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Abraham: Chosen By God

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1. Who is Abraham?

Abraham is the great patriarch of the nation of Israel. His name was originally Abram until the Lord changed it to reflect the promise to him as the father of many nations. He is the son of Terah, the brother of Nahor and Haran, the uncle of Lot, the husband of Sarah () and Keturah (), the father of Ishmael, Isaac, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah (). He is the grandfather of Esau and Jacob and on Jacob's side the great-grandfather of the 12 patriarchs of the nation of Israel.
He was called out of his land by God. There is no record of any particular thing he did that made the Lord to call him just the pure joy and choice of God brought about his calling.
When God called him, he made some promises to him, he told him at the first encounter that
>"I will make of you a great nation
>I will bless you
>make your name great, so that you will be a blessing
>I will bless those who bless you
>him who dishonors you I will curse
>in you all the families of the earth will be blessed
>or by you all the families for the earth shall bless themselves."
At the second meeting () the Lord told him
> “To your offspring I will give this land.”
Then after he left Egypt, the Lord established again his purpose and plan when he told him to
> “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” ()
The after he intervened and rescued his nephew from the people who captured him, the priest of the Lord the king of Salem, Melchizedek blessed him saying
> “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
>Possessor of heaven and earth;
>and blessed be God Most High,
>who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
()
And in response to the blessing, Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoil he got from the war.
Then shortly after these events, the Lord came to him in a vision telling him
> “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” ()
In response to what the Lord just told him, Abraham responds to God after what he just heard
>“O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
> and
> “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
()
And the Lord countered what he requested that
> “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
> “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
().
This brought about the defining response that is associated with Abraham because the text records
"And Abram **believed the Lord** and he counted it to him **as righteousness**" -
This is the one thing that Abraham did, he believed God.
He is a man who spoke with the Lord in appearance, as the angel of the Lord and in visions.
He interceded for the righteous people in Sodom when the sin coming from the place promised a certain destruction.
The after all these things, 24 years after he had left his land and his people in obedience to the word of God, the Lord appeared to him and said
> “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
> “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
> “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. **This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”**
He is a man whom though he fathered a lot of children as previously reported, it is the one child that was birthed by his original wife "when she was past the way of women" that the promise and blessing God made fell upon.

2. What is it about his blessings?

This blessing of Abraham is based on the word of God. The details or specifics of the blessings are not always reported but through the study of the text and other text we will see what the blessings mean and what it is made up of.
In vs 2 and 3 of chapter 12, the Lord said I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. In this language we can begin to see the type of promise God made to him. The first item is that he will make of him, a great nation. That could be seen as bringing out from him a nation that would be great. Then in I will bless you we see a word that could speak of praise and of blessing.
>Blessing has been most frequently understood in terms of benefits conveyed—prosperity, power, and especially fertility. This focus on the content of the benefit is now being viewed as secondary. The primary factor of blessing is the statement of relationship between parties.
When the Hebrew bible was translated to Greek, the word used to translate the meaning of Hebrew *brk* is the Greek *eulogeo* which means to speak well. With this thinking in mind, it is easier to read the whole of verse 3 where the implication of dishonouring Abram is cursing and in him all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Abraham was indeed blessed in the material sense as we see after they left Egypt and moved on across the land. The "I will bless you was not alone, it has "and will make your name great". The bible did not record the totality of the wealth of Abraham, it mentions a few of them like in things he received from Pharaoh which looks like a precursor to the Israelites leaving Egypt very rich after God opened the heart of the Egyptians. Then when he went out of Egypt in , we read that "he was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold" We were told in that God blessed Abraham in all things.
The key thing about Abraham's blessing is that it is something that would happen after him. He would receive receive some blessing in his life as we just saw but every other thing about the promise & covenant was concerning events that will happen long after him.
We see these events listed as follows
a. In the 1st encounter, it was a great nation, then name in which the families of the earth will be blessed or bless themselves by. (check )
b. His offspring which he does not have yet will the Lord give the Land.
c. An expansion of the land scope and definition of the offspring scope, which would be as countable as the dust of the earth.
d. An expansion of the offspring scope compared to the stars of the heavens.
e. The difficulties the offspring will encounter and how he will not partake of that difficulty.
f. The specifics of the land that will be given in the future. .
The relationship was about the future promise. It was about what was to come. The bulk of the promise were future events that Abraham himself would not partake of though he would start to see them come to light

3. How did he acquire the blessings?

All Abraham had was given to him by God.
It has been written about Jewish teachers who have tried to look for the special thing in Abraham that "qualified him for the blessing that God put on him and they have proposed different things.
Examples of what they have prosed include the following
>For ancient Bible readers, Abram’s backstory from wasn’t enough. Yes, God called him to be a “great nation”—but why? Was there something special about Abram that led God to choose him instead of someone else? We may wonder the same thing when we think about someone in church ministry or leadership. Why did he or she receive a call rather than someone else? What’s so special about that person?
>Ancient Jewish interpreters had similar questions about Abram’s story. To make sense of his calling, they imagined that Abram must have had a certain degree of merit—at least enough to attract God’s attention. As a result, they embellished Abram’s backstory. The idea that God called Abram simply because He wanted to, apart from Abram’s merit, was unfathomable. It required them to accept Abram’s flawed humanity, an image that conflicted with their tradition of viewing Abram as the ultimate model of faith.
>The ancient Jewish commentary Genesis Rabbah provides many examples of how Jewish interpreters venerated Abram. Written over the first 500 years after Christ, Genesis Rabbah contains extensive interpretations of the book of Genesis. It explains Abram’s role in restoring righteousness to the world after Adam’s fall brought sin into the world:
>Perhaps in the proper order of things, Abraham should have been the first man created, not Adam. God, however, foresaw the fall of the first man, and if Abraham had been the first man and had fallen, there would have been no one after him to restore righteousness to the world; whereas after Adam’s fall came Abraham, who established in the world the knowledge of God. As a builder puts the strongest beam in the centre of the building, so as to support the structure at both ends, so Abraham was the strong beam carrying the burden of the generations that existed before him and that came after him. (Genesis Rabbah 14)2
>The authors of Genesis Rabbah clearly recognized the importance of Abram’s response to God’s call. They viewed Abram’s role as an integral part of God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. But their focus was on Abram’s righteousness, not God’s faithfulness to Abram. For these interpreters, Abram’s legacy overshadowed the action of God Himself.
>The Babylonian Talmud, a Jewish collection of legal and biblical interpretations, also reflects the great weight that rabbinic interpreters placed on Abram’s merit:
The day on which our father, Abraham, died, all of the principal authorities of the nations of the world formed a line and said, “Woe is the world that has lost its leader, woe to the ship that has lost its helmsman.” (b. B. Bat. 91A–B)3
Other ancient Jewish texts further elaborated on Abram’s merit by imaginatively describing the days of his youth. They depict him as an insightful young man who, despite living in an age of idol worship, realized the truth that there is just one God.4 These stories present Abram as having worshiped the true God and battled against idol worship in his homeland—all before God called him. In these accounts, Abram’s father sold idols, but Abram crippled the family business by mocking potential customers for worshiping idols of stone—objects that had been made that very day:
… if any one accosted Abraham, to buy an idol from him, and asked him the price, he would answer, “Three manehs,” and then question in turn, “How old art thou?” “Thirty years,” the reply would be. “Thou art thirty years of age, and yet thou wouldst worship this idol which I made but to-day?” The man would depart and go his way … 5
Since nothing in the biblical account explains why God selected Abram to father a “great nation,” the writers of these stories had to come up with an explanation that made sense of the question, “What type of person is good enough for God?”

4. What is the blessing?

While Abraham himself obeyed and followed God, his understanding of the blessing that God promised him seems more in the direction of a growing and large family than things. In when God appeared to him in a vision and spoke to him after the rescue of Lot and the war with the kings, The Lord assured him that He should not fear because he is his shield and his reward will be very great. Abraham's response which usually has been action-based was now words-based.
He asked
>"What will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus and Behold you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir."
The Lord's response was a specific one, there was no ambiguity
> “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
> “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” ()
This was a specific and measurable blessing and promise. It was just like Solomon's gift after he prayed for wisdom in where the Lord said
>"I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statues and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days"
.
In Abraham, the specific was the immeasurable offspring and great nation while for Solomon, it was wisdom greater than any before and after him and wealth greater than any king living while he is alive.
The blessing is about the many nations, it is the reason the Lord changed his name from Abram to Abraham which is father of many nations and Sarai to Sarah which means princess as the mother of nations and kings. It was the opportunity to call those things which were not as though they were. The Lord indeed blessed Abraham with material things but he kept emphasizing the future.

5. To whom are these blessings promised?

The key promise of the blessing was that in Abraham shall the nations of the earth be blessed.

6. Are these guaranteed?

To take it literally, the first conclusion should point the bible student to the Israelites as they are the direct descendants of Abraham. While that is permissible, it develops the next question, which is are they what is meant by the families of the earth? That question changes the initial conclusion. Yes the Lord spoke about the offspring inheriting certain aspects of the land as listed earlier, then there is the colorful language of as many as the dust or as many as the stars. To appreciate the scope of the promise and understand the faith of Abraham, the view of these promises has to be bigger than Israel and points to the nations of world which will help the words settle in their routine use communicating the ideas of the text.
The next thing is to ask if all these nations are represented by all their members or selection of their members?
The history of the nation of Israel from their time in Egypt till they left for the promised land and the events of the promised land till they were led away from the promised land shows us that not all the nations of the earth wanted to or blessed themselves by Abraham as nationalistic entities, rather what we had was a few cases of individuals from surrounding nations proselytizing. So for each person who converts to the worship of the God of Israel, that person represents a nation among the nations of the earth who will bless themselves by Abraham.
It is also important to note that the promise was continuously made to the "offspring" and not "offsprings"

7. What does it all mean?

When such a number of chapters are studied at the same time about the life of Abraham, it is easy to get into the specifics of each event and maybe deduces some normative practices necessary for a "child of Abraham", the truth is there is the need to remember that this was a part of the revelation of the plan of God that would culminate in the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. In , a statement was made which marks the key trait of Abraham. The verse says
>And Abram **believed the Lord** and he counted it to him **as righteousness**
That was the main thing, that Abraham believed God. Paul saw this when he wrote to the Galatians in .
In 3:6-18, Paul referred to the text of when in vs 8 he said in you all the families of the earth world be blessed thereby pointing to the power of the gospel and seeing Abraham even as the father of the Gentiles in Christ for in vs 7, he says it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
It is by the action of faith and vocabulary of faith do we participate in the blessings of Abraham through Christ our Lord.
>we suggest that ḥāšaḇ in is used to demonstrate Yahweh’s reckoning of Abram’s act of faith as the deciding factor in his relationship with Abram.29 ḥāšaḇ “defines Yahweh’s momentary reaction theologically as an act of conscious judgment
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