Several thousand years ago, there lived a man named Abraham. He is best known for his great faith in Yahweh. When Yahweh asked him to pack up all his belongings and move to a new land, Abraham obeyed. He became the father of the Hebrew nation just as Yahweh had promised.
Abraham’s name was originally Abram, which meant “exalted father.” Because of Abram’s great faith, Yahweh changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of many nations.” Through Abraham’s descendants, knowledge of Yahweh spread throughout the world.
Yahweh made a special agreement with Abraham, called a covenant. Before Abraham ever had a child Yahweh promised that his family would grow into a great nation. On his part, Abraham agreed to worship only Yahweh and no other deities.
Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren, which means she could not have children. So both she and Abraham may have wondered about Yahweh’s promises to make a great nation, since they did not even have one child of their own! As the years went by, Sarah decided to take matters into her own hands. She offered Abraham her maid, Hagar, so that he might have children by her.
So Hagar indeed gave birth to a son and they named him Ishmael. Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. Things were never the same between Hagar and Sarah. The tension between them was very evident.
When Sarah was 90 years old, angels visited Abraham and announced that he and Sarah would finally have a child together. Sarah overheard the conversation and laughed, “I am an old woman! How can I have a baby at my age?” But, of course, Yahweh did just as He said He would. Sarah gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and named him Isaac, which means “laughter” for Sarah exclaimed, “Yahweh has given me a child and has made me laugh for joy!”
After the birth of Isaac, things got even worse between Sarah and Hagar. Despite Abraham’s love for his first son, Ishmael, Sarah demanded that Hagar and Ishmael leave Abraham’s tents! Yahweh told Abraham to do as Sarah wanted, for Yahweh had future plans for the new baby Isaac! But Yahweh was merciful to Ishmael because He knew that Abraham loved the boy. So Yahweh comforted Abraham by telling him, “I will also make a great nation from Ishmael.” And so Hagar and her son were sent into the harsh desert. Hagar feared that they would die, but Yahweh promised to be with them. Ishmael grew to be an expert shot with a bow. His descendants became a large tribe of people known as the Ishmaelites. Today many Arab peoples can claim descent from Abraham’s son Ishmael.
Obviously Abraham had a deep love for Isaac since he had waited many years to have a son. But one day Yahweh commanded Abraham to take Isaac up to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. Even though the thought of losing Isaac was probably unbearable, Abraham knew he must obey. So he chopped firewood and he and his beloved son started to hike up the mountain. Isaac must have been concerned because he exclaimed to his father, “I see the wood for the sacrifice but where is the animal?” Abraham simply answered, “Yahweh will provide.”
Just as Abraham was about to slay Isaac, Yahweh called to him, ”Let the boy go! Now I know that you truly respect me for you were willing to give me your beloved son Isaac!.” What can we learn from this example? For one thing, we learn that Yahweh sometimes tests His people to see just how much they really trust Him! And another thing we can learn is that when Yahweh says He is going to do something, we must believe and never doubt Him. May we all pass the tests of life like Abraham did.
SCRIPTURE TO REMEMBER:
"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."