Abraham is a key figure in Judaism, Christianity and even Islam. He is referenced more than 260 times in the Bible and over 70 times in the New Testament. He was born in the tenth generation from Noah through the lineage of Shem.

Originally named Abram, which means “high father,” he grew up in Ur of the Chaldees. (Gen. 11:28) When he was grown, God told him to travel to Canaan. Abram, Lot and their wives as well as Terah, Abram’s father, did as God commanded. When Abram was 99 years old, God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” (chap. 17:5,6) At the same time, God promised that Abraham and his wife Sarah would have a son, Isaac.—vss. 15-19

Abraham was a man of many Bible firsts. He was the man first identified in the Scriptures as a prophet (chap. 20:7), although in Jude 14 Enoch (who came before him) is also identified as a prophet. He is also the first man described as a “Hebrew.” (Gen. 14:13) This is appropriate since he is described as the “father of many nations.” (chap. 17:5) Abraham is also described as the first man who put faith in Jehovah. (chap. 15:6) This is affirmed in Romans 4:11 where he is described as “the father of all them that believe.”

Abraham’s deep faith in God was characterized by his obedience throughout his life. He left Ur to move to Canaan. He acquiesced to God’s will when asked to offer Isaac as a “burnt offering.” (Gen. 22:2) His faith was rewarded when God intervened. Abraham pursued a strong enemy to rescued Lot’s family even though they were outnumbered. He willingly paid tithes to Melchizedek when he met Abraham returning from the victory over Lot’s enemies.

During his life, Abraham became a very wealthy man. He had great flocks, much silver and gold, and hundreds of servants. Despite his wealth, he was not materialistic, but he focused on doing God’s will. Abraham forbade idolatry within his household. Because of his faith in God and obedience to God, Abraham was described as a “friend of God.” (James 2:23) Truly, Abraham is a father figure in the Bible and is an example of faith down to our day.

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