The Beginning in Abraham
This article may be the most difficult to write because it requires alot more of reflection and observation rather than simple comprehension of literal texts which I use throughout the remainder of this blog.
There are many stories in the Bible that show us how God deals with people and the lessons and examples that we can learn when it comes to our personal walk. My personal favorite is the story of Joseph and his brothers, but even with champions such as David, whom God said was a man after His own heart, there is only one individual which the Bible points to as being the chief example of our walk with God. This is Abraham.
The importance of Abraham comes to us on many levels.
Not only is Abraham the father of Israel, and the spiritual father to all those who would be grafted in through Christ, but he was the one who inherited a covenant which contained the prophecy of Jesus Christ in whom all the nations would be blessed. It would be in God’s interaction with Abraham where we would see the first real foreshadowing of Jesus Christ and Calvary. Besides this, there is a great deal more about Abraham which applies to the personal and spiritual aspect of our lives. It is this spiritual aspect that is often overlooked especially by those who want to place more of an emphasis on how we identify to God and Israel through the works of the Law. I would assume that no one doubts the origins of Israel and the people of God, nor would they doubt the foreshadowing of Calvary contained in the story of Isaac on mount Moriah. What I wish to show, is that the purpose of the Cross, the crucifixion of our self, and the life of righteousness by faith, as it pertains to the individual life of a person, begins in Abraham.
The reason this is so important, and/or controversial, is because it will show that we are identified to God through the Cross of Jesus Christ by faith and not through Moses and the Law. It will also show that what God intended in the Cross for our personal experience, was revealed and dealt with in Abraham. This is why Abraham is not simply an ancestral figure and patriarch, but a spiritual forerunner.
Before we get into specific scripture, let me first say that I am in no way stating that the covenant with Moses is inferior or contrary to the covenant with Abraham. They are however, different from each other. It is the covenant with Abraham, that God says will be an everlasting covenant for him and all his descendants. Lets read:
“And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:7)
It is this covenant with Abraham which would be the foundational covenant not simply the initial covenant. It is very important to recognize that what we see in Abraham is not an initial or temporary situation. What we see in him contains the full context of what would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. God did so foreknowing what would occur in the Exodus, and their possession of the land, yet God claims that this would be the covenant for the generations to come.
“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve, I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possession.’…On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates-.” (Genesis 15:13-18)
It is also Important to note that the New Testament never once states that we are grafted in because of Moses, but because of Jesus who is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. This I will cover in more specifically in the next chapter:
Part 5 The Truth of Israel: The People
But for now, lets deal with the spiritual application of Abraham.
Here are the main points I will cover:
1)Called and Chosen by God and Separated to a Personal Relationship
2)Righteousness by Faith
3)A Covenant and a Promise
4)Sign of the Covenant
5)Abrahams fulfillment in the Flesh
6)Abrahams fulfillment by God
7)The Surrender and Sacrifice
8)The Entry of Jesus Christ
Already, just by labeling the chronology of Abrahams life, the spiritual application becomes apparent to us and this is very similar, if not altogether, a direct analogy or allegory of our personal experience through the Cross and living by faith.
In point 1, What we see is how God chooses us out of the blue, so to speak, and separates us unto Him. We see this also with Jesus when He says:
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…”John15:16)
and in the Epistles:
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, CALLED to be an apostle, SEPARATED to the Gospel of God.”(Romans 1:1)
“Just as He CHOSE us in Him before the foundation of the world…”(Eph.1:4)
“who has saved us and CALLED us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace…” (2 Timothy 1:9)
In point 2, What we see is God crediting Abraham with full righteousness in His sight because He believed God, and what God claimed about Himself and for Abraham.
I don’t think any explanation is needed here, because we all know this is the way in which we can come to God because of, and through Jesus Christ and His Redemption on the Cross.
In point 3, What we see is God recognizing Abrahams faith and entering into a covenant with him. (Genesis 15,17).
This covenant is not just an agreement between God and Abraham, but a blessing and purpose for Abraham, and a blessing and purpose for all those who would follow in this Covenant of belief and faith toward God and His claims.
“that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith…For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…And if you are Christ’s then you are Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:14, 26, 29)
In point 4, What we see is God giving what would be a sign for all those in the Covenant, which is circumcision.
Equally important is the fact that this covenant was made and sealed without works, which Paul specifically points out:
“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.”
Where this becomes applicable to us is that we will see how the issue of circumcision is about the removal of the flesh, but not our physical flesh, but rather the sinful nature inherited from Adam. The example of the flesh is played out in Abraham’s impulsiveness to take upon himself the fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose.
In point 5, What we see is what I mentioned above. Abraham has up until now, believed God for the fulfillment of things he could not see, but it was the promise of an heir and seed which would bless the nations, that Abraham doubted God to fulfill. He and Sarah took it upon themselves to use the maid as a way of conceiving a child. This story for us, has become the prime example down through the ages about the distinction between faith and flesh, or Spirit and flesh. This story is still being played out today in the Jewish-Arab conflicts, because as the Jews are descendants of Isaac, the son of promise, the Arabs on the other hand, are the descendants of Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman.
“But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise. Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar-.” (Galatians 4:23-24)
In points 6,7,8, What we can see is that God has fulfilled His promise to Abraham, beyond Abraham’s capabilities and efforts. One very remarkable verse in all this is when Abraham says to God:
“Oh, that Ishmael might live before you! Then God said ‘No’…”(Genesis 17:18-19)
Abraham no doubt, loves Ishmael, but it was not according to God’s plan. It was only by God’s working that the child of promise would come to Abraham, and subsequently, Christ would come from him. The last and greatest part of Abraham’s life, would come when God required him to sacrifice this very son whom He had promised. It is one thing for God to reject the son who was born of the flesh, but for God to now require the life of the chosen son, is a whole different matter. Yet, Abraham in his experience knows to trust God.
While there can be many analogies made about Abraham and Isaac on mount Moriah, and how God provided a lamb, the one which I will use has to do with the Cross in our personal experience. It is one thing for us to reject sin and the flesh, but what Abraham ultimately experienced was the relinquishing of self. Abraham is not sacrificing Ishmael, the son which wasn’t promised; he is sacrificing what was promised to him, yet now God requires him to give that up. It is at this point where we understand the duel nature of our flesh and how God wishes to address those corners of our lives that we reserve for ourselves. Not just the bad, but the good also, and when we surrender that to God, we can then see the fullness of Christ in our lives and we can bring our own Isaacs into this world to bless all nations. Let’s read what Jesus says concerning this:
“He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)
It is also what the Bible refers to as our old man. The Cross doesn’t just provide forgiveness for sins, it deals with the source of sinfulness:
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with…”
In summary, the importance of the story of Abraham is that his personal experience and victory with God, is what we would be the great aim and purpose of God through Jesus Christ. The Redemption of Jesus Christ is the great notion of God to reconcile us to Himself, but even more, the story of Abraham reveals to us the manner in which we are reconciled to Him. We see this happening on a personal level where God not only puts into motion what would result in Jesus Christ, but secures the faith, trust and relationship with Abraham that would be made available to us through Jesus Christ.
For more on Abraham and God’s people,
Please see, Part 5 The Truth of Israel: The people