(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Hebrews 11:8 through 10 introduces us to another hero of faith:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and mak- er is God.
Known then as Abram, He is shown in the picture leaving “…Ur of the Chaldeanes…” (Genesis 15:7). For God had told him to leave in Genesis 12:1 through 3. These three verses are known as the Abrahamic Covenant:
Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
But he did not leave alone. We are told in Genesis 11:29 and 31:
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran...[who had] died before his father...in his native land...and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to [the city of] Haran and dwelt there.
Haran was still 300 or so miles from the Promied Land, “…a land [that God said] I will show you.”
Abram didn’t leave the city of Haran until after his father Terah died, according to Acts 7:4. “And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:4). So, although he ultimately obeyed God’s command, it took him some years to actually fulfill what God had called him to do! This is, perhaps, the first sign that Abraham had feet of clay!
If you read the last Gem, the term “feet of clay” comes from the description of the statue about which King Nebachudnezzar dreamt in Daniel Chapter 2. The statue was made from materials of decreasing value, from, “…a…head was of fine gold…chest and arms of silver…belly and thighs of bronze…legs of iron…[down to] feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (Daniel 2:32, 33). It was the feet partly of clay that were vulnerable! When struck on the feet by “…a stone [that] was cut out without hands…” (Daniel 2:34 – the stone represents Christ’s kingdom) the whole statue disintegrated! (see Daniel 2:35).
How did Abram become Abraham? In Genesis 17:1, 4-8, God reminded him of the covenant He had made back in Genesis 12:1 through 3 (above):
The LORD appeared to Abram...[when he] was ninety-nine years old...and said, “...behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham....I will make you exceedingly fruit- ful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My...everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I will give to you and your descendants... the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
The sign of this covenant was thereafter to be the circumcision of every Israelite male.
- Abram means, “high father,” (Strong’s Hebrew Dicitonary).
- Abraham means, “father of a multitude,” (Ibid.).
Sarai’s name was also changed: “…Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and also give you a son by her…and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” (Genesis 17:15, 16).
- Sarai means, “dominative,” (Ibid.).
- Sarah means, “princess,” (Ibid.).
What makes Abraham a hero of the faith?
- As said above, he was the recipient of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:1 through 3, made by God unconditionally (dependant only upon Him) giving Abraham and his descendants the Promised Land of Canaan forever!
➪ Genesis 12:2 – God would bless Abraham, making him into a great nation, and He would make his name great, and he shall be a blessing! ➪ Genesis 12:3 – Those who bless Abraham and his descendants God will bless! Those who curse him shall be cursed by the LORD! And all the fami- lies of the earth will be blessed because of Abraham’s faithful life!
- He is the father of…
➪ the Arab Muslim world through his son Ishmael. ➪ the Jews through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and his twelve great grandsons, the sons of Jacob. ➪ all non-Jewish people of faith in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. For it says in Romans 4:11 (International Standard Version): Afterward he received the mark of circum- cision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncir- cumcised. Therefore, he is the ancestor of all who believe while uncircumcised, in order that righteousness may be credited to them. ➪ Also in Romans 4:16 through 25, Abraham is held up as the example of all who are saved by faith, believing God’s promises: (It is a long passage, but I think it is a very good description of Old Testament salvation by faith – believing in what God has promised! It is really the same as now ...believing God’s promise that Christ died and lives again for me!): Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed – God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be." And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the dead- ness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised be- cause of our justification.
So Abraham was a great hero of the faith! What were his feet of clay?
- He twice lied concerning his wife, Sarah!
➪ During a famine in the land of Canaan, recorded in Genesis 12, Abram and Sarai his wife journeyed down to Egypt to wait out the famine. And it came to pass when he was close to enter- ing into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife;’ and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live....when Abraham came into Egypt ...the Egyptians...commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharoah’s house. And he treated Abram well for her sake....But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues ....And Pharaoh called Abram and said....“Why did you say, ‘She is my sister?’...now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.” (Genesis 12:11-19). ➪ The second time was later, after Abram’s name change to Abraham – Scripture declaring in Genesis 15:5 and 6: Then He [God] brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them....So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He account- ed it to him for righteousness.
This was the patriarch’s salvation moment! God had promised him that he, at age 100, and Sarah, at age 90, would have a son! And Abraham believed Him! Paul, in Romans 4:21 and 22, agrees that this was Abraham’s conversion: “…being fully convinced that what [God]…had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to [Abraham]…for righteousness.”
But again, to protect his own hide, he passed Sarah, his wife, off as his sister – this time to “…Abimelech king of Gerar…” (Genesis 20:2). In so doing, he put the lives of the king and his people in jeopardy! (see Genesis 20:7).
- As said before, the LORD had promised a son produced from Abraham and Sarah’s own ancient bodies! (see Genesis 15:2-5). This promise was given probably when Abraham was in his late 70’s or early 80’s – and Sarah was ten years his junior. In Genesis 18:11 we are told, “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age, and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.” So, they decided to help God out! She gave her Egyptian maid Hagar to be her husband’s second wife. “‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain [a son] by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.”
➪ Yes, Hagar became pregnant! ➪ Yes, a son, Ishmael was born to Abram at the ad- vanced age of 86! (see Genesis 16:16). ➪ But Ishmael caused heartache and trouble for his father and mother (see Genesis 21:8-11). And the boy’s descendants – the Arab Muslim world – have been a massive thorn in the side of Israel down through the centuries!
I think you can see that Abraham, though a great hero of the faith, had feet of clay………. like the rest of us! Yet God mightily blessed and used him! Not only is he the biological father of the Jews, but Paul says in Galatians 3:7 (Contemporary English Version), “The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham.”
And in Romans 4:16 (Contemporary English Version):
Everything depends on having faith in God, so that God's promise is assured by his great kindness. This promise isn't only for Abraham's descendants who have the Law. It is for all who are Abraham's descendants because they have faith, just as he did. Abraham is the ancestor of us all.
Truly, God is still in the process of fulfilling His promise He confirmed to Abraham in Genesis 17:4: “…behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.” Truly, Abraham is a hero of the faith! So…
…if God can use Abraham to bless the world,
He can also use you and me!