Father Abraham

Father Abraham

DAY 8 OF 10

Preparation and High Priestly Prayer: John 15:1–17:26

Now we come to the final step of Moses’ record of Abraham’s life, his progeny and death in Genesis 22:1–25:18. These episodes focus on Abraham’s legacy, which extended his covenant relationship with God to future generations. In general terms, the Israelites who first received these stories from Moses should have learned much about their own status as Abraham’s heirs, and about the hopes they were to have for their own progeny.

The first episode in this portion of Abraham’s life is the well-known story of Abraham’s test in 22:1-24. This test was designed to determine if Abraham loved God more than he loved his son Isaac. God initiated a difficult test, calling Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham complied, and God assured Abraham that the result of his compliance would be a very bright future for Isaac. 

Although there were countless implications of this story for the Israelites following Moses, the most prominent feature of this passage was that it reminded them that God was testing the nation of Israel to see the depth of their loyalty to him. God initiated many tests for the nation of Israel in Moses’ day. And Abraham’s compliance to his test reminded them of their own need to comply with these tests, no matter how difficult they were. And the affirmation of Isaac’s grand future as Abraham’s progeny reminded the Israelites of the grand future they themselves would have if they passed these tests. 

The second episode of the last step of Abraham’s life is the story of the patriarch’s purchase of burial property in 23:1-20. This story describes how Abraham acquired a family burial site in Hebron when his wife Sarah died. The narrative emphasizes that the patriarch did not accept this property as a gift, but rather that he purchased it. This deed of property established his family’s legal right to see the land of Canaan as their homeland. 

The Israelites following Moses understood the importance and implications of this purchased burial site for their own lives. It was their ancestral burial site. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all buried there. They understood that it was their legal possession in the land, even prior to the conquest. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob spent much of their lives in and around Hebron. The Israelites were so committed to Hebron as their ancestral homeland that they even carried the bones of the patriarch Jacob back to Hebron for burial. This story about Abraham’s purchased burial land demonstrated that the proper place for his descendants was none other than the land of the Canaanites. 

The third episode of Abraham’s progeny and death is a touching story about Abraham’s daughter-in-law, Rebekah, who became the wife of his special son Isaac in 24:1-67. In this story, in order to ensure that Isaac would avoid Canaanite corruption, Abraham insisted that Isaac not marry a Canaanite woman. But Abraham also insured that Isaac would remain in the land of Canaan, the land of promise, by sending a servant to bring a wife to Isaac. By finding a wife for Isaac in this way, Abraham insured a great future of blessings from God for Isaac and his descendants. 

The Israelites following Moses should have learned from this story that Isaac, their ancestral connection to Abraham, remained pure from Canaanite corruption even as he maintained his homeland in Canaan. Isaac’s bright future of blessing would be their future as well, so long as they also resisted the corruption of the Canaanites who dwelled in the Promised Land. 

The final episode of Abraham’s life is the story of the patriarch’s death and heir in 25:1-18. This collection of several brief accounts lists Abraham’s sons by wives other than Sarah. Then it turns to the patriarch’s death, during which Isaac received Abraham’s final blessing as his legal heir. Finally, it closes with a contrasting section that briefly lists Ishmael’s descendants. 

This closing of Abraham’s life had many implications for the original audience. It listed the other sons of Abraham to distinguish them from the Israelites. It highlighted Abraham’s final blessing on Isaac to assure the Israelites following Moses that they were the true heirs of Abraham’s promises. And it mentioned Ishmael’s descendants to dispel any claims the Ishmaelites might have made to Abraham’s inheritance. By closing his account of Abraham’s life in this way, Moses settled the identity, rights and responsibilities of Abraham’s true descendants, the Israelites whom he led toward the Promised Land. 

So we see that Moses wrote his stories about the life of Abraham to teach the Israelites he led why and how they should leave Egypt behind and move toward the conquest of the Promised Land. To accomplish this goal, Moses stressed in various ways in each episode of the patriarch’s life how they were the heirs of the grace given to the patriarch, how they were responsible to be loyal to God as the patriarch had been responsible, how they would receive blessings from God as Abraham had, and how they would one day bless all the nations of the earth. Moses’ account of Abraham’s life had immeasurable implications for the Israelites who followed him toward the Promised Land. 

About this Plan

Father Abraham

This reading plan explores the account of Abraham's life in Genesis from a distinctly Christian perspective in order to answer questions such as: What did these stories mean for those who first received them? And what do...

We would like to thank Third Millennium Ministries for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://thirdmill.org

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