As a dad, my primary responsibility and calling is to care for and guide my children and my wife. I am their pastor first, before my time, attention, focus, energy or creativity is spent on my church, my ministry, my job, or my hobbies. And as their pastor, it is my duty and joy to make sure that my kids are familiar with the Bible, it’s stories, what it teaches, and what it means for them.
When it comes to the Heroes of the Bible, it is important that these men and women are held up in the light that Scripture gives them, with all their courage, virtue, and heroism as well as their faults, shortcomings, and failings. Abraham particularly is shown to have had plenty of both virtue and vice, and as we look at this “Father of Faith” it’s important to show that he was a human, just like I am and just like my kids are.
That being said, Abraham’s story is extraordinary, and his calling is unique in all of history. By looking at what God planned through Abraham, my kids learn that their own relationship with God is part of a spiritual heritage that reaches deep into history and stretches around the world. Abraham was uniquely called to be the father of God’s chosen people, and he responded to this call with questions and even doubt, combined with great faith that God would do what seemed to be impossible.
Abraham’s belief in God prompted action. In the recent miniseries “The Bible”, Abraham is shown almost on the verge of lunacy. On the screen, his wife Sarai worries that he’s absolutely lost his mind. The Bible doesn’t record that anybody thought that Abraham was nuts, but he likely appeared to be crazy to his family, friends and everybody around. He insisted that he heard God speak directly to him, giving him directions and making him promises. Even though he didn’t immediately see the fulfillment of those promises he still responded to the direction, and his belief was “credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). As I teach my kids Abraham’s example, I show them that faith in Jesus means more than saying words in a Sunday school class. Faith means putting those words into action in the decisions that they make in every day life, even if that makes them stand out and appear unusual. Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15) and Abraham provides the example of what it means to show that we love God by obeying Him.
But stories from the Bible are for more than just inspiration or even instruction. The accounts that the Holy Spirit inspired men to record in Scripture are about the Greater Story of the Gospel of Jesus. The pinnacle of Abraham’s life was the willing sacrifice of his only son, the son of promise, in obedience to God’s command. And this story shows the Gospel of Jesus in vivid colour.
In this account, Abraham’s obedience demands everything that he’s ever hoped for. It doesn’t come easy. As God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, you can imagine that Abraham tells God, “I wish that you would ask me to do something else – anything else. But not my will. Yours be done.” In the same way, Jesus before His sacrifice pleaded with the Father for another way; “let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but Yours be done”(Matthew 26:39). Like Abraham, Jesus was willing to make an even greater sacrifice.
Abraham’s faith in the goodness and salvation of God is revealed in his response to his boy. When Isaac asked, “where is the sacrifice?” Abraham told him that The Lord will provide. This is a lesson that Isaac would not forget, and one my children should also pay attention to. God is “our provider” – he is the giver of all good things, and He has provided our salvation in a different way than how we would ever expect.
Knowing that God would provide a substitute, Abraham went all the way in obedience to Him. Through his obedience, God provides us a snapshot of the Gospel – that when my children are helpless to save themselves, Jesus has become the substitute for them. Isaac was helpless to get off the altar, but at the last moment, Abraham saw the ram God provided caught in a bush. I show my kids that Jesus is the same as that ram that died in the place of Isaac, and that because Jesus paid the punishment for our sins, we can live forever with Him.
This story tells my children about God’s character. Did God really demand a child sacrifice, as the gods of the other nations did? Though blood was required to pay for sins, God Himself would provide the sacrifice that His people, Abraham’s descendants, would need to make. God would not demand the blood of children to pay for their fathers’ sins, but the precious blood of His own Son Jesus would pay for the sins of the world. Abrahams’s story teaches that God is holy and just, and demands that our wrongdoings are accounted for. But also that He is loving, and pays the price for our wrongdoings Himself.
Abraham is a hero of the Bible that gives my kids far more than a simple story to inspire and instruct them. It shows them the Gospel, and the loving, giving, and forgiving nature of God. It is my responsibility to teach and impart these truths to my kids, and I pray that the lessons would transform my heart and mind as I present it to my kids over and over again for the rest of my life.
Learn more about Abraham and 24 other heroes of the Old Testament in a brand new devotional and activity download pack – Old Testament Heroes!
Chad Eddy is a husband, father, podcaster, blogger, and letter carrier in Canada. His passions are communicating the Gospel, and hanging out with his wife and kids! You can find out more about Chad by visiting chadeddy.com.