The account of the promise of God to Abraham is an extremely important part of the Pentateuch. It is this promise that sees a nation come from him. Abraham, formerly Abram, was told to move from his home and he obeyed without question. It is this faith that causes God to show favor on Abraham. God tells him to look at the stars and his descendants will outnumber them. It is here we find Abraham questioning because his wife, Sarah, is barren.
Sarah hands over her servant, Hagar, and Abraham has a son with her. Sarah becomes Jealous and Hagar and Ishmael leave. A bereaved Abraham is comforted by God who tells Abraham that they will be taken care of. Ishmael will then “become the ancestor of a desert tribe (Collins, page 94).” Thus one part of the promise is now complete. God then works a miracle and tells Abraham that Sarah will bear a son. Isaac is born and Abraham loved him dearly.
God then tested Abraham and told him to sacrifice Isaac. Collins states “To appreciate the force of the story, the awfulness of the command must be taken fully seriously (Collins, page 95). Isaac is spared and God’s providence is manifested. Abraham would name the place where Isaac was supposed to be sacrificed “the Lord will provide.” Abraham passed the test that God laid before him, and God told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand in the sea. This would be manifested in Isaac whose son was Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons whose families would become the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob himself would be renamed Israel.
The promise of God to Abraham results as a reward of faith and trust. The things that Abraham went through were not easy, but through it all he knew that God would provide for him and lead the way. As a result he was blessed with many descendants and many nations came from him. Abraham’s story of faith and trust is also a model for us today.
Brown, Raymond E., Fitzmyer, Joseph A., and Murphy, Roland E. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.
Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.