Blog & Pastor Letters

Promises of God to Abraham

03-08-2020Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Long before God called Abraham, he was an uprightman. God told him to leave his father’s house for aland he knew nothing about. The Book of Genesistells us that God commanded him to leave Ur of theChaldeans for Canaan and begin a new life. Not onlythat, God promised to make Abraham’s name great;bless him in all his ways, curse those who cursedhim, and make all the communities of the earth blesshis name as the father of many nations. The name ofAbram therefore changed to Abraham to representhis new status, and the seal of the covenant with Yahweh.

As Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans in northern Mesopotamia (in present day Iraq), he relied wholly on God's providential love. But sometimes he was homesick. In fact, he requested a wife for Isaac, his son, from his hometown of Ur in Gen. 24: 4, "You must go back to the country where I was born and get a wife for my son Isaac from among my relatives." This clearly shows that Abraham left Ur for Canaan as God commanded him. There is no dispute about his sojourn to Canaan because extra-biblical evidence exists such as the Ugaritic texts and the Ebla manuscripts. Abraham's relatives are identified as Peleg, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Haran his brother. Sarah was his wife and she was barren for some time until the slave girl, Hagar, bore Abraham a child named Ismael. Later, Sarah bore Isaac as a legitimate child with the right of inheritance from his father Abraham.

The presence of Abraham in Canaan began the establishment of God's footprint in that land. Although others existed in the land, God chose Abraham to make the place known and the people popular. This should not be misconstrued to mean that God hated the inhabitants of the land before Abraham arrived. Rather, it only shows that he chose to establish a relationship with the land and the bloodline of Abraham.

For this reason, we always refer to [Yahweh] the God of the Israelites as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Of these three patriarchs, the people of Israel established a history with God in a deeper sense. Abraham bore Isaac when he was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90.

Isaac is the only patriarch who did not move out of Canaan. Isaac's name has remained so from biblical times to the present He lived 180 years, the oldest of the three. Jacob's name was changed to Israel. From Jacob we have the twelve sons (from two sister-wives Leah and Rachel and two other half-sisters Bilhah and Zilpah) who make up the composition of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob died in Egypt at the age of 147 and his body was brought back to Canaan and buried. It was famine that prompted the entry of Jacob into Egypt through the unconditional love of Joseph, his son. The Pharaoh of Egypt favored Joseph with the position of prime minister and allowed him to move his family to Egypt.

In present day religious practices, Abraham is venerated in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The promises of God to Abraham have manifested themselves in numerous ways.

At the time of Jesus, God continued to manifest his love for the descendants of Abraham as promised. Jesus strengthened the disciples with his teachings on love. The Gospel of Matthew relates how he took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain to pray. While they were there, a light shone on Jesus and Peter demanded to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and the other for Elijah. The highlight of this experience is the voice that echoed; "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." Jesus taught people to love God and their neighbors to perpetuate God's light.

The message for this week is not complicated. There is no one who claims an affinity to Abraham that should hate another for being different. Instead of hatred, there should be harmony because God does not live in confusion. St. Paul tells the young man Timothy to bear all hardships with the power of God for he controls life and immortality. The promises of God are not empty words but real promises that come with time. Abraham obeyed God and succeeded. Will you obey God's commandments so that you may succeed? Every Christian ought to learn some lessons in obedience by reading the story of Abraham. Always remember God loves you; just learn to obey his voice. Keep praying!