The Bible say why God selected Abraham to serve as the progenitor of this people, the “father of all who believe” (Rom 4:11). But it’s likely that the man’s willingness to obey, regardless of circumstances, played a role in the Lord’s decision. Abraham’s bold faithfulness and fearless approach to serving God certainly set him apart from his contemporaries.
When God told Abraham to take his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot and leave his homeland and everything he had known for the first 75 years of his life to go to some distant land called Canaan, Abraham pulled up stakes and ventured into the unknown..
When the time came for Abraham and his nephew Lot to go their separate ways, Abraham gave his nephew first choice as to where he would settle. Lot chose the well-watered Jordan Valley near the city of Sodom. Abraham took what was left, confident that God would help him prosper, regardless of Lot’s selected.
When God revealed his intention to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the wickedness of their inhabitants, Abraham, in a stunning display of compassion and courage, humbly urged God to consider the people who weren’t wicked. “What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? Will You really sweep it away instead of sparing the place the sake of the 50 righteous people who are in it?. . .Suppose the 50 righteous lack five. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” (Gen 18:24,28).
Abraham negotiated the number down to 40, then 30, and then 20, Mustering his last bit of courage, Abraham convinced God to spare the city if just 10 righteous people could be found there (Gen 18:22-33). Alas, it turned out that not even 10 righteous people could be found in Sodom and Gomorrah, so both cities were destroyed when God caused burning sulfur to rain down on them (Gen 19:23-25).
GENESIS 15:6 – “[Abraham] believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
Abraham’s relationship with God wasn’t all peaks, of course. His renowned boldness and courage occasionally deserted him. On his way to Canaan, for instance, Abraham had to pass through Gerar. Abraham feared that the king of that land would take an interest in Sarah, who was very beautiful, and have him killed. So he told Sarah to tell the king that she was his sister, and not his wife. Abraham allowed Sarah to be taken away and allowed the king to gave him flocks, herds, slaves, and camels for the privilege of marrying his “sister.” Ultimately, though, the truth came out, and Abraham and Sarah were sent on their way.
And when God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son, even though they were very old, they underestimated his power to make it happen naturally. Sarah gave Abraham her much younger handmaiden, Hagar. With Hagar, Abraham produced a son and named him Ishmael.
But that was not God’s plan at all. When Sarah eventually gave birth to Isaac, conflict developed between Abraham’s two “families.” the tension became so unbearable that Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, into the wilderness, where they would have to make their make on their own (with God’s help).
When Abraham had an opportunity to redeem himself, however, he showed what bold faithfulness really looks like. God presented Abraham one day with perhaps the most gut-wrenching command in all of Scripture. He instructed Abraham to offer a burnt sacrifice to him-only, instead of killing a lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham was to kill his beloved son Isaac.
Abraham didn’t negotiate this time. He didn’t question God or hesitate. He immediately made the necessary preparations, gathered Isaac, and set out for the place where the sacrifice was to be made. When they arrived he prepared the altar and laid Isaac on top of it.
Genesis 22:10-12 picks up the story from there:
Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the Angel of the LORD called to him form heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
He replied, “He I am.”
Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.”
Abraham demonstrated the depths of his bold faithfulness under the most extreme circumstances imaginable. And he learned how generously God rewards such faithfulness when god said.
“I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will posses the gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.” (Gen 22:17-18)