The Call of Abraham

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Terah had three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran (Genesis 11:26). Abram was probably born in Ur (near present day Basra in Iraq). He married Sarai prior to moving to the city of Haran (Genesis 11:29, 31). Both Ur and Haran are cities in Mesopotamia. Please note that Haran was located some 600+ miles northwest of Ur. The journey from Haran to Canaan is about 400 miles.

In Genesis 12:1-3, we see the call of Abram by God. God calls Abram out from his home in Haran and tells him to go to a land that he will show to him. God also makes three promises to Abram: (a) The promise of a land of his own; (b) the promise to be made into a great nation; and (c) the promise of blessing. What makes Abram special is that he obeyed God (Genesis 12:4). He left behind everything and migrated to Canaan (Palestine) when he was 75 years old.

In other words, God has spoken (Genesis 12:1-3), and Abram responds by believing God (Genesis 12:4). This is faith. God made a promise, and Abram showed a saving faith in God’s promise by turning his back on his past and setting out for Canaan.

God called Abram out of a pagan culture. Abram was a Gentile who was chosen by God to be the ancestor of the Jewish people. He lived in Canaan as a stranger, and God promised that his descendants would own it (Genesis 17:8). His descendants (12 sons of his grandson Jacob and their descendants) would become God’s chosen people. By the time of Exodus 1, the descendants of Jacob were recognized as a distinct nation in Egypt. No one was called a “Jew” before the exile (II Kings 25:25). The Jews came from Abram/Abraham because he was chosen by God from among the nations to be the origin of a new nation.

Why did God choose Abraham? God wanted to make him a blessing, first to the nation that would come from him—the Israelites—and ultimately to all the people of the earth. Also, God chose Abraham to prepare the way for the Messiah. God used him to play an important role in the story of redemption, culminating in the birth of Jesus.

But Abraham was far from perfect; he was a sinner like us. Before God changed his name from Abram to Abraham in Genesis 17:5, he had sex with Hagar (Genesis 16:4) and Hagar conceived. Later, Isaac was born to Abraham in his old age (Genesis 21:2).

The Arabs are mainly descendants of Abraham’s son with Hagar, Ishmael. The Jewish people are descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac. Arabs and Jewish people are Semitic by race. Today, generally speaking, some Arabs have a dislike of and distrust for some Jews, and vice-versa. However, we must be careful to avoid stereotyping people. Please note that life of Abraham is taken as an example of outstanding faith in God (Hebrews 11:8-12) by both Arabs, Jewish people, and Christians.

Indeed, from the very beginning, God had in view that Jesus would be the descendant of Abraham and that everyone who trusts in Jesus would become an heir of Abraham’s promises. God blesses people from all nations through Abraham. After we become the disciples of Jesus, we must learn to live by faith. We must continue to trust God in all situations.

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