Some Introductory Words
These bible study blogs are a new idea that we are going to try; if they work for you we will carry on with them changing them as we get your feedback. If they aren’t useful we’ll bin them.
The idea is that we take a bible theme, here it’s the life of Abraham, provide some basic facts to guide your reading and then proffer some questions that we can discuss on line. We will then arrange a time when we can meet as a group to discuss. The leadership team are not going to provide lectures or point you to a commentary that we all follow; our belief is that the bible speaks to each of us and it is important that we develop the confidence to meet it personally.
If any one has a “technical” question post it on line – you won’t be the only person not to know where Ur is! If the Lord speaks to you as you are studying please share it with us.
Abraham: a man of Faith
Abraham is a giant in the Christian faith; St Paul wrote “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” (Rom 4:16). Below is a potted history of his life and some questions to share but before you go any further I want you to do something.
Take a piece of paper or open a new doc and right down the things you know about this guy. Keep your jottings safe because we are going to look at them later.
The story Abraham is, mostly, found in the book of Genesis from his conception in Chapter 11 verse 26 till his burial in Chapter 25 verse 11. We are unsure of exact dates but assume he was born about 2,000 years before our Lord you’ll be in the right ball park. He was originally called Abram until God gave him the name Abraham (Gen 17:5) which means father of a multitude. He was born in Ur of the Chaldees, located in the Tigris Euphrates valley. From Ur, Abram and his family moved to Haran, there, at the age of 75, he received his calling from God:
God told Abram to leave his home and to travel to a land that God would show him (Gen 12:1-3). Abram obeyed God and travelled to Canaan, which we now call Israel, with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot. They settled in the Negeb, southern Israel, before famine drove them to Egypt. The story of Abram’s stay in Egypt gives a fascinating insight into his personality. (Gen 12:10-20)
The following bullet points are some of the key events in his life and for those of you who don’t want to read the whole story you might fine these shorter readings useful.
- The birth of his son Ishmael by his wife’s servant Hagar, through whom the Arab nations of today count their ancestry to him. (Gen 16:1-16)
- The covenant of circumcision when he was 99, God’s changing of his name to Abraham. (Gen 17:1-8)
- God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-22).
- Abraham’s plea for clemency (Gen 18:23-33).
- The destruction the cities (Gen 18:27-29).
- The birth of Isaac, through whom the Jews of today count their ancestry to Abraham. (Gen 21:3)
- The testing of Abraham when he was told to sacrifice his son. (Gen 22:1-18)
- Sarah’s death (Gen 23:1-2)
- After Sarah’s death Abraham married again, to Keturah by whom he had six more sons, we also know that he had other sons by his concubines (Gen 25:5-6)
Some questions that we might want to use as a starter to our discussion:
- Having read the story how different is the Abraham you now know with the one you thought you knew?
- At the beginning of the story (Gen 12:1-3) God makes Abram a promise to protect him and make him prosperous. Abram shows his faith by blindly following God as he is led into the wilderness. Yet in verses 10-20, when Abram and Sarai enter Egypt, Abram seems to have lost confidence in God. How can we explain Abram’s behaviour in Egypt? What does it say about how we should treat the women in our lives?
- The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is well known and God punishes them for their depravity and sinfulness. Abraham pleads for the people and God agrees to spare the city if just 10 good men can be found. Gen 18:16-23 is fascinating first because of Abraham’s pity and secondly because of the robust debate he has with God. So two questions
- Do we have a merciful attitude to people whose lifestyle we disapprove of?
- How robust are our conversations, prayers, with God?