In his final address to the conquering Israelites, Joshua recounted their history. He quoted God, saying, “Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River, led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants” (Joshua 24:2–3, CSB). Abram, or Abraham, was raised in a pagan home where they “worshipped other gods.” In God’s grace-filled sovereign plan, He invited Abram to embark on a faith-journey that would last a lifetime.
Abram’s story begins in the eleventh chapter of Genesis with a genealogical review of the family of Shem, the son of Noah. “These are the family records of Shem ... Arpachshad ... Shelah ... Eber ... Peleg ... Reu ... Serug ... Nahor ... Terah ... and Terah ... fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran” (Genesis 11:9–26, CSB).
With that as background, the twelfth chapter of Genesis opens with an incredible promise, the Abrahamic Covenant, God’s covenant with Abram and his offspring. “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you’ ” (Genesis 12:1–3, CSB). (That’s a Messianic prophecy! All of the earth was blessed by Abram’s great, great, great... grandson, Jesus!)
Abram wasn’t perfect, and some of his human frailties are recorded for us. But, for the most part, Abram followed God faithfully. In Genesis thirteen, after Abram parted company with Lot, his nephew, God renewed the covenant with Abram and his descendants. “Look from the place where you are. Look north and south, east and west, for I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust of the earth, then your offspring could be counted. Get up and walk around the land, through its length and width, for I will give it to you” (Genesis 13:14–17, CSB). God promised that the Hebrew people would possess the land of Canaan.
As Abram and Sarah grew old, they remained childless. So God “took him outside and said, ‘Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘Your offspring will be that numerous. Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness’ ” (Genesis 15:5–7, CSB). Abram was saved by faith. Because he trusted, God graciously credited righteousness to his eternal account.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, ‘I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless. I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly... You will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations... It is a permanent covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you. And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a permanent possession, and I will be their God’ ” (Genesis 17:1–8, CSB).
A year before Isaac was born, Abram, the exalted father, became Abraham, the father of multitudes... by faith. God also promised Abraham, and all those who followed after him, that the God of the universe would be, by faith, a personal God in a living and loving relationship with His chosen people. It is by grace through faith that we are eternally blessed by the Son of Abraham, the Savior, Jesus.