BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND THE GOD OF ABRAHAM
Text: “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”- Matthew 22:31-32, NLT.
Introduction: The life of Abraham has always fascinated me since I was a young believer. At first, I greatly admired such a man who had the faith to leave all he knew and headed out to a place with which he was unfamiliar, only in obedience to God’s call. I marveled at his willingness to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. In fact, sometimes, I despaired somewhat – if Abraham is the father of all those who have faith in Christ (Romans 4:11), how in the world am I supposed to live up to a faith like his?
However, I missed the essence of the story. All the while, in reading the patriarchal story, I was focused on the wrong person. I missed the whole essence of the Abrahamic story. My focus was on the man, the ‘great’ man of faith. Perhaps, because I am a product of our celebrity-driven, personality-worshipping culture? We have been trained to look up to the great founders and builders of our nation, our religion, our society. We talk about the grace of God, but in an age of self-help mania, we not only admire people of great success but also tend to worship them, in our own 21st-century-way, of course. Leaders and pioneers of faith are no different, in our own judgement. Even more, they deserve our respect and admiration for their huge accomplishments. Therefore, we hold up our faith leaders in such high esteem that many only despair of never achieving that level of holiness and ‘accomplishment’. However, the irony does not appear obvious to us, just like it was not obvious to me too – that a man or woman of faith really cannot and does not do anything of himself, except through the power and grace of the One in whom he or she has trusted.
The story included Abraham at the center of it all but it is not about Abraham. It is about the God of Abraham. All along, the story has been about God and his purposes. The main story is the God who identified Himself in terms of a mere mortal, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3: 6, Matthew 22:31-32). Not even a righteous, God-worshipping mortal for sure; but possibly an idol worshipper (Joshua 24:2) just like his fathers and neighbors. The story is about the God of recovery and redemption. The One who, of his own accord, has decided to begin the work of recovery for a fallen humankind. Moreover, his choice was Abraham. Not an Enoch or Noah, but an Abram to begin with. It is about the God who originates grace and salvation, and works insistently on his chosen instrument until His will is done. No wonder, Jesus also refers to Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as proof of the resurrection as well. He does not pick an Abraham and discard him from the work of redemption he initiated with him. In the resurrection, there will be Abraham standing tall, not because of his faithfulness, though he was faithful, but because of the God who is so committed to redemption that he resurrects his Abrahams. Abraham is alive today in God's glorious kingdom, not because of his greatness, but because of the God of resurrection - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, in Abraham’s story, God shines ever more brightly.
Joy and peace in believing, a fitting response. Because he is the God of Abraham, we ought to have hope. His also our God. He became the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that He also may be our God. The One who chose Abraham while he was merely Abram and worked with him until he became the Abraham of God, is also hard at work in our lives. In Abraham’s God, we have come to hope. We believe in the same God, so we have joy and peace in believing. He is the God of the living, and keeps Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob alive with Him. Therefore, we hope and dare look forward to the resurrection when we can be with Him forever. So, bring it on – the whole story of Abraham’s faith and journey – it warms our heart with joyful anticipation of God’s marvelous work of grace in my own life and yours
This series is inspired in part by brother Watchman Nee’s Changed Into his Likeness. Copyright 1967 by Angus I. Kinnear.