The Hebrew name for Abraham, as it is known, is Avraham, he was also originally called Abram, or in Hebrew, Avram. Abraham was the first of the Hebrew patriarchs and a significant figure who revered the three monotheistic religions which are Judaism, Christianity, as well as Islam. According to Genesis, Abraham left Ur (Mesopotamia) because he was called upon by God to found an unknown land that was newly found. This land was later known as Canaan. Abraham was a firm believer and so he followed and obeyed the commands of God without question.
The stories of the patriarch, especially that of Abraham, continue to be relevant today and guide modern-day social life, politics, religion/faith, as well as the economy. The term patriarch, in a wider sense, is often used to refer to the twenty male ancestor figures lived between Adam and Abraham. In a more narrow sense, however, the patriarchs of the bible are defined as Abraham, Isaac (son of Abraham), and Jacob (Isaac’s son). Jacob is also known as Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites. The period and age of the patriarchs is referred to as the patriarchal age.
For any story to have relevance to the intended reader, it ought to be portrayed in a manner in which the readers can understand. Hence, when Moses wrote an account of Father Abraham’s life, he ensured that he made Abraham’s life and experiences relatable to his fellow Israelites. In other words, Moses’s account of Abraham’s life is in connection to Israelis who followed him. Moses wished to convey a message to his people and he wanted to ensure that the experiences of Abraham were shaped in a manner which the people of the time could relate to.
Pastors and political leaders often do the same. For example, Moses uses Israeli's history to connect Israelis to the land by saying illustrating how Israeli's life experiences were deeply rooted in the life and events of Abraham. Narrating stories with the purpose of providing someone with a model or example of similar events is a common way to connect even today. For example, when one warns someone at school or work against doing something or performing a particular activity, it is often followed by a narration of a short story of a similar event that may have occurred previously. Such briefs are provided to make the person relate to the situation and learn from it.
Abraham's stories were shaped similarly by Moses who connected the stories about Abraham to this Israelite audience. One can c0nnect such activity to current trends in socialization. Even today, people across the globe continue to use this technique not only to help others to have a clearer world view but to also help them learn from someone else's experiences by sharing stories in a manner which makes it relatable to all. When biblical writers noticed the reoccurrence of historical events, they often made the connection clear.
Of course, no two incidents occur the same; however, historical incidents do reoccur in similar manners. One such incident occurs in Genesis 12:1-21 where one sees an episode that illustrates Abraham's convent with God. It is seen in Genesis 15:17 that “when the sun had set and the darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces” (Bible Hub, n.d.) Moses describes, in his narration of Abraham’s life and experiences, that Abraham interacted with Egyptians because Israelites, in those days, often interacted with Egyptians. Also, he spoke a lot about Abraham and his connection with Lot because Israelites interacted a lot with the descendants of Lot, the Ammonites, and Moabites. He also spoke about the kings of the east as they had similar experiences with foreign kings.
Moses also wrote about God’s convent with Abraham because it was during those days that Israelites has entered the convent of God. All these similarities were purposely drawn to serve the purpose of the intended audience which were the Jews of Israel at the time. By doing this, the Jews grew closer to Abraham as they could relate to the stories of his experiences and life events.
“Get to town. Away from your family” (Genesis 12:1) (Kim, 2020). This is the beginning of God's conversation with Abraham as seen in the bible. The story of Abraham mars an age of transition in the bible. Previous to this, all stories resembled a sense of myth, such as the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the Flood. However, in this case, the stories are believed to had a historical presence. The story of Abraham resembles real cities. As it is known, Abraham's family lived in Ur and Harran and both these cities are well known in archeology.
Jesus has promised to bless Abraham and his descendants (the Jews) if he followed his orders, he did, and Jesus eventually fulfilled his promises. When an epic history such as the one written about Abram is written, there ought to be no doubt that it is indeed time-consuming. As the goal of such a historic story is to have multiple impacts of the intended audience. In fact, the intended purpose of writing on the life of Abraham was so multifold for Moses that it becomes complex for interpreters and laymen to understand the true intentions and purpose of writing it.
Abraham is regarded as the first patriarch by the Jews and he was the first person to introduce to the people the concept of a single God because before then, people believed in the existence of multiple gods. This continues to remain relevant across Christianity, Islam, and Judaism which are also the three religions wherein Abraham is seen across holy scriptures.
It is through Abraham’s story that one realizes that qualities such as leadership are never essentially a property exclusively owned by a single person. Also, it is from the story of Abraham that one learns the essence of a true leader (Nsiah, 2013). True leaders are called upon (Gen 12:1). They hear God and obey him and then go on to receive an abundance of blessings. Additionally, great leaders are worshippers. Abraham was a true worshipper and a follower of God. He was constantly seeking and crying out to God Great leaders are born out of their love of God because they know very well that they cannot lead without the presence of God in their lives. Leaders are loyal. To be a greater leader, one must first be loyal to God and others. Abraham risked his life to save Lot and this displays the essence of true loyalty and friendship.
Many such qualities of great leadership are seen by the life of Abraham. Christians across the globe continue to draw inspiration from the life of Abraham in their attempt in not just leading a truly Christian life but also in their leadership on various platforms especially, economically, religiously, and politically. According to the Bible, Abraham is the last chance for humanity to develop and establish a relationship with God. Even though Abraham was obedient to God, it is important to note that his obedience was not entirely blind. There are several instances shown in the bible wherein he is seen to be challenging God and asking questions. However, it is his trust and faith which enables him to establish a personal relationship with God.
During the semi-nomadic stage, the patriarch along with Moses took their economic health for granted. They took for granted their tribal property rights in sheep, gold, silver, and cattle. During this stage, there began a transition from the semi-nomadic life to an agricultural and urban society which was mainly handled by prophet leaders such as Samuel and Joshua (Rivkin, n.d.).
However, leaders of modern times have seemed to have digressed and possessed in greed and selfish activities. Across various fields be is economics or politics, leaders have far removed themselves from the teachings of Abraham and seem to have lost the meaning of and essence of his teachings. Even in the church, priests are often found to encourage donations to an extent where it may seem forced rather than voluntary. Greed has possessed mankind and the teachings of Abraham and God have been lost somewhere in between. The future of Judaism, from where Abraham essentially hails, depends on man’s ability to find ways to connect with God in every aspect of life and profession.
In other words in any domain of life, be it social, professional, etc. man ought to keep reminding himself of the importance of keeping in touch with his or her faith and it is only in staying connected to God can he/she move forwards in life (Halbertal Hartman, 2007). Although the life of Abraham may be divided into five segments, it is the segment where he interacts with God and God's covenant which is essentially the centerpiece of his life. Other sections of his life focus on his interaction with other people, and his life, in general, tracing his family line from the historic beginning right into the future. (Third Millennium Ministries, 2012).
Beyond anything else, the key purpose of writing about Abraham’s life was that Moses wanted to teach Israel why and how they needed to leave Egypt and move towards their Promised Land. When aiming to relate to Abraham's life and his experiences according to how it has been narrated, Christians often make the mistake of seeking direct interpretations to resonate and relate to his life and experiences. However, it is important to understand that the relationship between Christians and Abraham is a mediated one. This relationship is mediated because the life of Abraham is relevant because it is joined by Christ who is the special seed. In other words, Jesus Christ stands between Christians and Abraham and it is for this reason that Christians ought to always view the biblical stories of Abraham in light of Jesus. The scripture does not refer to multiple seeds but rather to just ‘seed. This is seen in Galatians 3:16; “and your seed” (Bible Hub, n.d.).
Ethnic diversity is seen across Christian churches today because of historical events of people being drawn to Abraham and in following him, follow Christ as he is the seed and mediator between man and Christ (O’Callaghan, 2016). Hence, by admiring Abraham and being his psychical decedents (mostly Jews), they grew to follow Christ. Also, the vast majority of the followers of Moses were both Jew as well as Gentiles. Hence, on a number of occasions in the bible, it has been made clear that the original audience of Genesis was actually not entirely or exclusively Jewish.
This diversity continues to be reflected in the modern-day church and religious leadership wherein church priests are not necessarily Jewish by descent but also hail from various ethnic and racial backgrounds as the Christian faith spread across the globe. The ethnic reality of Abraham’s seed continues to be as much a reality today as it was back then at the time of the Old Testament. Modern-day Christians often misinterpret and indulge in false teaching that the promises given to Abraham are supposed to be applied only to ethnic. God has a different plan and program for Gentile believers. They are not the heirs of the promises given to Abraham. However, it is important to remember that the seed of Abraham was ethnically diverse even then and continues to be diverse today.
The current day church is better understood in the context of the historical situation. Just as Egyptians were saved from slavery by being moved to Israel, so will modern-day christens be saved from sin by the works of Christ while he was still here. Modern-day Christians ought to remain faithful to the Word of God and follow the path of Jesus in leading a life that he intended for Christians. In living life through Christ modern-day Christians will be saved from sin when Jesus returns. The way Moses wrote Abraham encouraged and guided Israel to embark on that journey from Egypt to Israel, his stories continue to encourage and guide Christians today from a world of death to an after-life in heaven, in everlasting life in the Kingdom of God.
However, the early experiences of grace set the Israelis through a period of much testing as they moved towards the Promised Land and God was not pleased with many and so they died in the wilderness while moving. This serves as a lesson for Christians throughout decades and centuries that when live decides and strives to live life as intended by Christ, he or she will be faced with multiple challenges as tests from God. When one fails to pass these testing situations, it will not make it to the Kingdom of God.
By drawing inspiration and being guided by the lives of the patriarch, especially the life of Abraham, modern day Christians can either choose to lead in the right path set by Christ in the various domains of their lives or they can choose to digress and face the brunt of Christ and the ultimate punishment. When Christians live a life through Christ, it means that in every domain of their life, be it socially, politically, economically, etc. they keep Christ first. They keep the company to the Christians socially, they ensure 10 percent of their income is dominated to the church and thus plan their finances and economics, they ensure they conduct proper research to ensure they vote for a candidate that will do best for the nation, and most importantly, they go to church every Sunday. In times of ethical or moral dilemma, true Christians kneel down in prayer and seek for guidance from God. They ask themselves what Christ would have done in the same situation and proceed in a life that was intended by Christ.
The modern day application of Abraham’s life lies in modern day man applying the teachings learned through examples from Abraham’s life and his experiences. Christ is the seed between Abraham and other Christians; hence, Abraham is understood through Christ. The Christian approach to this section of the bible draws attention to Christ as the seed. Beyond this, however, there is also the life of Abraham and how it applies to the church and how Christians across the globe are to live their own lives according to this this part of the Holy Scriptures. By living a life that follows the footsteps of Christ and implementing his teachings in all aspects of life, modern day Christians will also move to an eternal life after death, they, too, like the Egyptians will move to their Promised Land. By implementing the teachings of the bible and drawing inspiration from Abraham’s leadership, Christians can lead in their respective lives.
Halbertal, M. & Hartman, D. (2007). Judaism and the challenges of modern life.
Third Millennium Ministries. (2012). Father Abraham. Third Millennium Ministries Inc. : Florida.
Kim, S. (2020). The Mystery of Christ.
Nsiah,G. (2013). Leading as Jesus led: Christ models of leadership. Open Journal of Leadership, 2(4), 103-105.
O’Callaghan, P. (2016). Cultural challenges to faith: a reflection on the dynamics of modernity. Church, Communication, and Culture, 2(1), 25-40. Bible Hub. (n.d.). Galatians 3:16. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/niv/galatians/3-16.htm Bibile Hub. (n.d.). Genesis 15:17. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/genesis/15-17.htm
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