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The Travels of Abraham by Joe Harper

Introduction

Abraham was one of the greatly used saints of the Lord in history. He was a godly man greatly used by God at a time in history where there were few true servants of the Lord upon the earth. Abraham was a sinner as all men are, and he fell into sin at multiple times in his life, but he was also a man of great faith who trusted in the promises of God. Abraham, by the grace of God, believed in the promises of the coming one, who would crush the head of the serpent, and redeem the people of God. Abraham also had faith that God would keep his promise to give him an heir and eventually as many descendants as the stars in the sky. To believe in this promise required great faith because Abraham and his wife were both well beyond their child bearing years when God promised them children. God used Abraham to move forward God’s plan to establish the Old Testament Church in the promised land of Canaan. This was all apart of God’s divine plan for the Church throughout history. God first established the family of Abraham and his posterity. Over time this family grew in numbers until it became the nation of Israel. This nation eventually produced the line of kings that eventually brought forth the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The family led to the nation which led to the monarchial line culminating in the savior. Abraham’s faith and faithful service to God is a model for all Christians to follow. The purpose of this article is to summarize the life of Abraham based on the Scriptural account found in the book of Genesis.  

 

Abram Called Out of Ur

The first eleven chapters of Genesis contains the history of the world from creation until the tower of Babel. The rest of the book from chapter twelve onwards contains the history of Abraham and his descendants. When we first read of Abraham, he is not yet called Abraham but instead Abram. Genesis twelve records God speaking to Abram telling him to leave the land of his kindred and depart for a land that the Lord would reveal unto him.

 

1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. (Gen. 12:1-5)

 

Abraham originally came from the land of Ur. The land of Ur was located in Mesopotamia. This is fascinating as this is essentially the same geographical area as the plains of Shinar. This makes sense as prior to the nations being spread out across the earth, humanity was all grouped together in this portion of the world. However, this also means that God chose to send Abram out from this wicked part of the earth that was caught up in rebellion against the Lord. God choosing Abram and sending him out from Ur is an excellent example of God extending divine grace to wicked sinners. All sinners before being saved are located in the Devil’s camp but the lord delights in plucking sinners as brands from the burning and placing them within his own household.

            So, God sent Abram out from Ur towards the land of Canaan. God also promised in chapter twelve that he would make Abram a father of many nations. God promised to bless Abram and also bless all those who would bless him. Likewise, God promised to curse those who would curse Abram. All the families of the earth would be blessed by Abram. These promises are amazing as Abram and his wife Sarai were both well beyond the age of being able to have children. Abram is at this point seventy-five years old. Despite this, God promised them a multitude of descendants. The nation that the Lord would create would be the same nation that the Messiah would be born into. Therefore, all the nations of the earth would be blessed through Abram. These promises represent the first revelation of the Abrahamic covenant. The covenant is further revealed in Genesis 15 and Genesis 17.

            The Lord was promising something to Abram that defied human wisdom. No man in his seventies with a wife beyond her child bearing years would be expected to conceive a child, let alone produce a mighty nation. Despite this, Abram believed the promises of God and obeyed the commandments given to him. Abraham was by divine grace granted faith that produced obedience to the will of the Lord.

 

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

 

Abram traveled out of Ur with his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot and his family and small contingent of others. Abram and his company traveled to Canaan. Abram then beheld the land that was promised to him and his descendants. Abram subsequently built an altar to the Lord. It was not long after their arrival in Canaan that proceed to the land of Egypt where they sojourned. Famine had overtaken the land which forced Abram to take his party down to Egypt. In Egypt, Abram fell into sin. Abram’s wife Sarai despite her advanced age was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Abram recognizing this became overcome by cowardice. Abram told Sarai that if the Egyptians knew that she was his wife, that they would kill him and take her. Abram then instructed Sarai to say to the Egyptians that Abram was her brother instead of her husband. This not only showed cowardice and dishonesty but also a lack of faith in God. The Lord had promised Abram that he would grant him and his wife a great number of descendants. Abram’s belief that he would be killed before they had been granted a child demonstrated his sinful doubt towards God.

 

Abram’s Sin in Egypt

It was not long after their arrival in Canaan that Abrahm and his followers proceeded to the land of Egypt where they sojourned. Famine had overtaken the land which forced Abram to take his party down to Egypt. In Egypt, Abram fell into sin. Abram’s wife Sarai despite her advanced age was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Abram recognizing this became overcome by cowardice. Abram told Sarai that if the Egyptians knew that she was his wife, that they would kill him and take her. Abram then instructed Sarai to say to the Egyptians that Abram was her brother instead of her husband. This not only showed cowardice and dishonesty but also a lack of faith in God. The Lord had promised Abram that he would grant him and his wife a great number of descendants. Abram’s belief that he would be killed before they had been granted a child demonstrated his sinful doubt towards God.

Upon arrival in Egypt, Sarai did as she was instructed by Abram. She told the Egyptians that she was the sister of Abram and not his wife. Sarai’s beauty was noticed among the princes of Egypt and this eventually came to the attention of Pharaoh. As a result of these events, Pharaoh took Sarai into his household. Pharaoh also saw to it that Abram was well treated alongside all of Abram’s household. The Lord did not allow Pharaoh to take Sarai into his bedchamber. Instead, plagues came over Pharoah’s house until Sarai was released. Pharoah upon discovering the truth, rebuked Abram saying “Why have you done this to me” and “Why did you not tell me she was your sister.” Pharaoh then told Abram that he could have very easily taken Sarai and slept with her. Pharaoh was clearly angry that he had been deceived and that he had been operating under false pretenses. Pharaoh then told Abram to take his wife and his company and go on their way. God had shown mercy to Abram but his sin had still caused great damage.

After leaving Egypt, Abram fell into a dispute with his nephew Lot. The herds of the two men had grown to sizes where the land was not able to support both men’s cattle. Lot was a righteous man (2 Pet. 2:7) who served the Lord. Lot had been saved by grace like his aunt and uncle. Despite the fact that Lot was a good man the issue of had reached a point where strife was rising up between Abram and his servants and Lot and his servants. Abram saw the issue very clearly and wanted to do everything he could to avoid any further strife. He told his nephew that he would give Lot the choice of the best land for his cattle. Whatever direction Lot chose to go Abram would then go the opposite direction. Lot therefore chose to go towards the plains of Jordan which led him to draw near to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram then dwelled in the land of Canaan. Therefore, Lot came to pitch his tent towards Sodom or in other words dwelled very close to the city. Sodom was an incredibly wicked city which brought righteous Lot in close contact with terrible sinfulness and evil. Eventually Lot would end up dwelling in the city of Sodom itself. This decision of dwelling in such a wicked city led to great pain and anguish for Lot although the Lord did eventually deliver him out of it.

 

War of Nine Kings

            Around this time, a great war broke out amongst the kings of this region. On one side stood four kings, Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations. On the other side of the conflict were five kings. These kings were Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. This war was therefore waged between the alliance of four kings and the alliance of five kings. This war has also been called the Genesis 14 war because it is described in that chapter of Scripture.

            The four-king alliance was a group of nations who invaded the region around Sodom and Gomorrah from the east. Amraphel the first king is notable because he is king over Shinar. This is the same region where the Tower of Babel had been built. Some of speculated that Amraphel is in fact Nimrod himself. For example, the ancient Jews were commonly of this opinion. However, this does not seem likely because Amraphel is given a different name in the book of Genesis than Nimrod. It would be strange that Moses, the author of Genesis to not indicate to us that this is Nimrod from Genesis 10. Others have claimed that Amraphel is the famous King Hammurabi who wrote the law code bearing his name. This is possible although not known for certain. Although mystery surrounds the identity of Amraphel, it is most likely that he is the son of Nimrod and Semiramis. This would make him the heir to the kingdom of Shinar or Babylon.

            The five-king alliance composed of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. These nations are notable because they included giants within their lands. Genesis six says referring to the days of Noah that there were giants in the land in those days and also after that. The words and also after that mean giant existed historically after the flood of Noah. This truth is confirmed throughout the pages of the Old Testament where giants are described repeatedly. In the great flood of Noah, God destroyed all of the giants alongside everything else that lived on the earth. God then took the rebellious fallen angels that had conceived the giants with human women and threw them down into Tartarus. This begs the question of how did giants come to be on the earth after the flood? There are two theories of how giants emerged on the earth after the great flood. The first view is that some of Noah’s family that were on the ark had some amount of Nephilim D.N.A. and giants came about after the flood from the generations that repopulated the earth. This theory would specifically point to the wives of Noah’s sons Ham and Japheth as the likely individuals who would have Nephilim D.N.A. The problem with this view is that it undermines God’s work of taking a small number of animals and remnant humans who were not genetically corrupted by the chaos of the preflood world and separating them by placing them on the ark. These considerations make the view of some of the individuals on the ark having Nephilim D.N.A. doubtful. The second view is that a second angelic incursion happened after the flood. This seems to be the most credible view.

Returning to the Genesis 14 war, Giants were amongst the population of the nations of the five-nation alliance. The Jewish historian Josephus, historically spoke of this war and the giants included in it. Josephus describing the invasion of the four kings says,

 

“The army of the Assyrians came upon them, under their commanders Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer, and Tidal. These kings had laid waste all Syria, and overthrown the offspring of the giants.” (Josephus: Book 1).

 

The conditions that led to the are described in Genesis 14. For twelve years, the five kings had served Chedorlaomer one of the kings of the four-king alliance. Finally, these kings became disillusioned with Chedorlaomer and rose up in rebellion against him. This began the invasion from the east. Genesis 14:5:7 describes the results of the invasion.

 

5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emins in Shaveh Kiriathaim,

6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.

7 And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. (Gen. 14:5-7)

 

Verse five tells us that Chedorlaomer and his allies smote down the Rephaims and other people in the regions. We confidently know from other references in the Scriptures that the Rephaims were giants (Deut. 2:11). The invasion from the east had been devastatingly effective which necessitated a decisive response from the other side. This led the five kings to meet the invasion in battle.

 

8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;

9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.

10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.

11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.

 

The alliance of the five kings was decisively defeated in battle. One of the men captured during the fighting was Lot who had gotten caught up in the war because of his dwelling close to Sodom. Troops from the defeated army informed Abram that Lot had been taken by the enemy. Lot’s capture meant that Abram was forced to rescue his nephew. Abram took his choice servants, three hundred and eighteen men and went to rescue his kin. Abram pursued the enemy to the region close to Damascus where he met his foes in battle. Abram divided his force and attacked the enemy encampment by night. The result was that Abram was able to achieve a surprise victory which freed Lot. Chedorlaomer was slain in the fighting. Abram’s victory also meant that he acquired all of the riches that the enemy kings had gathered in their invasion. After’s Abram’s victory he was met by the king of Sodom and another king who is perhaps the most mysterious figure in the entire bible.

 

Melchizedek

            The other king who met Abram was Melchizedek king of Salem. There has been immense speculation as to the identity of Melchizedek. The ancient Jews believed that he was Shem, the son of Noah. Still others throughout history have believed that he was the pre-incarnate Christ. The truth is that he was neither of these men. The Scriptures appear to intentionally hide the details of his identity. There is little information about Melchizedek given in the Scriptures outside of Genesis 14. The clearest description of him comes from Hebrews chapter 7:1-4.

 

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. (Heb. 7:1-4).

 

Hebrews chapter seven describes Melchizedek as a great king who was made like unto the Son of God. In other words, the figure of Melchizedek is described as a type of Christ. He could not be the preincarnate Christ because he is said to made like unto the Son of God. It would be illogical for Melchizedek to be made like unto the Son of God when he in fact is the Son of God

            Melchizedek was the King of Salem which is the city that later in history became Jerusalem (Psa. 86:2). This shows how Melchizedek as king points forward to Christ sitting on the throne of David. This righteous man who is a prophet, priest, and a king points forward to Christ’s three offices of Prophet, Priest and King. We know that Melchizedek was a prophet because of verse three that states that Melchizedek was without a father, without a mother, without descent, neither beginning of days or end of life. Melchizedek was like the son of God and abides as a priest continually. The description of Melchizedek in verse three is referring not to the person of Melchizedek in himself but is describing him in his role as a priest. Melchizedek did not receive his priesthood from his ancestors but was ordained to this office prophetically by God. Melchizedek’s office of prophet is accompanied by his offices of priest and king as is clearly seen.

            Abraham’s return from victory led him to be met by Melchizedek. The king of peace and righteousness greeted Abraham and congratulated him on his victory. Melchizedek brought bread and wine to refresh Abraham. The bread and wine are full of typological significance. They point forward to the body and blood of Christ. The body of Christ would be broken and the blood of Christ spilled on the cross at Calvary. The bread and wine are also used during the Lord’s Supper under the New Covenant. The Lord’s supper is a memorial remembering the work of Christ dying for the sins of his people on the cross. The bread and wine once again symbolize the body and blood of Christ. The refreshment that Melchizedek brought to Abraham and his servants typologically symbolizes the refreshment that believers find in Christ. John Owen stated this in his commentary on Hebrews,

 

“For as Melchizedek represented the Lord Christ in what he did, so Abraham, in his battle and victory, was a type of all believers in their warfare and conflict with all their spiritual adversaries. Wherefore, as he and all his were refreshed by the kingly bounty of Melchizedek, so shall they be from the munificence and unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.”  (John Owen, Commentary on Hebrews).

 

Abram was amazed by this mighty king. This king was a King of righteousness and a high priest of the true and living God. In this time in history when there were few true servants of the Lord upon the earth, Abram encountering such a godly king must have been an amazement and an encouragement unto his soul. Abram gave a tithe to Melchizedek. A tenth of all the spoils won in the battle were given to the King of Salem. Abram also spoke to the king of Sodom and promised to return all the riches taken in battle that belonged to the king of Sodom.

 

Abram’s visions and sin with Hagar

            After Abram’s time with these kings, he received a vision from God where he was told by God that the Lord was his shield and exceedingly great reward. Abram asked the Lord why he was still without a child. The Lord then promised Abram that he would receive a child and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram believed the promises that God spoke unto him.  Later, Abram fell into a deep sleep where he where he was struck with great terror. Abram was then told by God that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land and that they would be in captivity for four hundred years. The prophecy that Abram received was predicting the Israelites being enslaved by the Egyptians until the time of the Exodus under Moses. In the same day that Abram received this dream, God made a covenant with Abram where he reaffirmed the promise that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. This covenant was a further revelation of the Abrahamic covenant first revealed to him years earlier.

            Although Abram had believed the promises that God had made to him, he still faced his continual sinful doubts. These doubts eventually overcame both him and Sarai to the point that they felt that they had to take matters into their own hands. Sarai told Abram that she was old and that she would not be able to have a child. She then instructed Abram to sleep with her maid Hagar. Abram did this and a child was conceived named Ishmael. Although Sarai had instructed Abram to do this, she eventually came to hate Hagar. Hagar was in a very difficult position as she was serving a woman that now despised her very being. Subsequently, an angel of the Lord came to Hagar to comfort her. The angel promised Hagar that her son would be a father of many descendants and that he would be a man of the wild. Not long after this, Hagar gave birth to her son Ishmael. Today, the Arabic peoples trace their lineage back to Ishmael.

 

The Abrahamic Covenant

            When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and made a covenant with him. The covenant made with Abram is called the covenant of circumcision and is recorded in Genesis 17. This covenant was another revealing of the Abrahamic covenant. The Lord told Abram that his name would from now on be called Abraham and that his wife would be called Sarah. The covenant was made both with Abraham and his descendants. The Lord told Abraham once again that Canaan would be an everlasting possession of his descendants. The Lord told Abraham that for all his male descendants that the act of circumcision would be the sign of the covenant. Circumcision was an act where the foreskin of a man was cut off. Circumcision typologically points forward to the circumcision of the heart that happens when a person becomes a believer in the Jesus Christ is saved. Before salvation a man is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). When a person is saved through the work of the Holy Spirit is transformed from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. The Old man dies and the new man is born. God grants a man a new heart and a new nature. In other words, the physical circumcision of the foreskin points forward to the spiritual circumcision of the heart.

            The covenant that was made with Abraham otherwise known as the Abrahamic Covenant has two fulfillments, one physical and one spiritual. In fact, there are two covenants within the Abrahamic covenant. Abraham was the father of two seeds each being given distinct promises from the other. Once again, these two seeds were one physical and one spiritual. Abraham would come to be the father of his physical descendants who were promised the physical land of Canaan. Abraham was also the spiritual father of the those who were his descendants by faith (Rom. 4:16). Abraham’s spiritual descendants were promised the eternal Canaan that the physical land of Canaan points forward to. Canaan was a blessed land full of milk and honey. The goodness of this land points forward to the blessedness of the eternal state. In other words, believers in Jesus Christ a.k.a. Abraham’s spiritual descendants are promised blessedness in the new heavens and new earth otherwise known as spiritual Canaan. 

            The concept of two separate covenants within the Abrahamic Covenant is explicitly taught in Galatians 4:22-26.

 

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Gal.4:22-26)

 

Abraham’s two sons Ishmael and Isaac are used by the Apostle Paul to illustrate the two covenants made with Abraham. The physical covenant made with Abraham’s physical descendants is represented by Ishmael. The spiritual covenant made with the Spiritual descendants is represented by Isaac. The physical covenant is connected to mount Sinai representing the Old Covenant, the law of God and the curse of the law as no man is able to keep it. The spiritual covenant is connected to mount Zion a.k.a. Jerusalem. This covenant represents the promises of the gospel, salvation and eternal life. This distinction between the physical promises and the spiritual promises is critical for understanding not only the Abrahamic covenant but the Scriptures as a whole. The Baptist theologian James Haldane observes this distinction in his commentary on Galatians.

 

 “One great means by which Satan has succeeded in corrupting the Gospel has been the blending of the literal and spiritual fulfilment of these promises, – thus confounding the old and new covenants. The former was a type of the latter, and to this the Apostle refers, in speaking of the revelation of the mystery ‘which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 6:26). The mystery here spoken of is, the hidden meaning of God’s dealings with the posterity of Abraham, to which, in his epistles, Paul frequently refers.” (James Haldane: Commentary on Galatians).

 

Haldane correctly saw that the blending of the literal and spiritual promises has undermined the gospel in every age. Romans 9:6 says that not all of Israel are of Israel. This means that not all of the members of physical Israel were true members of Spiritual Israel. The spiritual promises of salvation were not made to Abraham’s physical seed simply because of their lineage. In fact, there has never been a time in history that someone has been saved or received spiritual inheritance because of their physical lineage.

            The two covenants, one physical and one spiritual, brings the true divine design of the Abrahamic Covenant into clear view. The separating of the physical promises and the spiritual promises allows us to see God’s purpose in the covenant. Throughout history, theologians have made the mistake of blending the promises together leading to mistakes regarding the Abrahamic covenant. Paedobaptist theologians have believed that the spiritual promises have been made to believers and their children or physical seed. They have thought that since the Abrahamic covenant was made to Abraham and his seed and since the covenant includes the promise that God would be a God to his descendants, that this means that the children of the covenant were promised spiritual promises.

            For example, Presbyterians believe that their children are covenant children with the promises of the covenant of grace extended to them. They believe that Abraham’s physical descendants were granted the promises of the covenant of grace. These promises were signified by the circumcision of all the male descendants. They also believe that the New Covenant is merely a republication of the Old Covenant which means that they are living under the same covenant as the descendants of Abraham. Baptism which is administered unto the infant children of believers is believed to be the same ordinance as circumcision but only in a different form. This understanding shows the mistake of mixing the law and the gospel. The Old Covenant was summarized by the law while the New Covenant is summarized by the gospel.

            This understanding fails to understand that the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are two separate covenants. As Hebrews 9:7 says, If the first covenant (Old Covenant) had been faultless then there would have been no need for the second one. The New Covenant has made the first one old which decays and waxes away. The belief that circumcision and baptism are the same ordinance in different forms also does not hold up. Circumcision was administered to males only while baptism is given to both males and females. There is a typological connection between circumcision and baptism. Circumcision pointed forward to the circumcision of the heart while baptism was supposed to be given only to those who demonstrate that they have been circumcised in the hearts. Baptism is given to those who believe in the gospel (Act. 2:38, 44). Baptism symbolizes the old man dying with Christ by being immersed under the water and the new man being spiritually born or resurrected with Christ. The typology between circumcision and baptism shows the concept of escalation in the Bible. While circumcision pointed forward to the circumcision of the heart, the physical act of circumcision was in no way a circumcision of the heart and was not administered to those who had been circumcised in the heart. These show the differences between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant and the dangers of blending them together.

            The Abrahamic Covenant is important because it reveals many promises for God’s spiritual people throughout history. God’s promise to Abraham that he would have as many descendants as the stars in the skies has both a physical and a spiritual fulfillment. Abraham’s sons Ishmael and Isaac were both fathers of nations with countless descendants. Abraham as the father of those who are in the faith represents the spiritual fulfillment to the promise. The saints throughout history are numerous beyond measure. The promise of that the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham is fulfilled by the coming of the messiah that is descended from him. Christ lineage goes back to Abraham and the entire world is blessed through Christ. These promises make the Abrahamic Covenant one of the landmark events in the Old Testament.

 

The Angels and Lot in Sodom

            After the covenant of circumcision was made with Abraham, the Lord appeared to him and told him to look what came before him. Three men then were seen by Abraham. These men were in fact not men at all but three angels whom the Lord had sent before Abraham taking human form. Abraham told his mysterious visitors to rest and that he would extend his hospitality to them. Abraham then instructed Sarah to prepare cakes made of flour for the visitors. Abraham truly entertained angels unawares. The angelic visitors then proceeded unto Sodom. These angels were in fact the messengers of judgement that the Lord had ordained for the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were caught up in grievous sins that had led to Lord to judge these gathering places of evil. Sodom was an especially terrible haven for sinfulness and immense depravity. The most terrible acts of immorality were committed by the people of that city without shame or remorse. Sodom was known for its homosexuality. So much so that homosexuality has historically been called Sodomy. Sexual immorality had overtaken the city as the inhabitants had been enslaved to their unnatural lusts.

            The Lord deemed fit to inform his servant Abraham of the coming destruction of these cities. Abraham when he heard news of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was shocked. Although, he trusted the Lord it was hard for him to imagine the destruction of two entire cities. Abraham then became concerned that any righteous peoples, potentially living in the city, would be caught up in the coming judgement. As a result, Abraham asked the Lord if he would spare the city if God found even fifty righteous souls within the city. The Lord then responded that he would spare the city if there were indeed fifty righteous ones found there. Abraham then repeated this line of questioning but with less people each time. He asked if the Lord would show such mercy if there were forty-five, or forty, or thirty, or twenty or even ten righteous people found. Each time, God said that he would show the same mercy if there that many righteous individuals. Abraham’s line of questioning shows how wicked Sodom and Gomorrah truly were. It could truly be said that there were not even ten righteous people within these cities. Iniquity had completely overcome these might centers of habitation.

            After their encounter with Abraham two angels entered into the city of Sodom. The angels were met by Lot who pleaded with them to lodge in his home for the night and then leave immediately in the morning. After Lot had been rescued by his uncle Abraham he had come to once again to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Lot had then come to dwell with his family within the city. Lot had seen first-hand how evil the city of Sodom truly was. He was fully aware of the wicked acts that were committed in this city. This was so much the case that Lot feared for the wellbeing for the two angels which stood before him in human form. Word quickly spread about the arrival of the two visitors within the city. Before long a large crowd of men gathered outside the home of Lot. The crowd was composed of both the old and the young from every part of the city. This crowd was burning with lust and wanted to commit sexual immorality at the expense of the two visitors.

            Lot now found himself in a terrifying position. The crowd desired to commit a great evil and they stood poised to do it. Lot went outside his home hoping to plead with the crowd to turn aside from their iniquity. Lot begged the crowd to not commit the great evil in their hearts. Instead, he made a foolish and evil proposition. He stated that his two daughters had not known men and instead offered them to the crowd. Lot was clearly overcome by fear and found himself at a loss of proper words to speak. In this moment of weakness, he found himself proposing a terrible sin in his own right. Despite the pleas of Lot, the crowd had no intention of heeding his words. The hearts of the crowd were filled with evil and they were committed to wicked task that they purposed to do. The crowd told Lot that if he did not stand aside, they would do worse to him than what they intended to do to the strangers.

            The angelic strangers then pulled Lot into the door of his house and shut it. They then struck the crowds with blindness. Even paralyzed by blindness they still tried to find the door of Lot’s home but they were unable to do so. The angels then informed Lot that he had to gather up his family together and flee the city. Lot was living with his wife and two daughters. He also had two sons in law married to his daughters. When Lot, tried to warn his sons in law of the coming destruction they mocked him. The two men were caught up in the sins of the cities and did not fear the Lord in any way at all. Judging by Lot’s words that he had spoken the night before, that his daughters had never known men, it seems possible that these two men were overcome by their unnatural lusts which meant they had never consummated the marriages with their respective brides. Although this is possible, we do not know this for sure. Therefore, these two men would find themselves in the coming destruction of the city. Lot then took his wives and two daughters and were led out of the city to safety.

            As Lot and his family were fleeing, they were warned to not even look back on the destruction of the cities of the plain. After Lot and his family were safely away, then God rained fired down upon the cities. Fire came down from heaven bringing its great heat of judgement. The smoke rose up and filled the skies. Countless souls perished under the wrathful hand of God. In an instant God put his own power on display reminding mankind how terrifying divine justice is apart from the mercy and grace of God. Abraham awoke the next morning and traveled to a spot where he was able to behold the devastation that had occurred. Abraham saw the smoke lifting up into the sky across the plain. The effects of the destruction could be seen across the horizon. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire typologically points forward to the destruction of the antichrist system by fire (Rev. 11:8).  The city of Rome (Rev. 17:18) which is the center of mystery Babylon will be destroyed by fire in a single day (Rev. 18:8).

            Lot’s family escaped but not without one casualty. Lot’s wife failed to heed the warning given and looked back upon the destruction that was unfolding. She then became a pillar of salt ending her life. Lot proceeded to the city of Zoar with his daughters and then from there up to a high mountain. After’s Lot’s escape his daughters became concerned over the continuation of Lot’s line as he had no sons. The two daughters then in the aftermath of divine judgement conceived their own plans of immorality. They made their father drink alcohol and then when he had become intoxicated, they lay with him in order to become pregnant. The result of this act was that the two daughters both gave birth to two sons. These sons became the fathers of the nations of Moab and Ammon. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites would later in history clash with the people of Israel.

 

Abraham dwells in Gerar

            The destruction of the cities of the plains led Abraham and his family to migrate south to a place called Gerar. There Abraham and Sarah met the king of Gerar called Abimelech. Abraham then repeated a sin that he had committed earlier in his life. He became afraid that Abimelech would desire to sleep with Sarah which would endanger his life. Therefore, Abraham told Abimelech was his sister and not his wife. Abraham was in this moment letting the old man of his sin nature dictate his decisions. Abimelech, based upon what he heard from Abraham, believed that Sarah was an unmarried woman. He then took Sarah into his chambers with the intention of lying with her. Then the Lord appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that he was dead because he had taken another man’s wife. Abimelech was struck with terror over hearing this. He said to the Lord that he did not know that Sarah was another man’s wife and that he had not yet slept with Sarah. The Lord then told Abimelech that because he had been unaware of the truth, that the Lord had spared him from committing this sin. The Lord then instructed Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham.

            After this encounter with God, Abimelech told his servants of all that had transpired and then called upon Abraham. Abimelech was exasperated with Abraham, asking him why he done this thing to the king. Abraham was confronted with the consequences of his cowardice. It had nearly cost him the honor of his wife and now he stood before a king facing a well-deserved rebuke. The only response that Abraham could muster was that he had believed that the fear of God did not reside in this place. Abimelech then showed graciousness towards Abraham. He restored Sarah unto him and also gave Abraham servants and cattle. He then allowed Abraham to reside in any lands within his kingdom. Abraham then before departing prayed that God’s healing would come upon the household of Abimelech. This was because the women of Abimelech’s house had become unable to get pregnant due to a curse by God. The Lord then showed mercy to all in the midst of this difficult situation.

 

The Birth of Isaac

            Finally, after many years of waiting the Lord blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son. Abraham saw fit to name his son Isaac. On the eighth day following his birth, Abraham according to the covenant made with him by God, circumcised his son. The birth of Isaac was a mighty blessing that had come demonstrating the faithfulness of God. God had kept his promise to Abraham and Sarah just as he had told them he would. However, the birth of Isaac also brought strife into the Abraham’s household. The consequences of Abraham’s and Sarah’s former sins still rippled down to them long after they had been committed. When Abraham held a celebration commemorating his son, Hagar the Egyptian mocked Isaac. This was the same woman who Abraham had conceived his son Ishmael with. Now the birth of Isaac had led to the arising of hard feelings and strife. Sarah heard the mocking of Hagar and felt threatened by her comments.

            Sarah went to Abraham and begged him to send Hagar and Ishmael out of their midst for good. Abraham now felt inner conflict in his soul. Although Ishmael was not the son of the promises made by God, he was still Abraham’s son. Even though Ismael had been conceived in sin, Abraham was still his father. The Lord then came to Abraham and told him not to be grieved about the situation. The Lord then reminded Abraham that Isaac would be the one from whom the nation of Israel would come. The Lord also promised Abraham that because Ishmael was his son that God would make him a great nation. The Lord then instructed Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away as Sarah had instructed. Even in the midst of this difficult situation the Lord had his providential purposes which he intended to fulfill in his good time.

            Then Abraham rose early in the morning and sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham provided Hagar bread and water and then sent them on their way. The departure was an emotional affair especially for Hagar. It is never easy to be informed that one is unwanted anymore in a place. Hagar was also overcome with anxiety over what would become of her and her son. Her emotions welled up inside her until she could no longer contain it. She cried out to please don’t let me see the death of this child and then she began to weep. Then the Lord sent an angel to reassure her. The angel said “fear not Hagar for God has heard the voice of the boy” The Lord reassured Hagar that he planned to make Ishmael a great nation. Ishmael would not only survive the wilderness but he would as the Lord said come to thrive. He found great success as a hunter and also took a wife from amongst the Egyptians. In good time he would become the father of a great nation.

 

The Test of Faith

            Then, one day the Lord came to Abraham and put before him a severe test of faith. The Lord instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac to mount Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham dearly loved his son Isaac and was now being asked to kill his own son. Isaac was the son that God had promised to use in fulfilling the promise that Abraham would become the father of a great nation with numerous descendants. Abraham’s mind knew the implications of what he was being asked to do and he was forced to trust the Lord in the midst of this trial. Abraham was obedient to God and took Isaac to the mountain. After three days journey Abraham and Isaac reached the mountain. Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain while the servants who had accompanied them waited behind. Isaac knew that they were planning to make a burnt offering to the Lord but he did not know what was truly transpiring. At one point he even asked his father where was the lamb for the offering. Abraham told him that the Lord would provide the lamb.

            Abraham prepared the wood for the offering and then he bound up his own son. Finally, Abraham took the knife and was prepared to kill his own son for a sacrifice. Despite, Abraham’s dear love for his son he acted in faith in obedience to God. Then, at the last moment, the Lord stopped Abraham telling him to not lay a hand upon the boy. The Lord then told Abraham that he had shown his fear of God being willing even to kill his own son. The Lord then provided an animal for the sacrifice which was made by Abraham and Isaac. Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh which means the mount of the Lord. Mount Moriah is located in Jerusalem today. The near sacrifice of Isaac typologically points forward to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Just as Abraham was willing to spare not his son so too did God, the Father spare not his own son (Rom. 8:32) when he sent him to die as a sacrifice, on the cross, for the sins of sinners. The mountain where Isaac was nearly sacrificed is located in the city where Jesus Christ was himself killed centuries later.

 

The Death of Sarah

            Now when Sarah reached the age of 127 years she passed away in her old age. Abraham’s faithful wife went to be with the Lord. Abraham was stricken with grief and wept over the loss of his companion. Although Abraham’s loss was great, Abraham was also determined to find a resting place for Sarah’s body. He then went to the sons of Heth and negotiated with them for a burying place. The sons of Heth had great respect for Abraham and desired to help him in his task of burying his wife. Then one called Ephron the Hittite came from amongst the crowd and spoke with Abraham. Ephron and Abraham came to an agreement that Abraham would purchase a field from Ephron which would serve as a burying place for Abraham’s kin.

 

Isaac’s Marriage to Rebekah

            Abraham was now old and weak. He knew that before long it would be time for him to go to be with the Lord himself. However, before Abraham left this world, he desired to set his affairs in order and ensure that his son Isaac would be prepared for life without him. One of the great needs that Isaac had was to marry a young woman who would be a godly companion for him. Abraham aware of this great need entrusted his servant with the task of finding the right woman for his son. Abraham instructed his servant to return to the homeland of his kin to find this young lady. Abraham desired to find a woman who would serve the Lord alongside his son and he believed that his homeland would produce such a woman. Then Abraham’s servant did as he was instructed and traveled back to Mesopotamia.

            He then arrived in the city of Nahor. In this city, the servant took his camels and stopped by a well where the local women often attended. Then, the servant prayed that God would bless his search and send the right woman into his midst. The servant then prayed that the Lord would make it evident to him who is the right lady by providentially having her offer a drink to the servant. The Lord then saw fit to answer his prayer. A young woman called Rebekah, came to the well. Rebekah was related to Abraham. She was in fact his niece. This woman was the one whom the Lord intended Abraham’s servant to find.

            The servant then asked Rebekah for a drink of water whom Rebekah gladly gave to him. She then offered to get water for his camels. The servant then knew that this was indeed the woman he was meant to find. The servant then went with Rebekah to her home where he spoke with her family. The servant spoke especially with Rebekah’s brother Laban, explaining to him that his master Abraham had borne a son who now was grown to manhood and in need of a son. Laban when he heard these things realized that the Lord wished Rebekah to go with the servant to marry Abraham’s son Isaac. Therefore, Rebekah traveled back with the servant to Abraham’s household. Upon their return, Isaac took Rebekah and married her. He fell deeply in love with his wife. The two would come to serve the Lord together for years to come.

 

Death and Burial of Abraham

Now when Abraham came to the age of 175 years old, he passed away and went to be with the Lord. Before he died, Abraham left everything to his son Isaac. Upon the death of his father, Isaac met with his half-brother Ishmael and the two men buried their father in the Cave of Machpelah. The cave was located in the field that Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite. Abraham had lived a full life that had been blessed by the hand of God. Now the promises that God had made to Abraham for a nation to be birthed passed on to his son Isaac. Abraham was a faithful servant of God and a man of great faith. His example continues to inspire and teach the Lord’s servants even many centuries after his death.

 

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