Why is Abraham Called the "Father of the Faithful"?

The meaning of the phrase "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (James 2:23).

Traditionally, we call Abraham the father of all faithful, thereby not only citing him as an example of faith, but also seeing in Abraham's person a peculiar model of the Christian faith. It is especially noteworthy that the righteous man of the Old Testament is given as an example of faith, even to the Christians of the New Testament time. What was so important about Abraham's faith?

When we declare our faith, we usually say that we believe in God. That is, we have confidence in his existence, in his work of salvation, in his provision for us. The Scripture says something different about Abraham's faith: "Abraham believed God". At first glance, there does not seem to be much difference, if not much difference. But it is only at first glance.

We first read about Abraham in Genesis 11, where he is mentioned in the genealogy of Shem. But already chapter 12 begins with God's call to Abraham: "Go from your land, from your kindred, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). If it seems to some that this call is an ordinary one among the many calls of God to His chosen ones found in many sacred books, I hasten to object: this is far from being the case.

The approximate time of Abraham's life is the nineteenth century B.C., a time when people lived in a deeply tribal consciousness. It is clear that a harsh life is easier to live together, and as harsh as life in the Middle East at that time, even more so: an arid climate, lack of water, the need to work long and hard. In addition, there were clashes, conflicts and wars between tribes and cities, robbers, who plundered wherever they could get something to eat... And so Abraham, a rich cattleman, head of a family clan belonging to the Aramean tribe, was told by God to leave his tribe and go with his family, relatives and slaves through Syria to the land of Canaan. That is, taking into account all the above realities, to go to the category of wandering families, which in large numbers wandered through the territory of the Middle East, cattle breeding, hiring for work or the army, and even robbery. But it is one thing to have a small family, relatively prepared for the hardships of nomadic life, and quite another to have more than three hundred people who had lived a sedentary life until then.

Of course, one cannot say that Abraham had no experience of a nomadic life: we know from the Scriptures that his father Terah brought his numerous family to Harran from Ur of the Chaldees. But a single journey, however long, is not a wandering life. Besides, we do not know what losses such an insecure initiative might have cost Terah. In any case, in encouraging Abraham to undertake a difficult and dangerous journey, in forcing him to separate from the tribe, thereby placing himself in a much more vulnerable position than before, God calls him to self-sacrifice on the one hand, and complete trust in Himself on the other.

And Abraham believed. Not just "believed in God", like the vast majority of us, but "believed God". He relied on Him completely, trusted Him without the slightest doubt. Just as a baby believes and trusts his father without the slightest doubt, who, when playing with him, tosses him up and catches him completely relaxed, happy and laughing. And after all, babies are known to be especially shy. And even such trifling things as the noise of water in the bathroom drain, a barking dog in the yard or just a sudden movement of an adult, can easily not only scare him seriously, but also become a very traumatic experience. And here the child is tossed to a height many times greater than his or her own height. They throw him up abruptly and sometimes unexpectedly. And there is no fear, no fright, no tension. The child knows that his father is sure to catch him by the toss, and in the end, what could have been frightening makes him burst out laughing. God called Abraham into the unknown, and Abraham was not afraid of it, believing that God would abide with him.

Abraham set out on his journey without hesitation, fearing neither robbers, nor disease, nor downfall of cattle, nor wild beasts. He set out without a moment's doubt on God's promise to bring forth a great nation from him, an old man of seventy-five, the husband of barren Sarah. And it was this childlike, immediate faith, not so much "believing in God" as "believing God", who, as we well know both from the Scriptures and from life, is faithful to every word and promise He makes Abraham righteous and makes him "the friend of God".

The fruits of Abraham's faith are well known to us. He reached the land of Canaan safely, suffered no harm from robbers, nor from disease, nor from predators, nor did he suffer any loss in fending off Lot from the Sumero-Elamic army. The Lord appeared to him repeatedly and fulfilled every one of His promises exactly. To us he became a model of faith. Guileless and sincere, firm and steadfast. The faith that transforms and saves. A truly Christian faith, even though Abraham lived a little less than two thousand years before Christ's birth.


Source: pravlife.org (Russian)

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