Let’s meet the father of the Jews! According to Genesis 12:1, God called a man named Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans. Where do you suppose Ur of the Chaldeans is? If you said modern-day Iraq, you are exactly right!
At this point in history, there was no such thing as a Jew or an Israelite. The Creator God was at it again! He was about to create a new people group…one to call His own, and one that would last throughout all eternity. He chose a man from Ur to be the father of that nation!
To understand a bit more about this man, let’s back up to Genesis 11:1-9. You will quickly recognize this as the account of the tower of Babel. We will hear more about Babel later in our study, but at this point, suffice it to say that Babel is synonymous with Babylon. These were idol worshippers and evil abounded. Yet, this is the area from which Abram was called!
Many Bible scholars believe that, despite evil that abounded, a handful of people actually tried to follow God. Perhaps Abram and his family fit that category. It is obvious that Abram was aware of God’s call to leave his country and his people, and he was obedient to that call. Believe it or not, God is still speaking to people in that very land and many are listening! But, more about that later in our study.
Now, let’s discover God’s promises to Abram. Read Genesis 12:1-3. Can you identify at least seven promises in this passage? The Lord provides further details of the covenant in Genesis 15:1-21, including an heir, descendants and a land. Most importantly, God Himself initiated that covenant!
Despite the covenant God made with him, Abram and Sarai were growing old and they sensed that the opportunity for child bearing was passing them by. So, in Genesis 16, we’re told they tried to help God out, by allowing Sarai’s Egyptian maid, Hagar, to bear Abram a son…which she did. This would prove to be a key link in future events, as the Arab nations would later descend from that son, Ishmael.
However, God did not give up on Abram. Read Genesis 17:1-21.
- What promises did God make in verses 2 and 4?
- What assurance did He give in verses 5 and 15?
- What promises were repeated in verses 6-8 and 16?
- According to verses 19 and 21, who is the son of promise, and how long will the covenant last?
God could not have been clearer regarding the son of promise. Though the Muslim world argue that Ishmael is the son of promise, we have God’s spoken word to Abraham. Clearly, Isaac was the son of promise.
However, re-read Genesis 17:20. Did God also make promises to Ishmael? If so, what are those promises? Does that cause you to ponder? I’ll leave you with those thoughts until later in our study. Hang in there with us and we’ll come back to that idea.
Great job digging in today! We’ll resume our treasure hunt tomorrow! Meanwhile, the issue of two sons to Abram created issues that, today, threaten to destroy Jerusalem. End your time today by praying for the peace of Jerusalem.