As promised in my previous post, I wanted to share a little enjoyment from the recent Winter Training on the Crystallization-study of Genesis, a week long Bible conference I attended in December. The training covered Genesis chapters 12-24, focusing mostly on the life of Abraham and Isaac. There were so many points that impressed me and I definitely need to spend more time to study to really get into them all, but one thing that I came away with was the appreciation for the simple title, “the God of Abraham.” Many times in the Bible, God is referred to simply as the God of Abraham. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Abraham wasn’t a particularly significant figure in world history; he wasn’t a king, had no cities named after him, you can’t find a single edifice or statue of him anywhere. Why would the God of the universe choose to define and call Himself the God of this one man? Surely the almighty God is the God of everyone and of everything; so why would God Himself tell succeeding generations that He is simply “the God of Abraham”?
There is so much to unpacking this title – it reveals to us that God is a God that is closely related to humanity, even to individual persons. It also reveals that He is a God of history; He reveals Himself and speaks through man’s experiences and dealings with Him. The Old Testament is filled not so much with the direct speakings of God but with stories of people’s experiences. God’s history is not written in fables and myths, but in human experiences. And that is exactly what made Abraham so special – his life was one filled with experiences of God’s speaking, God’s calling, and God’s appearing. He started off, like we all do, in a land of darkness and idolatry, but the God of glory appeared to him. And like most of us, he was not a giant of faith, but dragged his feet in following the Lord and needed God’s repeated appearing. His life of sojourning was a life of getting to know the God who called him. In all his experiences, he realized that God can provide for all his needs, that He’s a God who can fight for him, that He’s a God that can call things not being as being by giving him a son at the age of 100, that He’s the God of resurrection in raising that same son from the dead. In the life of Abraham we can see who God is – He’s the faithful One, the all-sufficient One, the eternal One, the One who can call someone out of Chaldea and bring him all the way to Mt. Moriah. Abraham’s history became God’s history.
So what about us? How much of our history can be considered God’s history? One thing that encouraged me was that Isaac and Jacob were people that started off knowing God only as the God of Abraham, the God of their father and grandfather. But because they themselves also lived a life of having personal experiences with the Lord, their names also got included in the title. When Jehovah appeared to Moses, He said I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. The experiences of these three men give us a complete revelation of who our God is and the work He must do in all of us as believers. We may start off only knowing God as the God of our parents, but at some point in our life, He has to become “our God.” For our life to have any meaning, it has to be one in which God can write His own history. In contrast, Abraham’s nephew Lot, who had spent so much time with his uncle, never had any personal appearing from the Lord and so God remained the God of Abraham to him and never became his God. As a result, he drifted to Sodom and his story in the divine record ends after his pitiful escape from God’s judgment on that city.
May we all aspire to have more history with God. Our Christian life might be filled with failures, but as long as we have God’s repeated appearing, calling and speaking, at the end of our life we can look back upon all our experiences and be confident that we know God and we know His ways. Then He will not be ashamed to be called our God.