In my last post on Abraham I want to look at how Abraham lived after Yahweh cut a covenant with Him. He had two more recorded failures; in one he was again deceptive about his relationship with Sarah (Gen. 20:1-7). The other was his relationship with Hagar that produced Ishmael. Scripture records that Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16) and we have no record of Yahweh interacting with him again until he was 99 and Isaac was promised as a child to Sarah. It is in this encounter (Gen. 17) that Abraham had his named changed from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham, (father of a multitude) and Sarah has her named changed from Sarai to Sarah (princess).
15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” 19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22 Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. Genesis 17:15-22 (NKJV)
Abraham interceded for Ishmael but while Yahweh promised blessing to Ishmael and his descendants He said He would only establish His covenant with Isaac.
The other great change that following Yahweh cutting a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15) was that he became a great prophetic intercessor. He interceded with Yahweh to have Sodom spared and in his intercession said one of the things that often touches and comforts my heart, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” It was a rhetorical question; assuredly He did, would and does.
We think we are doing well when we reach 100 years. After Isaac’s birth, Abraham was 100 at the time; he lived 75 more years, with no recorded failures and carrying a heart to bless others.
During this time period he did two very significant things. The land had been promised to him by Yahweh and sworn through a covenant, yet He still had to do something with the promise. Likewise, though we have many potential spiritual blessing we often have to do something to position our heart to receive them. We cannot earn blessings, wages are earned, and blessings are gifts that are given. Yet often we need to be in the right position, whether it is geographically, walking in the right relationship that will help us receive, or having the right heart posture. Positioning ourselves is like picking up a cell signal. The signal is there in the room but unless my phone is turned on I won’t receive anything.
What significant things did Abraham do? First, he purchased Sarah’s burial plot. Though he lived in a land promised to him by Yahweh he had to purchase a portion. What is the further spiritual significance? Jacob/Israel told us just before his death.
29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. Genesis 49:29-33 (NKJV)
Years ago a dear friend and I were discussing where she wanted to be buried, my question was, “Who do you want to be resurrected with?” It hearkens back to what Israel said to his sons when he died in Egypt.
We can also reflect on what happened at Jesus crucifixion. At His physical death when He had paid the price for sins Jesus atonement released a foretaste of what awaits all who believe in and receive Him.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:51-53 (NKJV)
The burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah was south of Jerusalem but perhaps they were some of the ones who were resurrected in this unique event and appeared to many in Jerusalem.
The other significant thing Abraham did was walk in obedience prepared to sacrifice Isaac. The story is told in Genesis 22:1-19, some key verses are below.
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:2 (NKJV)
5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5 (NKJV)
18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18 (NKJV)
The above verses highlight some key points. Isaac is referred to as Abraham’s only son. Biologically he was not, but in terms of affection he was. They walked three days to Moriah (the modern day temple mount, near where Jesus was crucified). Abraham told the men with him that he and Isaac were going to worship and return. His confidence in Yahweh’s character and covenant had so grown that he believed if he was being called to sacrifice Isaac then Yahweh would raise him up as the promise was to and through Isaac. The last key point was the promise that through Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. This promised seed is Jesus and His sacrifice of Himself released salvation to the earth.
May we be like Abraham and lay down the things He calls us to lay down that we may walk in His promise and provision.