Father Abraham. I remember a children’s tune called just that; “Father Abraham.” Certainly in the Jewish mind this man is supremely important. Even though the Jewish people were called Israelites in ancient times, they still thought of themselves in terms of their origin in the seed of Abraham.
But who was this man? That is a central question in the new book, “Birth of The Holy Nation” coming out in early 2015. Of course, we cannot know everything about Abraham, separated as we are from him by thousands of years of history. But we can know a lot about him by a careful examination of his life and legacy in scripture. Usually our discussions of Abraham and his life are fairly superficial. In “Birth of The Holy Nation” we will take a much more careful look. In particular we will examine his life as a son of God as the starting point to his life as the father of the nation of God’s own choosing.
But, he was a bloody man. The shedding of blood marked his life. Not only did it mark his life, it was a prominent feature of his relationship with God – even to the point that shedding his own blood by circumcision was a major hallmark of that life-determining relationship. Abraham did not shrink back from the shedding of blood. It followed him everywhere. Let’s examine that a bit.
Soon after Abram (later known as Abraham) arrived in the land God had sent him too, he settled near a place called Shechem. The memorial aspect of his settlement at Shechem was the building of an altar. It was an altar for animal sacrifices. The practice was to bring an animal to the altar for the sacrifice. The animal was typically a sheep or goat. The sacrifice started with binding the animal, and then, as humanely as possible cutting its throat. The animal would bleed to death and some portions would be burned on the altar.
When, for whatever reason, Abram left Shechem and moved south, he settled again in the area of Bethel. The altar and the sacrifice were repeated there. When Abram returned to the land from Egypt, he went back to Bethel. You can bet another animal was sacrificed. It is probably true that these altars were often used, not just on the occasions mentioned in the bible.
And consider the night that Abram stayed up to protect a whole group of bloodily sacrificed animals. That was an awesome encounter between him and the Lord. This shedding of blood opened the way for the first use of “covenant” language. You know – the firepot and the torch appearing the night (Gen. 15).
Then there was the “name changing” some years later. That night Abraham was instructed to mark the covenant in his own flesh by cutting away his own foreskin. Then every male in the camp was required to undergo the same procedure. That was a bloody time for sure.
Other altars. Other visits from God. Other instances of offering up sacrificed animals in the context of the relationship between God and himself.
Then Isaac. Isaac was circumcised when he was a few days old. But about the time he became a grown man, he was to be sacrificed the same way an animal would have been. He was even bound on the new altar at Mt. Moriah atop the wood for the burning.
Father Abraham was a bloody man. By the way, so is God. In essence Jesus bled to death on the cross!
Leave A Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.