Abraham and Sarah
The story of Abraham and Sarah is an important one, especially because Abraham is the father (and Sarah the mother) of the Israelite nation. When looked at from a broad point of view, this story of an ancient family and their relationship with God becomes a parable which teaches others to put their trust in God and provides examples of how to live a righteous life in the eyes of this God. When looked at from a narrower point of view, one can examine the motivations and personalities of the individuals this story focuses on. Abraham is born blessed because he is the ancestor of Shem and Sarah shares in this blessing because she is his wife. However, Abraham receives an even greater blessing from God, after the death of his father, when he is promised not only a blessed life, but also a multitude of descendents who will share in his blessing and come to make up God’s chosen people. Though Abraham and Sarah express a deep faith in their God, they show difficulties in trusting his words, but this lack of trust allows for their relationship with God to be developed through acts by both parties. God intervenes on their behalf, constantly affirming his covenant with Abraham, and Abraham and Sarah consistently act in ways which prove their righteousness and that they are deserving of this great blessing. The development of Abraham and Sarah, through the story of their lives, not only demonstrates the power and emotions of God and the maturation of their relationship with God, but also the maturation of themselves and their faith in God.
Abraham is an essential character, not only in the biblical story of his life but, more importantly, in the biblical history of the Israelite nation. However, Abraham was not a flawless person and it is through the choices and actions that he carried out, both right and wrong, that his character can be understood. On one hand, Abraham represents an ideal follower of God, not only is he personally chosen to be blessed by God but, he also listens obediently and shows a strong concern for the well-being of others.
Abraham is initially blessed because he is a descendent of Shem who was blessed by Noah, however, he receives a much greater blessing than the one he was born with at the age of seventy-five. It is at this time that God tells Abraham “Go from your country, your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12.1-3) Abraham, along with his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, his slaves, and his possessions, left Haran, where he had settled, and went to the “land of Canaan.” (Genesis 12.5) This instance is also the first show of Abraham’s obedience to God. Abraham’s next show of obedience comes after God grants Abraham an even greater blessing. When Abraham is ninety-nine years old, God comes to him with a covenant to make him “the ancestor of a multitude of nations…and kings” and along with this blesses Sarah with the promise of a son and a blessing equal to Abraham’s for her descendents. Because of their blessings, God gives Abram the name Abraham and Sarai the name Sarah and as a sign of his covenant, God asks that Abraham and all the males in his household be circumcised. Abraham “circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day,” once again showing his obedience to God. Abraham’s greatest show of obedience to God comes when God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering and Abraham sets out to do so the next morning. Abraham, once again, demonstrates exceptional obedience to God, not only proving his character but also his faith, “for it is Abraham’s actions that gave shape and substantive reality to the God to whom the action was directed. Abraham’s action established his faith as well as the traditions of faith it set in motion.” (Delaney 22) Abraham’s story does more than to present him...
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