by Beth Piepenburg
Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldees, in present day Southeastern Turkey, with his father Terah. Although from the righteous lineage of Shem, a son of Noah, his father Terah was a pagan worshiper. When Abram had irritated his fellow Chaldeans with his talk about the true God, he and his father were forced to leave Ur. Although the Lord was directing Abram to move to the land of Canaan, his father preferred to relocate at Haran, about forty miles south of Ur, and set up a center for the worship of Sin, the moon goddess.
After the death of his father five years later, seventy-five year old Abram was free to follow the Lord’s directive to dwell in Canaan. Here the Lord promised him that his seed would be numerous, but from his seed would come One in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Not only was Abram to be blessed with a son, but Abram was carrying through his own seed the spiritual promise of a physical Savior.
However, God was not yet ready to give Abram a son until he and his wife Sarai were mature in their faith. They settled in various places, learning to grow in faith. When famine hit they abandoned Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. Relying in his own cleverness rather than trusting God, Abram told the Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister rather than his wife. Well, she was a paternal cousin, a little stretch from sister. When Pharaoh discovered their half-truth, they were told to leave. Returning to Canaan, their faith in God developed deeper roots.
Faith is like a mustard seed that begins small and grows to be a large plant. Likewise, Abraham’s faith had started with a small seed of belief and for centuries continued to grow with his descendants. The ultimate return of his faith would come to fruition with the Promised Seed.
Being ten years from when Abram and Sarai had left Haran, God had not provided them a physical heir. While ten means completion, they found themselves uncompleted or lacking a son. So, Sarai hatched a plan of using her handmaid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Ishmael was conceived, and Abram and Sarai were satisfied with the outcome. (Ishmael became the father of the Saracens, not the Arabians.)
When Abram was ninety-nine, the Lord appeared to announce His blessings over Abraham’s lineage, to instruct him about the covenant rite of circumcision, to give Abram and Sarai a name change, and to shake their world with the promise of a son through Sarah. Well, wouldn’t you laugh, if your wife was well past the age of bearing children? As promised, the next year Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.
Several years later, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Perhaps, Abraham thought that Isaac was the Promised Seed and God would provide a miracle. With heavy heart, Abraham took Isaac, a lad, up to the mountains of Moriah, possibly the very same spot where Christ was crucified. Willingly, Isaac laid himself on the altar, putting his trust in his father. Relief swept over father and son when the angel of the Lord called out to stop Abraham, because the purpose of the test was to see if Abraham feared the Lord. Whew! A ram was caught in the thicket for the sacrifice! The imagery speaks so well of the Father giving his Son as a sacrifice on Calvary, and a Son willing to lay his life down. Surely, the promise of a Seed was being passed down from Abraham unto generations later, to Mary the mother of Jesus.
Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.