Archive for October 9th, 2020

“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

 About Abraham:  Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at age 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs—and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Reflection: Abraham’s genealogy is stated in Genesis 11:  24—31 and the narrative proper of Abraham commence in Genesis 12: 1.  Up until this point in Genesis, in chapters 3-11,  everything is fairly well screwed-up after the Fall when Adam and Eve bit into the serpent’s lie, “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:  ff):   

murder (Genesis 4:7-9)  vengeance (Genesis 4:23-25)     

first murderer builds first city  (Genesis 4:17)                                                                                                                                                                                                             

violence (Genesis 6:11)  

God’s judgment: The Flood 

drunkenness (Genesis 9:21)     

 skyscrapers for security and by that: “making a name for ourselves”  (Genesis 11:4)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

We can read Genesis chapters 3—11 every day, not only from the Holy Scriptures, but also in the so-called daily ‘news’, but it is really the ‘olds’: murder, vengeance, violence, drug abuse.  It’s as “old as Adam”.

With the Lord’s Call to Abraham, what was violent, vengeful and idolatrous, is replaced by what is human and humane in Abraham. And it is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Not our doing!  The Lord does something new beginning in chapter 12, verse 1:   He calls Abram.   Why is the Lord’s Call the beginning of humanity and humaneness?  Here was a man, Abraham, who did not want to be like God.  He had faith.  He knew he was created and not the Creator:   Abraham was truly a man by faith alone. How does faith come?  It comes by preaching and teaching of the Word and the Word is Christ.  The Lord was with Abram and he heard and he believed.  Abraham never saw the fulfillment of his offspring as the stars in the sky: only one son, Isaac.  One son is enough.  Still Abraham did not see for he walked by faith and not by sight, as we all do. He did not found a new religion but Abraham is called the father of Faith. In fact, he was not a Jew, but a believer in the God Who called him. In fact, one of his descendants, Joseph, would also be a man of faith, not having faith in himself.  After Joseph is reconciled with his 11 brothers, after 20 some years of bitter family envy, lies and estrangement, he declared to them:  “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:  19)  I think Abraham could have asked that question as well.

I will go out on  limb here. A rough and tumble older guy said to me in the locker room at the “Y”, knowing I am a pastor:  “I don’t think we were made to behave.”  His statement took me aback but I wanted to agree.  I did not say anything in response at that time.  I think he was right.  Behaving has to do with Law, after sin entered the world.  The key verb in the guy’s statement was “made”, “created”, the Lord’s purpose for men and women, made in His image.  We weren’t made to behave but we were made to believe.  What the serpent sold Adam and Eve with was unbelief: “to be like God, knowing good and evil”, no longer trusting, hoping and loving their Lord, but only seeing themselves, and so separation from God and each other began, that is, sin which is death.  Thus they were ashamed of their nakedness.  Abraham believed.   Abraham certainly did not behave too well!  In order to insure a descendant, when Sarah could not conceive, she  gave Abraham her slave Hagar with less than satisfactory results until the Lord intervened. As He has for us all, in the descendant of Abraham according to the flesh:  Jesus.  As the Lord crossed the chasm to Abraham, now in Jesus Christ He has crossed the chasm of sin and death by His death and resurrection by His promise or Gospel alone.

Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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