Saturday, June 27, 2009

A tale of three father's: Abraham

"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 show thee: ...So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him..." Genesis 12:1-4
There are many great men in scripture, but few stand out like Abraham. He is called the "Father of faith".
First of all, it must be pointed out that Abraham was not perfect. The great thing about scripture (and one of the proofs of it's validity. After all, if it were, as some suppose, written after the fact as a way to try and prove the validity of it's teachings, the many faults of the people would not be included. These things would've been left out as a way to show how great the religion was, not included.), is that it always speaks the truth.
The great Abraham, who left home, family, and friends behind at 75 years old, because God had spoken to him, made many mistakes (don't we all?). He lied to at least 2 kings to protect his own skin. He displayed an appalling lack of faith, as well as caused many a problem for people today some 4000 years later, by accepting his wife's handmaid as a second wife in order to try and raise up the heir that God seemed to not be bringing. The resulting child, Ishmael, was not the promised son through which the Messiah would come. Rather, he became the father of the Arab world that gives us and Israel such a hard time. Sin does effect others besides the one who sins, even 4000 years later.
So why is he called the Father of faith? He left his homeland on a promise that he would be given a special land of his own, but he wasn't told where it was or how long it would take to get there. He repented when he messed up, but never permanently lost his faith in God. Probably the biggest reason, however, is that he had so much faith in God that he was willing to sacrifice the very son of promise- Isaac- when he was asked to, believing that even if God didn't stop him from doing it, then God would certainly raise his son from the dead! (Hebrews 11:17-19)
As we discussed before, to get back on topic, Abraham and Job were both alive at around the same time period. We already know why God did not choose Job to be the Father of many nations through whom he would bless the world- his parenting style. Why then did God choose Abraham?
We've already seen that Abraham was not perfect. Seemingly, in some ways, he was not as devout a man as Job was, so why Abraham instead of Job? The answer is simple and wonderful. It is also attainable for us today! Not being the "Father of faith" or the "Father of many nations". Those titles will forever belong to Abraham.
We can, however, obtain the blessing of God for us, our children, and those we come in contact with. Abraham was told in Genesis 12:1-4 that God would bless those that bless Abraham and curse those that curse Abraham. Can we attain this promise for ourselves? Yes, I believe we can. But what was it about Abraham that qualified him for this promise?
"And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Genesis 18: 17-19
So what were Abraham's qualifications and what is the pattern for us to follow?
First, God said of him, "I know him..."! This is very important. God didn't say, I used to know him or I will know him, he said (present tense), "I know him". The first qualification is to be in current, active, and intimate relationship with God! When Adam and Eve were married, it says "and Adam knew Eve.." in reference to their intimate loving relationship together. God desires to "know" each and every one of us. He desires to have that spiritually intimate relationship with US! The first step of qualification is for us to "be born again". Acts 2:38 is the ONLY New Testament plan of salvation. It says for us to "Repent, and be baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." If you haven't done that, you will be unable to do the rest and you'll miss the blessings God has for you.
Second, God says of Abraham that "he will COMMAND his children and his household after him.."! The second key, father's, is that we are to BE THE HEAD OF OUR HOMES! We are not to cower to the wife and children and let them do whatever they wish and order us around. We are to be THE AUTHORITY in our home. A word of caution here is needed, however. This authority does not make us a dictator. If we are a dictator, we break 2 New Testament commands for us to follow and, therefore, disqualify ourselves as taking part in the promise we are studying today.
One is the command for us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF for it. This is not a dictatorship, but rather a loving and self-sacrificial leadership that puts her needs before his own, up to and including being willing to die for her safety!
The other command is the admonition to "provoke not your children to wrath". This, again is not a dictatorship. Rather, it is loving leadership that doesn't mind explaining why we do this and don't do that. A dictator will cause his children to become bitter and end up suffering the wrath of God.
However, it also is an attitude of "the buck stops here." The final decision maker in the home is the Father! The wife and children have the right to give input, but his final and prayerful decision MUST be followed by all in his home and he must love them enough to COMMAND that they not cross the line.
The final qualification is that his family will, as a result of his Godly leadership, "keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement.." If we lead in a way that helps them to follow God's ways, then the result is a Godly home and Godly children!
But here's the real kicker, though: "...that THE LORD may bring upon Abraham (us) that which he hath spoken of him."! Even in this doing, God promises those of us who meet his qualifications, that he will help us to meet them and bring his blessings and promises to bear in our lives! What a promise and responsibility! God wants to bless us, our homes, and our family tree after us. What he needs is for us to lovingly submit to him in obedience.
Next time we will study, "An Isaac Faith". Until then, God bless!