God’s Big People – Abraham

By Not Known

Every story line has a cast of characters. Many of them play important but smaller parts – they add ‘colour’ and detail and are a necessary part of the plot. There are also the larger characters whose actions ‘turn the hinge’.

This is equally true in the story that we call the ‘history of redemption’. This is ultimately the story of God’s eternal choice to save and how it worked out in Biblical history. God’s story is worked out through significant people as well as through the little people of his kingdom.

Matthew shows clearly in the introduction to his Gospel (Matt 1:1-17). He presents a family tree of Jesus which is summarised at both its beginning and its end in terms of the line of Abraham / David / Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1:17).

Let’s look at Abraham.

We first meet Abraham as an idol-worshipping man from Haran and then Ur in modern Iraq (Gen 11:27-31; Acts 7:2-3). Abraham became significant by God’s choice. God made covenant with Abraham with the promise of him becoming a great nation, occupying vast lands and being both blessed and a blessing (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17 etc). This was not only true for Abraham but also for his descendants, as symbolised by the old covenant sacrament of infant circumcision (Gen 17:1-14). Abraham’s part was to trust God sufficiently that he would leave the comforts of Ur and go to a yet-unseen and unknown land. That’s faith on the move!

Abraham’s significance is shown in the number and importance of his mentions in the Old and New Testaments. Consider, for example, the importance of claiming Abraham as ‘father’ in Jesus’ day (eg Lke 3:8; Jn 8:31-40). Paul takes this a dramatic step further when he asserts that all who believe in Jesus are Abraham’s children (Rom 4:16-17). The claim that Abraham was put right with God by his active faith and not his works is even more startling – Abraham was a gospel man who anticipated the era of Jesus (Rom 4:1-11).

All this reshapes the way we think about Jesus and ourselves.

Jesus was not an accidental hero who stumbled into his decisive role against the flow of history. Rather, Jesus was the intentional conclusion to the story that began when God chose Abraham.

As for us, we are the ingrafted and adopted children of Abraham (Rom 11:17-24; Gal 3:26 – 4:7). Let’s thank God for our father Abraham and for his descendant Jesus who makes this possible.