Jesus and Abraham
What do you think about when you first hear about Abraham?
That he was going to sacrifice his son?
That he sent his other son out into the desert, along with that son’s mother, where they would die of starvation, dehydration, or get eaten by wild animals?
Yes, that was Abraham.
So does that make you immediately think of him as a model for Christ?
No, of course not.
And yet, in some ways he does prefigure Christ.
Adam and Eve
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they were sent east.
When God called Abram (not yet Abraham) to found a new nation, He called him from the east, so it was symbolic of leaving sin behind and coming back into the presence and favor of God.
For Abram to leave Ur (modern day Iraq) and his father’s home, was a radical action on his part. In that time and place, the head of the family or tribe was somewhat like a king.
Earthly kings are symbols of God. Even in societies that worship multiple gods, the kings or emperors claim a direct association with those gods. Sometimes they even claim to be divine themselves. The Egyptians and some of the Roman Emperors certainly made that claim. In Judaism and Christianity, the king is not God Himself, but acts under the authority of God.
So when Abram left his father’s home and followed the call by God, it could be seen as an act of disobedience towards his father, but it was really his response of obedience in saying, “yes” to the higher authority of God.
God’s Promise to Abraham
God promised Abraham that He would be the father of many nations. This happens first with the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Israel is Abraham’s grandson, through Isaac. He was named Jacob, and then re-named “Israel” in Genesis 32:29 by the angel, and affirmed in Genesis 35:10 by God.
By the time they leave Egypt, it’s about 500 years after Jacob, his 12 sons, and the rest of his family initially traveled there because of the famine. And in those 500 years, the descendants of Abraham have greatly multiplied. They’ve become 1 nation with 12 tribes.
But God’s promise in Genesis 17:5 was that Abraham would be the father of a multitude of nations, and in Genesis 12:3 that all of the families (or nations) of the earth would be blessed through Abraham and his descendants.
Jesus Fulfills that Promise
Jesus fulfilled that by coming first for the Children of Israel, and second for those outside of the covenant. This is what Paul tells us in Galatians 3:8.
Before St. Paul wrote that letter, Jesus commanded His followers to fulfill that promise.
The Great Commission
The very last thing that Jesus said before He ascended into Heaven was,
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
This is what is called, “The Great Commission.”
His command is to unite all of the nations under God, because division never comes from God. The things that divide us here on earth are always because of sin—either our own sins, or the sins of others.
Just as God is one (one God, three persons), His desire is for us to become one, united in Him.
This is how, and why, God continues to fulfill the promise that He made to Abraham.
Posts in the Series: Jesus and the Old Testament
Jesus and Abraham (this post)
Jesus and Moses
Jesus and Joshua
Jesus and David
Jesus and Jeremiah
Jesus and Elisha