Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 5 – Patriarchs
Walk of faith
[Bible references: Genesis 12:1-20; 15:1-6; 16:1-5; 17:1-14; 20:1-13; 22:1-18; 24:7; 28:16: 50:24; Romans 4:9; Hebrews 11:17]
Sometime after the scattering of nations, from the line of Shem and Noah, God called a man named Abram to leave his country in the Euphrates River Valley and go to a land “I will show you.” As Abram left his home country, at the age of seventy-five, God promised not only to bless Abram and his descendants but to bless the entire world though Abram. Despite his occasional failures, Abram (later named Abraham) is noted for his faith because he believed God and showed this by being obedient in following God’s instructions even when they didn’t make sense.
When God called Abram to journey to another land, we don’t know what earlier experience Abram or his family or any other citizens of Ur or Haran may have had with God. Was there any experience at all? If not, then with what confidence did Abram have that he was following God when he took that journey to the Promised Land? Then after Abram arrived in the Promised Land, what further questions may Abram have had when he experienced a deep drought in that same land, such that he needed to take a brief trip to Egypt?
After Yahweh told Abram, that he would make a great nation from him, Abram initially expressed his faith by his obedience when he took that journey to the Promised land. Again, when Yahweh showed him the stars and told him that his descendants would be as numerous as those stars, Abram believed, and Yahweh credited that to him as righteousness. Then Yahweh reiterated the promise again when Abram was 99 years old and changed Abram’s name (which meant exalted Father) to Abraham (Father of many nations).
God told Abraham that a great nation would come out of him and Sarah. Yet, this did not look promising when the only son born to Abraham and Sarah was Isaac who was not even born until Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. No wonder that Isaac was given a name that means “laughter.”
[Bible references: Gen 18:1-8; Hebrew 13:1-2]
One day, while Abraham was sitting in the entrance to his tent, he saw three visitors approaching and offered them water to wash their feet and then went to much effort to offer them something to eat and drink. As we read this description of Abraham’s greeting his visitors, it may sound extravagant to us, but would have been normal for the culture of the time. The normal custom was to regard visitors as those who have been sent by God.
Pleading to God
[Bible references: Gen 18:16-33]
We don’t know the moment that Abraham recognized that one of the visitors was Yahweh, but it apparently happened by the time the visitors talked about Sodom and Gomorrah, which they were going to destroy. Concerned about his nephew Lot, who was living down there, Abraham made a plea to save the city if there were righteous people living in the city. At first, Abraham asked what if there were fifty righteous people living there, would they still destroy everyone there. When Yahweh said no, then Abraham asked, what about if there were 45 or 30 or 20 righteous people there. Each time, Yahweh said that he would not wipe out everybody if there were only that many righteous people there. As it turned out, both Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed after Lot and his daughters were given the chance to escape.
Faith and obedience
[Bible references: Gen 22:1-19]
In one of the most controversial events, God called Abraham to take Isaac and go to a mountain, build an altar, and then offer Isaac as a sacrificial offering. Abraham must have severely tested, but Abraham did as he was told and went through the whole process to the point where he was about slay Isaac when God provided a substitute, a ram. Isaac would indeed be the next link in the genealogical chain connecting Abraham ultimately to the birth of the Messiah 2000 years later.
Slow and steady
[Bible references: Genesis 17:5; 21:4-5; 26:34; 2 Peter 3:8]
The man who Yahweh would say would be the “father of many nations” had only one son born very late in his life and that son, Isaac, would have only twins. Even then, Esau and Jacob were born late in Isaac’s life, so the “father of many nations” would die only seeing two grandchildren.
 Although the term “promised land” is not used directly as the place of where Abram and his descendants were called to settle down in, there are several references to the “land that is promised you.”
 Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Kindle Locations 863). 1953. Kindle Edition.
 De Young, Kevin. “Passionately Pleading with God is a Good Thing”
Making long-term commitments is always an act of faith, because we never know what all the circumstances will be in the future. What long-term commitments have you made and held to even when you encountered circumstances you never planned on?
Read Genesis 12:1-20. This renowned Patriarch of faith, Abram, believed Yahweh, and left his homeland to some destination that Yahweh would show to him. When Abram arrived at the place Yahweh led him to, he built an altar and set up his tent. Good start at a life of faith. Sometime afterwards, Abraham winds up in Egypt where he is now afraid for his life and asks his beautiful wife Sarah to say that she’s his sister instead of his wife, so that they people won’t kill him to get her. This does lead to complications we won’t discuss here but just to point out that we, never mind Abram, are subject to a wavering faith. Do you have incidents in your life where your faith wavered?
What kind of hospitality have you received that made you feel special?
Read Genesis 18:1-8; Hebrews 13:1-2. In the nomadic culture, hospitality was readily shown to any visitors as they were regarded as visitors from God. What keeps us from exhibiting the same attitude?
What passionate concerns do you want to bring to God?
Read Genesis 18:16-33; 1 Samuel 7:1-9; 2 Chronicles 30:1-20; Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; Philippians 1:3-10. How are we encouraged to plead to God?
The Hebrew word, “shema,” means not just “listen” but “listen and obey.” How often do we listen intently to a friend or loved one such that we are ready to provide for any need implied within the conversation?
Read Genesis 22:1-19; 1 Corinthians 10:13. Theologians have wrestled with this passage in Genesis as we cannot fathom how God could command a human sacrifice, even if He knew how He would intervene before it would happen. How confident are you that God will provide for you in the midst of difficult decisions?
God answers prayers on his timeline, not ours. He will fulfill his purpose for us – also on his timeline. Does that make you frustrated or assured?
Read Genesis 17:5; 21:4-5; 25:19-26; 2 Peter 3:8. God renamed Abram to “Father of many nations.” Abraham. Abraham had one “child of the promise,” Isaac whose only children were twin born when Abraham was 160 years old. How do you make sense of that in light of 2 Peter 3:8?