10. january 2018
ABRAHAM – The forefather in the faith
Russian icon from the 2nd half of the 19th century. Abraham is in the instant of movement. His feet on the ground, and at the same time as if they were hovering up above. He is ready to go where God calls him – to walk not only along the path of the world with his plans, but to go on the path with God and towards God. He is glancing from the earth, with the thumb of the left foot, towards the higher path where God reveals himself that He is "Elohim, God Almighty, Lord Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth" (Genesis 14:22; 17:1). This is also written in the inscription on the scroll that Abraham holds in his hand. His face reveals awe and joyful astonishment over this knowledge, for in his homeland he was surrounded by many pagan gods and dead idols. But this God has spoken to him, He is alive, He is the Person who calls his name, invites him into the dialogue "I and You" and into the Journey. The mantle of the green color is "broken" by the wind, a sign that Abraham is fascinated by God, who has begun a dialogue with him, and ready to be guided by God. The bottom tunic of the white color points to the spirituality of Abraham, the pure and sincere desire for a deep relationship with God, the desire to walk in faith with Him. The hair and chin symbolize the wisdom of the Patriarch. The hands symbolize the majesty of the father, which is expressed by the meaning of his original name, Abram, "the father is noble." The mission of the father is the noble task that God extended in the case of Abraham to be "the father of many nations." He is surrounded by the supernatural world, depicted in the golden color on the background of the icon. Although the Bible speaks of the advanced age of Abraham at the time of calling, Abraham is depicted in the icon as in a mature age, but not as a helpless old man. Rather he ressmbles a man in full power, in the dynamics of life that God creates with him.
Abraham lived around r. 1800 BC. He was originally named Abram, "the father is noble". Later God changed his name to Abraham, "the father of many nations." The forefather of the chosen nation has a privileged place in the history of salvation. His life is developing as a sign of the completely free initiative of God. God intervenes first. He chooses Abraham in the family that used to serve other gods (Joshua 34:2), he brings him out of the Oru and leads him to the unknown country, through the paths He choses. Abraham listens to God, leaves his homeland, his habits, comfort, everything he has been "engaged in." He went into the unknown, into darkness, but his light was the voice of the God he believed in.
From the beginning, God has manifested generosity toward Abraham. His promises show some beautiful future. He promises Abraham the land, blessing, fertility; he will endow him sovereignly.
However, all circumstances contradict this promise. Abraham is a nomad, he does not have his own land, Sarah is no longer in the age that would allow to give him offspring. His future depends entirely on God's power and God's goodness. God's promise begins to be fulfilled, Sarah gives birth to Isaac. But his faith is to be cleansed and strengthened in the test. Abraham is to sacrifice Isaac, even though he is the promise (Genesis 22:1). Abraham does not deny his son, his only one, and in deep awe and confidence to God, he walks with Isaac on the mountain to the sacrificial altar. But God will save Isaac and He himself will take care of a burnt offering.
In Canaan area, it was common to sacrifice children. Through the fact that God kept Isaac and himself took care of the sacrifice providing a lamb, he showed that his intention was not focused on death, but on life. "He does not rejoice in the destruction of the living" (Exodus 1:13), and the blood of the slain man, especially the blood of the innocent, "cries to him from the earth" (Genesis 4:10). "The seven-fold revenge draws upon himself that who kills Cain" (Genesis 4:15). Even the sacrifices of the animals do not please the God: " Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (Hebrews 10:8).
The day will come when death is defeated; "The sacrifice of Isaac" will then appear as a certain prophetic scene, when God himself has not saved His Only Son, who died and overthrew death with his redemptive death on the cross and resurrection. "I do not want the sinful man to die but to repent and live." Only the Son of God, he alone can die and pour blood to pay ransom for us. "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and capes to remove sins" (Hebrews 10:4).
"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Galatians 3:6). Therefore, faith is the foundation of salvation, but John the Baptist strongly emphasizes that it is not enough to only claim Abraham's inheritance, if our life is far from God's will, for "out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. " (Matthew 3:9). St James writes, " Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. "(James 2:21-22). Abraham's greatness lies in his strong faith and his glory in his paternity. He was a full-time father.