Blessing to all Peoples on Earth â€“ the Significance of Abraham for us today
Abraham lived around 2000 B.C. He was the first man to be called a prophet. The life of Abraham is the first larger narrative unit in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Abraham was called by the Lord to leave his own country, first Ur in Southern Mesopotamia, then the more Northern Haran, to go to the land the Lord would show him. This in order that all peoples on earth might be blessed through him.
Abraham accepted the challenge and left, but for a long time, the fulfillment of the promise seemed to tarry due the barrenness of his wife Sarah, a woman of exceptional beauty. Longing for an heir, Abraham gives in to Sarah's suggestion to have a child through her servant Hagar and thus Ismael is born. Nonetheless, in due time, the Lord is gracious to Sarah and she conceives the son of promise: Isaac. At his birth Abraham is already 100 years old. The ensuing rivalry between the two women and their respective children eventually causes the expulsion of Hagar and Ismael from the household.
Some time afterwards comes the biggest faith test for Abraham: God asks him to sacrifice as a burnt offering his beloved and long awaited son Isaac. Though Abrahams' faith is tested to the utmost, this time he is trusting the Lord fully. And he is not disappointed. In fact, the Angel of the Lord stops Abraham at the very last moment from sacrificing Isaac and a ram is provided instead.
A central theme in God's dealing with Abraham is the covenant the Lord established with him, a covenant that requires obbedience and the circumcision as human counterparts. Crucial elements of the covenant are the land and the promise to be a blessing to all peoples of the earth.
The New Testament reveals that the Abrahamic covenant was looking forward to an even better promise: the new covenant that is established by the Messiah and which finally extends to all peoples on earth. For who belongs to Christ, is Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise. Abraham's faith was credited to him as righeousness. So it is through faith that the believer is saved by grace. Abraham's faith made him look forward to the city whose architect and builder is God. This is also the Christian's sure hope.
(References: The Bible - Genesis 12-25; Gal 3:29; Eph 2:8; Rom 4:9; Heb 11:10)