did when He appeared as Melchizedek.

John O. Reid
Tithing: God's Financial System


 

Hebrews 9:14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ became the inheritor of the promises made to Abraham because He alone of all men met all the conditions contained within the promises and the covenants that were made. He was perfect, blameless. Being in that position, He did something from which we benefit, which is explained here.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)


 

Hebrews 11:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Noah had a choice to make. He chose to believe what God said. He turned his energy to doing what God said, and what he did was the means of his life being saved. His vision of what God said caused him to conduct his life in a way that saved him and his family in the end.

Abraham did the same thing. His vision was formed by what God said to him, and so it said of him that "He looked for a city whose builder and maker was God." That was the Kingdom of God. As a result of what he did—aiming his life according to the vision that God gave him—he therefore became heir of the world. This earth is going to be his, and he will share it with his children. But he did it because of vision and faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and the Teens


 

Hebrews 11:8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul first draws attention to the fact that, when God called Abram, as he was called then, he obeyed without knowing where he was to go. His reference is to Genesis 12:1-3:

Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

He had to leave his country, which was essentially Babylon; his family, meaning his ethnic kindred, the Semitic people; and his house, his near relatives. Verse 4 implies that he did not dilly-dally around, waiting for further or more specific directions, but that he responded quickly. It is not said how the Lord appeared to him. Perhaps He appeared to him physically, which would explain his quick departure.

Maybe God prepared him beforehand by revealing His existence to Abram, and this brought about social circumstances that added to Abram's urgency. In other words, God provided proof of His existence, which led to Abram receiving a measure of persecution in reaction to what he was learning. This is not unusual for God to do; He often provides incentive by leading a person through experiences in preparation for a more formal calling later.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Hebrews 11:9-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham left Ur by faith, and it was also by faith that Abraham left Haran. He sojourned in the Promised Land by faith as well. Nowhere does it say how Abraham knew that Canaan was where he was to remain or even that it was indeed the Land of Promise. We will pursue how he knew in a later article.

We are told that despite becoming quite wealthy, and with the exception of a burial place for Sarah and himself, never owning a piece of land, he lived the entire time in tents and that the Canaanites lived in the land with him (Genesis 13:2; 23:1-20). This establishes another general pattern for his faithful children. In every sense of the word, he was a pilgrim. No matter where he lived or what were his economic circumstances, he purchased no land—he never even built a house!

Beyond this, the Bible reveals little social interaction with others outside of his family. Except for a league made with his nearest neighbors, Abraham made no alliances, nor took any part in the politics or the religions of the people of the land. He lived this way for one hundred years. Isaac and Jacob shared the same pattern of life.

God shows us all of this so we might see that virtually Abraham's entire post-calling life was engaged in living by faith, focused on maintaining his relationship with God. He truly was in the world but not of it. He did not cultivate its friendship but used it as necessity required, though in a guarded way, lest he should in some way abuse his privileges with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)


 

Hebrews 11:17-19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice our example of faith, Abraham, the "Father of the Faithful." As Abraham had the knife raised to sacrifice his son, the only evidence he had was the words of God. Abraham could believe God—take Him at His word—or believe all the evidence he could see that the son of promise would die before God fulfilled His promises. Abraham could not "see" what God was going to do. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead. The only "evidence" he had that it all would work out was God's words—the promises God made to him.

God also needed evidence. God did not know for sure what was in Abraham's heart (Genesis 22:12) until Abraham made the decision to trust God rather than all the physical evidence around him. The patriarch's actions proved he would walk by faith and not by sight.

To walk is an action. So even the phrase "walk by faith" demonstrates that living faith requires action. Our evidence is God's words. God's evidence is our actions.

We are in the same boat as Abraham. So says Galatians 3:6: "You have exactly the same experience as Abraham. Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God" (William Barclay). Just as Abraham had to choose between believing God and believing the circumstances he could see, God also has to put us into exactly the same position. He must find out what is the true intent of our hearts—the depth of our faith. God needs to "know" that we will trust Him, no matter what, before He commits to a permanent, eternal relationship with us.

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

Hebrews 11:19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What did Abraham do? The word "accounting" (KJV) or "concluding" (NKJV) tells us a great deal. In Greek, it is an accounting term. An accountant adds up figures. He puts them all in a ledger. He writes down all of the receipts in one column and all the expenditures in another. He adds each column to get their totals. Then, he has an accounting of his or his company's financial health. The numbers are evidence of his own or the company's state.

Abraham did this too, only instead of adding numbers, he added up evidence. His evidence came from the words that God told him: "You shall have a son." It took 25 years, but he did indeed have a son.

A number of years later, God said to him, "Abraham, I want you to go out and sacrifice your son." Abraham could have said, "Uh oh, there's evidence that I didn't count on." But, instead, Abraham left for Mount Moriah early the next morning. What evidence did he have to motivate him to do in faith what God commanded him to do? The Word of God. God had earlier told Abraham that the promise would come through his son, Isaac—not through Ishmael, not through any future son that he might have, but through Isaac, the promised son.

What did Abraham do with this evidence? He knew that there could be only two possible outcomes. If God required Abraham to put Isaac to death, then He would resurrect him, or if God was not going to require Abraham to kill Isaac, then God would give him a substitute sacrifice. Either way, Isaac would live. Abraham added up the evidence, and it produced the motivation to do what he had to do in faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 3)


 

Find more Bible verses about Abraham:
Abraham {Nave's}
 




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