The family of Abraham

In The Middle East of 2002, it doesn't seem that Jews, Christians, and Muslims agree on very much. But on one fact they do concur: Abraham is considered the father of each of these religious traditions and the founder of monotheism. Rejecting the worship of idols and many gods, Abraham was the first person to conceive of only one God—a God who is always present, always caring for you. As one source explains: "In the eighteenth century B.C., in what is now southern Iraq...a man named Abram—the leader of a tribe of gypsylike desert wanderers—came face to face with a radically new concept of God. This god, whom he called Yahweh, talked with Abram. Instinctively, Abram believed Yahweh's words and acted according to His commands" (The Reforming Power of the Scriptures, Mary Trammell and William Dawley, p. 5).

Perhaps the most significant piece of information in that commentary is that Abraham acted instinctively. Unlike Moses, who lived some 500 years later, Abram, as he was then called, had no burning bush to convince him of God's authority. No thunderous voice from the clouds, no tablets of stone to carry to his family as proof of God's desire that Abram serve the "invisible" God—and to serve without dissimulation, obediently and without reservation.

Abraham's great example, beginning with his answer to "the Call" to take his family and household and leave all behind with which he was familiar, was his obedience in following God's direction—even without proof of the outcome. Genesis gives this account: "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" (12:1).

Life lessons from a Rembrandt painting
November 18, 2002

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