The Birth and Early Life of Abraham
This is the genealogy of Shem … then Shem begot Arphaxad, then Arphaxad begot Salah, then Salah begot Eber, then Eber begot Peleg, then Peleg begot Reu, then Reu begot Serug, then Serug begot Nahor, then Nahor begot Terah, then Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. (Genesis 11:10-27)
And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, 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 Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:28-32)
It was time. It was God’s time to continue with His plan of salvation by picking out an individual who would be the father of faith for all who would be justified in God’s sight. This continuation started with Shem, the father of the Semitic peoples. His family line continued nine generations to Abram, and Abram (“high father”) would become Abraham (“father of a multitude)—the father of the Hebrew and Arab people.
Abraham is a huge Biblical figure, being the father of faith to all who believe—whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7-9). Ultimately, Abraham’s family line would continue all the way to Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Messiah and Savior of the whole world (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; 1 John 2:2).
Looking at a graphic of the overall lifespans from Noah to Jacob’s son Joseph, one can see that Shem was alive for Abraham’s entire lifetime … due to the fact that Shem lived to be 600, while Abraham lived to be “only” 175. Another interesting chronological note: Noah also was still alive by the time Abraham was born! What this shows is that there was contact from generation to generation in those days. Therefore, God’s truth and deeds could easily be preserved and furthered.
God still works His plan through willing human beings. Shem showed fear and respect for God by covering his father Noah rather than exposing him as Ham had done, and God used him. Abraham lived a godly life and was obviously a willing vessel, bringing glory to God (Matthew 5:16).
For Further Review
1. Consider the historical events leading up to Abraham … the creation, the fall, the beginnings of civilization, the universal spread of depravity, the flood, the earth’s repopulation, the tower of Babel, God’s judgment which brought the confusion of languages and the geographical spread of the world’s population. Spend some time meditating on the big picture of the mercy and patience of God. Praise Him for His longsuffering nature.
2. Why was Abraham an important historical figure? What does his life mean in relationship to plan of salvation for the whole world?
3. Have you ordered your life that you may be a willing and available vessel for God’s purposes? What can you do to ensure that God can use you?