The God of Abraham

Just completing a careful study of the life of Abraham in Genesis, the student sat back in his chair, looked at his carefully prepared notes, and asked himself, “What do you think of Abraham now?” He thought for a long time, and then answered, “My opinion of Abraham has not changed very much. He’s nothing but a man as he himself stated, ‘I who am but dust and ashes.’ (Gen. 18:27) But now I am filled with wonder as I think of the God of Abraham. He’s the One Who made and shaped Abraham who ‘by faith, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.’ (Heb. 11:17) Only God could so mold and shape a man that he could reach such a state of submission to God. Thus I am filled with wonder as I reflect upon His patience, His power, His longsuffering, His wisdom, His love, all of which were poured out on Abraham to make Him into a vessel fit for God to use.” Doubtless, this student’s observation has much to say to us in this day. We make too much of the man, too much of the servant, and not enough of the God who made the servant into His vessel. “We are very much disposed to reason upward, from ourselves to God, instead of downward, from God to us.” David could say, “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, You who set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and infants You have ordained strength, "What is man.? You have made him, You have crowned him, You have made him, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8)

Years after Abraham’s death, God appeared to his son, Isaac, and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you.” (Gen. 26:24) These words should have provided Isaac with the greatest consolation. The life of Abraham clearly demonstrates, as no other man before him, the blessing of God’s presence in our life down here on earth. Let us examine the steps in Abraham’s life and note the vitality of God’s presence in each of these steps.

1. In the Beginning God (Gen. 1:1). God is the beginning of every person who has ever developed into a vessel for God. Without God’s initial intervention, Abraham would have remained Abram of the Chaldees, an idolatrous, wicked, and uneventful man who would now be forgotten in the annals of history along with all his other contemporaries of that land. “Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.” (Josh. 24:2) “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia.” (Acts 7:2) “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called these He also justified.” (Rom. 8:30)

O Master, when Thou callest, No heart may dare refuse;
Tis honor, highest honor, When Thou dost deign to use
Our brightest and our fairest, Our dearest, all are Thine;
Thou Who for each one carest, We hail Thy love’s design.

2. The God of Patience (Rom. 15:5). In the beginnings of every man used of God, progress moves very slowly. Whether we think of Abraham. Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, or others, God’s patience was especially displayed in the days of their early training, although certainly His patience was needed every step of the way. Abraham delayed his calling by lingering in Haran. But God patiently waited. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and DWELT in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, HE (God) moved him to this land in which you now dwell.” (Acts 7:4) In this same chapter, Genesis 12, Abraham went down into Egypt to escape the famine. God miraculously preserved him from harm during his foolish departure and patiently waited for him to return. “Then Abram went up from Egypt;to the place where his tent had been at the beginning;to the place of the alter which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” (Gen. 13:1-4)

O Master, let me walk with Thee in lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care.
Teach me Thy patience! still with Thee in closer, dearer company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong, in trust that triumphs over wrong.

3. The Almighty God – El Shaddai (Gen. 17:1). In a number of subsequent events we learn how God fully convinced Abraham that what He had promised HE WAS ALSO ABLE TO PERFORM. (Rom. 4:21) He gave to Abraham the strength of humility in the conflict between his herdsmen and Lot’s. (Gen. 13) Allowing Lot to have first choice he discovered that strength which comes to those who wait upon God for directions. God gave to Abraham the strength for conquest. (Gen. 14). He delivered Lot from a confederation of kings far superior to the number of his own men. He learned the strength that comes to those who seek to unselfishly help others, even if they do not deserve help or will not be grateful for the help. In this same chapter Abraham was also given moral strength to refuse the riches of the king of Sodom. He learned the strength that comes to one who looks to God and not to man for his reward. After attempting by his own strength through natural means to fulfill God’s promise of an heir, Abraham learned about strength that comes through supernatural ways rather than being provided by the ways of nature. (Gen. 16, 17) He learned the strength of dependence upon God.

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.”

4. The God of Fellowship – God is Light (1 Jn. 1:1-7). As we turn the pages of Abraham’s life to chapters 18 and 19, we begin to feel the close relationship that had grown between God and Abraham. We were told previously that Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6) On this basis, God approached Abraham in an intimate way and we become aware how much God desires to share of Himself with man. In chapter 18, God actually appeared to Abraham in human form at the door of his tent. In the heat of the day, while Abraham was seated, all human activity had ceased, God made His appearance. It is difficult for God to manifest Himself, even through the Scriptures as He does today, to those who are so busy with the activities of the day that their minds and hearts are deeply engrossed with their own personal interests. On this visit, God revealed to Abraham His plans regarding Abraham’s heir and also His plans regarding the wicked city of Sodom. We discover that Abraham learned from God things that He would never have learned anywhere else.

C. H. Mackintosh comments, “Had Abraham visited Sodom in order to obtain information about its facts, had he applied to some of its leading intelligent men, to know what they thought of Sodom’s present condition and future prospects, how would he have been answered? Doubtless, they would have called his attention to their agricultural and architectural schemes, the vast resources of the country; they would have placed before his eyes one vast, mingled scene of buying and selling, building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage. Doubtless, too, they would never dream of judgment, and if anyone had made mention thereof, their mouths would have been filled with infidel laughter. Hence, then, it is plain that Sodom was not the place in which to learn about Sodom’s end. No; the place where Abraham stood before the Lord, afforded the only proper point from whence to take in the whole prospect. THERE, IN THE CLEARNESS AND CALMNESS OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, HE COULD UNDERSTAND IT ALL.”

Although it is not mentioned in Genesis, other writers recognized that Abraham had become “The Friend of God”, a title that fills our hearts with wonder and amazement. King Jehoshaphat, as He prayed to God, called Abraham, “Your friend forever”. (2 Chr. 20:7) God Himself addressed the children of Israel as “the descendants of Abraham My friend.” (Isa. 41:8) Centuries later, James stated that he was called the friend of God. (Ja. 2:23) “What is man that You are mindful of him (that your mind is full of him), and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps.8:4)

“He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that He gave to me, within my heart is singing.”

“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”

5. Jehovah - Jireh; The Lord Will Provide (Gen. 22:14). Finishing our praise of the God of Abraham, let us note this special title of Jehovah that became a real experience to Abraham in his life. In a real and special way in his later years, Abraham learned that God’s resources for His own were without limitations. In Chapter 21 God provided the long awaited heir through his wife, Sarah, even though her womb was dead. (Rom. 4:19) In Chapter 22, he provided the ram for a burnt offering, just when Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. (22:10-14) In Chapter 23, God provided a burial place for his beloved wife, Sarah. In Chapter 24, God provided a bride for his son, Isaac. In Chapter 25, God provided him with an eternal home, gathered to his people, “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. 11:10) “And my God shall supply ALL YOUR NEED according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) After years of dependence on God’s provisions as a missionary in China, Hudson Taylor said, “Depend upon it, God’s work done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supplies.”

The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high;
Hail, Father, Son and Holy Ghost! They ever cry,
Hail, Abraham’s God and mine! I join the heav’nly lays;
All might and majesty are THINE, and endless praise. Amen.