Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Abraham is very important! If he were to fail in his witness, could it be that the knowledge of God and His plan of salvation might disappear from the world? It makes one tremble to think of it. Jesus and the apostles publicized Abraham as the "father" of all who believe--the world's example of what it means to believe in God. The gospel of justification by faith will live or die with Abraham.
The Bible story of Abraham is no glowing biography that conceals his sins and mistakes. His half-lies to the pharaoh of Egypt about Sarah his wife being his "sister," and again the same failure of faith in his affair with Abimilech, are all told openly. Not a very good beginning for the world's "father" of believing.
Then he demonstrates Old Covenant half-and-half faith in his attempt to help God keep His fantastic promise that he shall be the "the father of many nations" by suggesting to God that he make Eliezer, his trusted servant, his legal heir. God emphatically refuses this lame Old Covenant effort to help Him. No, God says; "one who will come from your own body shall be your heir" (Gen. 15:2-4).
But Abraham still doesn't get the point. Again he stumbles and staggers in unbelief. "Your own body" means with Sarah his lawfully wedded wife. But Sarah is a bundle of Old Covenant unbelief; she bitterly blames God for her failure to be able to bare a child (16:2). She comes up with the bright idea of adopting her Egyptian servant girl Hagar and constituting Hagar's offspring as hers; again helping God out of His dilemma. If Abraham is to be "the father of all who believe," true faith should have had some discernment to recognize the fallacy of this counterfeit "faith." But he falls headlong into this trap.
He has already been "declared" to the world and to the universe that he is to be the "father of many nations" in faith, and he must live up to that divinely given reputation. If he fails utterly and completely in the end, God Himself will be disgraced.
Think a moment; if Abraham had refused, he would have proved God wrong. God has risked His reputation on Abraham, and the plan of salvation, too. He has already risked it all on Job, whom Satan declared would surely "curse [God] to [His] face" if He permitted Satan to torture him sufficiently (Job 1:11). But Job has passed the test; now Abraham is a new category of risk. He too must suffer this excruciating test, or the entire story fails.
And Abraham does pass the test; thereby he "saw [Christ's] day, and was glad" (John 8:56). He knew as much as any of us mortals can learn, what it meant for the Father to give His only Son for eternity, for us. Abraham tastes a tiny bit of that self-sacrificing love, and at last confirms God's faith in humanity. We can overcome! God will have a people, 144,000 in number, all "Abrahams" who have overcome as he did (Rev. 3:20; 14:1-5). All will enter the New Jerusalem through one of the gates of Abraham's descendants. Thank the Lord--we can still learn and also overcome.
--Robert J. Wieland
From: Paper written November 2006, "The Triumph of Faith."
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