The God of Abraham
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s kind of a weird way for God to identify Himself as, but this is exactly what He did when He spoke to Moses out of the bush and introduced Himself as “I Am that I Am”:
“God… said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’” – Ex. 3:14-15
Thus, He has been remembered as the Great I Am, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But what does that mean to you? Who is this “I Am”? Who is “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”? The only way to grasp the meaning behind these expressions is to go back in time and immerse ourselves in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And that is exactly what we’ll do in this series, starting with Abraham Part I, today!
Who is the God of Abraham?
Stay tuned as we begin the journey to answer this question that just might change your life.
Hello everyone, I’m Mario Alberto, one of the Marios in our little tribe of six Marios and counting (but that’s a story for another day). Today, I’m excited to start this new series, following up on the release of our single. I certainly hope you’ve had a chance to listen to it and share it with others. We want to glorify the name of our Lord, and He has pressed in my heart this desire to know Him and share Him fully.
So let’s get started, to get a better understanding of who is the God of Abraham, we’ll start with the man himself, from the beginning.
God creates Adam and Eve. They have Cain and Able, Seth and other sons and daughters. Though most people know the story of Cain and Able most, it is from the line of Seth that eventually Noah will come. So, that’s the line that will continue the Biblical narrative. Noah comes actually eight generations after Seth to be precise.
This Noah is, of course, the one with the Ark who survived the Great Flood along with his wife and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japhet and their wives. Though Noah did have more sons and daughters after the flood.
It is through the lineage of his eldest son Shem that Abram (who will become Abraham) is born. Some nine generations after Shem.
And here is where our story begins. Starting at the end of chapter 11, beginning of the 12th in Genesis.
Abram and his family are from the land of Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur was near the west-side of the Persian Gulf on what today would be the south of Iraq. Abram had two brothers Nahor and Haran. The first thing we are told is that Haran, the youngest of the brothers, dies before their father (Terah) died. This is important because Haran’s son Lot if featured prominently in the story of Abraham, so we’ll hear of him again. This early traumatic event helps us understand Abraham’s love for his nephew Lot and his family.
Abram marries Sari, and we are told she is barren. Before Abram’s father passes away, Terah takes Abram, Sarai, and Lot, out of Ur towards Canaan and they settled in Haran— the northernmost part of Iraq, today.
It is there that the Lord speaks to Abram and tells him:
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gn 12:1-3)
This is how we are introduced to “the God of Abraham,” so to speak. We, of course, learn about Him from the very beginning, the emphasis here is not to minimize God’s entire revelation through Scripture, but to remain focused on this journey of ours to discover how God interacted with Abraham in recognition of His revealed desired to us to be remembered as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So, what do we learn about this God here? Who is the God of Abraham? Well, we see it is a God of communication and commandment. He speaks to Abram and gives him instructions. This is a God of power, a God of promise. He promises to make him a great nation. Promises land and blessing. It seems the God of Abraham wants to use and work through us—He will bless others through Abraham. We, of course, know today that this is a messianic promise. The Messiah, the Savior of the world will come through Abram’s lineage. That is how we can make sense of that amazing promise that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gn. 12:3)
This is an amazing God we are talking about here. His power knows no limit. He is beyond space and time. He is beyond human comprehension.
And yet, he is interested in Abram and his family. We see here a God of protection, promising to bless to who bless and to curse those who dishonor Abram. This is a loving, caring God.
But we know much more today than Abram did at that point. And yet, isn’t it interesting how Abram’s belief in God is much more concrete than ours is today.
Abram’s response to the Lord’s call is to pack up with his family and go. He was 75 years old when he took his wife and his nephew Lot with all their families and possessions and set out towards Canaan. He moved by faith, not by sight. This is the faith that is praised in Hebrews 11, where it tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Grace, through faith, was and continues to be the only way to salvation.
Still, it is important to note the unconditional nature of this promise. This is what God will do. Period.
Abram and his family reached a place called Shechem, around Jerusalem today, and the Lord appears to Abraham and gives him another unconditional promise: “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gn. 12:7) Abram builds an altar to the Lord there, his first. Then he journeyed to toward the east country west of Bethel (in between Bethel and Ai). There he builds another altar to the Lord and Scripture tells us he, “called upon the name of the Lord” (Gn. 12:8) there. Then he kept on going toward Negeb.
Now, there comes a severe famine, and Abram had to go down to Egypt in order to survive. But, before he enters Egypt, Abram asks Sarai to tell everyone she is his sister because he thought they would kill him if they knew she was his wife since she was extremely beautiful. Abram was indeed treated better (given many gifts, including sheep and oxen) because of Sarai’s beauty, but she was taken to Pharaoh’s house.
What we see next is God’s commitment to His Word. Listener, hear me out now, God’s promises never fail. There is no surer hope, no more solid ground than that which He proclaims. We do well to stake our whole lives on them.
The God of Abraham defends Sarai. He “afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai…” (v. 17) so that Pharaoh eventually figures it out and goes to Abram and asks him why he didn’t tell him she was his wife. He gives Sarai back to him and sends them away.
They travel to Negeb and then back to the place they had been before between Bethel and Ai. There, Abram called upon the Lord (perhaps at that 2nd altar he had established before).
But Abram and Lot’s livestock had grown too many for the land to sustain all of them. Strife started to arise among the herdsmen. Then Abram tells Lot there should be no strife among them. He gives them the choice of the land. Lot can take whatever side he prefers, and Abram will take the other. Such was his confidence in the promise of God.
Lot’s choice seems a bit self-centered and prideful. Scripture tells us he was even eying other nations, like Egypt, in choosing where he wanted to settle. That will cost him later on.
So, “Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved… as far as Sodom” (Gn. 13:12). This was not good for Lot, for the Bible tells us the men of Sodom were wicked and great sinners against the Lord.
After the separation, God spoke to Abram once again, and told him to look around him, for, “all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever” (Gn. 13:15) Here we see, for the first time, that promise of the land connected, not only to Abram but to that great nation, he was promised would be coming from him. The land would be for him and his offspring, forever, which introduces for us the time element, as related to the land too.
As you know, we are still witnessing this promise today.
God continued, “I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you” (Gn. 16-17). Abram believed God, even though there were settlers in those lands. This promise was not easily seen. Abram saw it through faith.
Here we see the God of Abraham, revealing Himself, further. He will not forget His promises. His plans and thoughts are higher than ours so that we often do not see a clear path forward to what He has planned. But this God, the God of Abraham, can open pathways where there are none. His purposes cannot be detained. He is Lord of all.
Again, note God continues to speak this prophetic word into Abram’s life at a time when Sarai is still barren and has been for many years now, while married to Abram. Still, Abram believes and moves as God said, once again, settling by oaks of Mamre at Hebron this time, where he built a third altar to the Lord.
There were wars in the region where Lot and his family dwelled between different small kings. The king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah got into a war where they lost everything, and their enemies took Lot and his family. When Abram heard of it, he took 318 of his trained men and went to fight to get him back. He divided his army and defeated the enemy and brought Lot and his family with their possessions back.
As Abram is on his way back, the king of Sodom when out to receive him and we have the great and somewhat mysterious encounter of Abram and Melchizedek, the King of Salem, which the Scriptures describe as “a priest of God Most High” (Gn. 14:18). This, as some of you may know, has Messianic connotations also, but we do not have time to discuss that right now.
He brings bread and wine (which is not insignificant also) and Melchizedek blesses Abram, saying: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
There is no record of Abram divulging the promise God had made to him to Melchizedek, so it looks like God had revealed to Him some of His plan by the way Melchizedek recognizes God’s hand in Abraham.
He too lets us know concretely, what you and I surely suspected, that it was God who fought the battle for Abram. He delivered the enemy into Abram’s hands.
And so, we continue to get to know the God of Abraham deeper still. He is mighty in battle! He fights for us and delivers us from our enemies. He cares for us and our families. This is a very different God than what people are used to dealing with. This is not a God that is far off, the God of Abraham is near.
Note this God seems to speak and move outside of time. He declares things to Abram that will take years, decades, even centuries and millennia to be fulfilled. This is a God in control of history. History, as they say, is His story. We do well to remember this. Somehow, we tend to see history with our lives at the center, but the God of Abram is far too big to be defined in such menial ways. He has His hand on Abram, but His plan is beyond Abram. Far beyond.
In the same way, He has a plan for that ultimately is not about you, but about Him. This is great news for us! Our lives have eternal value. The God of Abraham imparts in us that life purpose and meaning.
Do you know the God of Abraham? Does your life have purpose and meaning beyond yourself? Or are you struggling to find your purpose? Does everything seem meaningless?
If that is the case, I invite you to open your heart, mind, and soul to Yahweh. This God who loved you so much, He gave His only begotten Son to die for you. That was the plan all along. Even from these early ages in history, he planned for you. For this moment that you may meet Him face to face. That your spiritual eyes may be opened, in an instant!
Do you see? Are you being made new? That is my prayer. And I pray that you will continue to listen to our next episode where we will continue to learn about the God of Abram. There is no better investment for our time than to know Him more and more.
Talk to you soon.