Father Abraham: Galatians 3:6-18

[Author’s note: This devotional is basically an email I sent to my aunt. The story behind this is in this post. As such, it’s somewhat lighter on scholarship and more informal than my normal entries.]

Abraham is an amazingly important figure in the Old Testament for all kinds of reasons. Even though several important things happen before him, Abraham is the start of the story that most of the Bible is concerned about.

For Paul, trying to bring these believing Jews and Gentiles together under faith in Jesus, Abraham is is very important for three reasons:

1. Abraham was not a Jew when he was called by God. He was a pagan wandering around Mesopotamia. Although he became the father of all Jews, God made a covenant with him while he was what the Galatians would normally consider a Gentile.

2. Abraham did not have the Law when he was called by God. He was not circumcised. He did not keep dietary laws. The only thing going for him is that he believed God when God made promises to him and made a covenant with him.

3. Abraham’s promises were intended to bless the Gentiles as well. Even though God entered into a special agreement with him and his descendants, the entire world was meant to be blessed through their faithfulness.

Because of these things, Abraham may be the father of the Israel by ancestry, but he is the spiritual father of both Jews and Gentiles who would have faith in God like his. Abraham, too, was once a Gentile apart from the Law, but he believed and trusted God, and God counted this as faithfulness.

And now, Jesus has brought the promises that were given to Abraham to both Jew and Gentile, making them both heirs. Because of Jesus, the promises that everyone thought were lost because of sin are now reclaimed and made available to all. The only thing that brings you into this people is to believe and trust in God who has revealed Himself in Jesus. If we have Abraham’s faith, God counts it as faithfulness apart from the Law.

Think about that the next time your Gentile kids (or you) sing the song “Father Abraham”:

Father Abraham had many sons.
Many sons had father Abraham.
I am one of them, and so are you.
So let’s just praise the Lord!