The Old Testament patriarch, Abraham, is mentioned 76 times in the New Testament and over 200 times in the Bible as a whole which places him in the top ten names overall. Clearly, his place in Israel’s story is significant and culminates when he is mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 1 as the first name included in Jesus’ genealogy that spans from Abraham to Joseph.
So, what’s the big deal? What made Abraham so special that Matthew started Jesus’ family tree with him? God began his redemption story by calling Abraham (then called “Abram”) from Haran and asking him to journey to Canaan. Although we don’t have a lot of details about the way God convinced Abram to leave the land of his family, Acts 7:2-3 records Stephen’s word:t “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’”
Paul picks up that theme in Galatians 3:7-9 when he writes: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
Both Jews and Gentiles can point to Abraham as their “father” in a sense, not by what he did but by his faithful obedience to God’s call. Earlier in the chapter, Paul expands on this point by emphasizing that for Jewish “pre-Christian” adherents, a misguided focus on the Law negated what Abraham was lauded for – his faith.
That’s why Abraham should be included in Jesus’ family tree. His descendants not only provided the lineage to the Savior, but he was a revolutionary thinker. Abraham recognized that responding in faith was what ultimately pleased the almighty God.. For the first time in history after Jesus’ death and resurrection, a deity could be satisfied, propitiated even, through an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an acceptance of the sacrifice made in our place.
Abraham did not understand the significance of his call and the blessings bestowed on him and his family at the time, but we can. We can recognize that God’s providential, eternal plan of salvation for all of humanity was launched when the Father asked a simple ancient Middle Eastern man to leave his country and follow God’s leading.
God, I acknowledge that so often I get caught up in my own temporary problems that seem so overwhelming at times and I miss that your eternal plan of salvation took thousands of years to work out. Help me see the big picture like you do, focusing on you, the author and perfecter of my faith.
Throughout This Day: Meditate on the kind of faith it would have taken for Abraham to leave his family and head for an unknown place because some mysterious voice or sense spoke to him. How amazing it is for us today to follow that example.
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