What Does Abrahamic Faith Mean?
One of the Bible characters revered by Christians, Jews, and Moslems alike is the patriarch Abraham. To the Jews, Abraham is the ancestor from whom the Hebrew people sprang. They look back to him as Father Abraham, the first Hebrew, the man whose dealings with the Lord God of heaven and earth were the foundation of Israel's intense monotheism-belief in one God only and its religious worship in the midst of pagan nations serving a multitude of idols.
To the Moslems, the followers of Mohammed, Abraham is remembered and revered as the father of Ishmael and grandfather of Esau, ancestors of the Arabian people from which Mohammed sprang and in whose land Islam, the Mohammedan religion, began and is yet centered. Islam, too, with its worship of Allah alone, has always been intensely monotheistic.
Christians, also, with the Old Testament as an integral part of their Bible, regard Abraham with affection and respect, remembering that the very first verse of the New Testament speaks of Jesus Christ as "the son of Abraham." Christians, too, claim to worship only one God - the God of Abraham - the Lord God of heaven and earth. It cannot be denied that the true Christian faith of the New Testament is thoroughly monotheistic.
Abraham, thus, is seen as the physical or spiritual ancestor of peoples who alone in a polytheistic or atheistic world teach the worship of the one and only God. Abraham appears as a great beacon light in the history of man-kind - one of those extremely rare individuals who tower head and shoulders above the common lot and from whose lifetime a new era can be dated.
It is no wonder, then, that Abraham is mentioned time and time again in the New Testament, that he is held up before the eyes of Christians as an example whose faith and obedience to God are to be followed. It is strange to hear professing Christians today dismiss Abraham's life and faith as having little importance for us, in light of New Testament teaching to the contrary.
The Apostle Paul, for example, in the midst of his great doctrinal epistles to the Romans and Galatians, makes it a point to bring into his discussion the faith of Abraham. Almost the entire fourth chapter of Romans is taken up with this matter. In verse 11, Paul calls him "the father of all them that believe," that is, of all true Christian believers. If you are a real Christian, should you not wish to know something about one who is called your father? In verse 12, he is called the father of those who walk in the steps of his faith. It is apparent, then, that the faith of Abraham, or Abrahamic Faith, is. or should be an important matter to Christians.
Galatians 3, also, is largely concerned with the Abrahamic faith. Here, Paul stresses the great importance of the covenant God made with Abraham. The Apostle points out that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is the promised Seed of Abraham. (V. 16.) He goes on to declare that those who belong to Christ, who have been truly baptized into Christ, have also now become the seed of Abraham. Let us read verses 26, 27, 29: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. ... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
From the Bible standpoint, it is a momentous thing for a person to be reckoned of the seed of Abraham. Paul implies as much, when he declares that those who are Abraham's seed are "heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). It is obvious that an heir should be interested in his inheritance, and if we are heirs as Paul says, we should have a vital interest in what we are to inherit.
This inheritance is inseparably joined to a certain "promise" connected with Abraham. Notice Galatians 3:18: "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." What is this. promised inheritance and what part do Christians have in it as the seed of Abraham?
The writer of Hebrews, summing up the history of Abraham from the Book of Genesis, says in Hebrews 11:8, 9: "By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country." This land in which Abraham sojourned, or lived as a stranger, was the land of Canaan, later called Palestine. It says that Abraham was to inherit this land "afterwards" and calls it the land of "promise." Verse 13 says that he died in faith, not having received the promise. In Acts 7:5, the martyr Stephen refers to the same fact, declaring that God gave Abraham "none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him."
This might seem like a contradiction - that God promised Abraham and his seed the land of Palestine as an inheritance - and Abraham died without ever inheriting it, first living there as an alien and a stranger.
But just here is where the Abrahamic faith comes in. Abraham believed in resurrection, that God is able to raise the dead. Hebrews 11.19 states as much. Though he died, not ever receiving the promised inheritance of the land, this could not frustrate God's purpose or promise. There is a resurrection coming some day, and then, according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, Abraham will have his inheritance in the Kingdom of God. (Luke 13:28, 29.) This Kingdom will be established on the earth when Christ returns, and will have its center in the Promised Land. The Abrahamic faith holds dearly to God's great promises, for "if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Our faith and hope as Christians, as the seed of Abraham, look forward to the inheritance with Abraham in the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God on earth, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. This is what "'Abrahamic faith" means!
The Restitution Herald, Oregon, Illinois 61061 Printed in U.S.A. Order No. W-3
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