Abram (later changed to Abraham) lived about four centuries after the Flood, in Ur of the Chaldees, in the southern part of ancient Babylonia.
Genesis devotes several chapters to Abraham’s life, and St. Paul highly commends his faith in Hebrews, chapter eleven. “Father of the Faithful” is one of Abraham’s titles in the Bible. Abraham was the first person to whom God revealed the Gospel – that in and through his seed all the families of the earth should receive a blessing. The Apostle declares that God preached in advance the Gospel to Abraham, and thus all who believe that Gospel, of which redemption by Messiah is vital, are called “the children of Abraham,” and he is spoken of as their father (Galatians 3: 7-9).
But in still another sense Abraham was the father of the faithful, in that he typified the Heavenly Father, as Isaac typified our Lord Jesus, and as Isaac’s bride, Rebecca, typified the elect Gospel Church.
Abraham’s Faith Tested
While living in Haran, at age seventy-five, Abraham’s faith was first tested, when God commanded him to leave his native country to wander up and down Palestine as a shepherd, dwelling in tents without any permanent home, and without attempting to take possession of the land. The promise was that at some future time God would bring his posterity to this land and give it to them for a possession.
The promise went further and declared that if obedient, the Lord’s blessing would continue and that the seed of Abraham would become great and influential and that through it all nations would receive a blessing. It required great faith to believe all this under the circumstances. And the test continued, as, year by year, Abraham’s wife grew older, until the time of motherhood was past. But still Abraham’s faith did not waver.
Still later, after Isaac the son of promise had been born and had grown to manhood, the Lord gave Abraham a most crucial test, by telling him to offer his son as a sacrifice. The father love, the hopes of years, and apparently the Divine Word and Oath were all about to be wrecked. Yet his faith did not falter, for he accounted that God was able to raise his son from the dead and that surely God would fulfill His every promise to which He had bound Himself, not only by His Word, but also by His Oath (Hebrews 11: 17-19).
But Abraham was not perfect. On two occasions he was reproved by heathen kings for claiming that Sarah was his sister and not his wife, although she was his half-sister (Genesis 12 and 20). Nevertheless, God did not reject Abraham because of those imperfections.
“A City which hath Foundations”
Hebrews 11: 10 states that Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” A city, in olden times, stood for and represented a government, a rule of authority. Abraham realized that the earth was full of sin and violence and out of harmony with God. He longed for that righteous government whose foundations would be deeply laid, and that it would be an everlasting kingdom.
Abraham was looking for the Kingdom of God’s dear Son – the Millennial Kingdom. His eye of faith looked down and beheld Messiah and the exaltation of Israel and the blessing of all the families of the earth during the Millennial day. Our Lord Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8: 56). The Ancient Worthies, of which Abraham will be one, will be the earthly agents through which this heavenly city will send forth its blessings to Israel and to all the families of the earth.
Good Example of Faith
What wonderful faith Abraham possessed! Faith was the very quality which specially commended him to the Almighty as his particular friend. And it is faith, the channel through which we may also have the friendship, blessing and fellowship of the Lord, as we read, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11: 6). The more faith we have the more pleasing we shall be in the Lord’s sight, and the more we may be used by Him as channels of blessing to others – however imperfect we may be in other respects.