Lesson 8 – Abraham

This teaching page is a study of Abraham.  Abraham is first mentioned at the end of Genesis 11 as Abram.  Abram means father is exalted.  Abram is called out of his country to the promised land in Genesis 12.  Abram has his named changed by God in Genesis 17 to Abraham, meaning father of a multitude.  This study will look at the life of Abraham until he dies in Genesis 25.

The word that best describes Abraham is father.  He was the father of many nations.  He was the father of our faith.  And he is a type of our heavenly Father.  I will use these three categories of Abraham as father as sections for this study.

The Father of Many Nations

Genesis 12 is the first time that God promised Abram that He would make of him a great nation.  At this point in his life, Abram was childless and 75 years old.  However, Abram was faithful in believing the promise of God and took his wife Sarai from Haran into Canaan.  In Genesis 13:14-16, God promised Abram the land of Canaan and that his descendants would be in number as the dust of the earth.

Even though God renewed his promise of the land and that Abram’s descendant would be as the stars of the heavens and from him and not his servant, Abram and Sarai decided to help God keep his promise.  Sarai gave her handmaid, Hagar to Abram to have a child.  When Abram was 86 years old, Ishmael was born.  Ishmael had 12 sons or princes as they are called and they are listed in Genesis 25:13-15.

When Abram was 90 years old, God renewed his covenant with him to be the father of many nations and changed his name to remind him – to Abraham.  This was a promise of fruitfulness.  God instituted the sign of circumcision as a sign of the promise.  Circumcision is where the men of Israel cut off the foreskin of their flesh.  Abraham did this when he was 99 years old.  After Abraham obeyed God in the act of circumcision, God blessed Abraham and Sarah with the son of promise – Isaac.  Abraham was 100 years old when Issac was born.  From Isaac, the nations of Israel (Jacob) and Edom (Esau) were born.  Esau’s descendants are listed in Genesis 36.

Sarah dies in Genesis 23 at the age of 127.  After Sarah died, Abraham sent his servant to his kindred to find a wife for Isaac.  After Isaac and Rebekah are married in Genesis 24, Abraham took another wife named Keturah.  By Keturah, Abraham had 6 sons.  There are also 10 grandsons mentioned as descendants of Keturah.  One of the sons of note is Midian whose descendants Moses lived among when he fled Egypt.  Moses wife Zipporah was a Midianite woman.

Abraham was given 3 different metaphors as part of God’s promises to him regarding how numerous his descendants would be.  Those metaphors were:  as the dust of the earth, as the sand of the sea, and as the stars of the heaven.  The scripture references are below.

Genesis 13:14-17

14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Genesis 15:5

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

Genesis 22:17

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

These 3 metaphors correspond to 3 different groups of people.  The dust of the earth refer to Gentile nations who come from Abraham.  The sand of the sea refer to Israel as a nation.  The stars of the heaven refer to the Church who become descendants of Abraham by faith.

The Father of the Faith

In addition to being the father of many nations, Abraham is also the father of our faith.  He is the example that Paul referred to in Romans 4 when describing the righteousness by faith apart from the Law.

Genesis 15:3-6 says,

And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

God made promises to Abraham and he believed God even though it did not make sense from the world’s perspective.  Biblical faith is believing the promises of God.  God called Abraham righteous because of his faith.  Notice that Abraham was called righteous before he sacrificed unto God, before he was circumcised, and before he offered up Isaac.  In the same way as Abraham, we are called righteous by faith in the promise of God.  His promise to us now is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou wilt be saved.  We are saved by faith in Christ apart from works in the same way as Abraham.  We desire to do good works for God because of the salvation that He has given us by faith.  We do not earn this salvation through any work; it is all of grace through faith in Christ.

Every Old Testament Saint who was ever saved was saved because they believed the promises of God for them and God called them righteous.  Think of Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  He believed God and built an ark to survive the flood.  He acted in faith because he believed the promise of God.

A Type of our Father God

Genesis 22:2 says,

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham, here was a type of the Father who would sacrifice His beloved Son.  Abraham’s love for Isaac was a type of the love that the Father has for the Lord Jesus Christ and also the love he has for all of those who believe on His name for salvation.  It is interesting to note that this is the first mention of the word, love.  Biblical love always involves the idea of one sacrificing for another.

Moriah is traditionally connected with Jerusalem and specifically where Solomon’s Temple was built.  The Lord Jesus Christ was sacrificed on a cross in the same general location as Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him.  Abraham believed that God would provide a substitutionary sacrifice when he said in verse 8,

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

God did provide a ram on that day and provided himself as the Lamb approximately 2000 years later.

Abraham is also a type of the Father in the way he seeks a bride for his son, Isaac.  In Genesis 24, he sends his servant (a type of the Holy Spirit) to find a bride for Isaac.  The Church is Christ’s bride just as Rebecca was Isaac’s bride.  The next lesson will look at Isaac as a type of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *