Abraham’s Family History
In this article, we are going to find out about Abraham’s family history and its secret meaning through the prophecies of the bible. The bible is a book concerned about the salvation God has planned the since the creation of the world. Therefore, the bible contains secrets and knowledge about the redemption work of God. It seems, however, certain parts in the bible do not seem to have any direct relationship with that purpose. One of the parts can be found in Genesis.
The Book of Genesis begins with the creation of the world. And then it tells about the genealogy of man descending from Adam. Even though it tells the genealogy of Adam’s line chronologically, it varies in the emphasis it gives to each character in the history. Some are more highlighted than others. For example, in 2000 years’ history from Adam to Abraham, only Adam and Noah are given enough space for us to figure out some information about them. Contrarily, the others are not much illustrated except for the names and cursory remarks about this and that.
Abraham in Genesis
With the beginning of Abraham’s family from Chapter 11, however, the pace suddenly slows down as if the mountain torrent has met a wide flat land. The story of Abraham’s family goes on meandering along with the journey of Abraham and his descendants until the time of the death of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. The span of time from the birth of Abraham to the death of Jacob is about 300 years. And the 300 years take up about the last 40 chapters of the Book of Genesis. Given that the time span of the Old Testament expands about 4000 years, it is unusual that only the span of 300 years is delineated in that much detailed way.
The Secret Meanings in the History of Abraham’s Family
Then why did God emphasize the family history of Abraham so much in detail? What kind of messages are hidden in the family history? If it is not important for our salvation, it would not have been elucidated like that in the bible. Therefore, one thing is certain that it contains some crucial information concerning the salvation work of God. Then what is the message hidden in the family history?
The answers for these questions can be found in the teachings of Jesus Christ. The bible says that he came to teach “the things hidden since the creation of the world”. (Matthew 13:34) This means that the history of Abraham’s family itself can be read as “parable” that contains the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 13:10) Now let us find out the meanings of the parable one by one through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Who does Abraham Represent?
As we can see many places in the bible, the figures of the Old Testament are used as types or patterns to teach us the fulfillment in the New Testament. For example, Adam in the Old Testament was working as pattern for the Christ who is coming as Adam spiritually.
Romans 5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
Adam in the Old Testament was given to teach us about the Christ. Likewise, Abraham was also given as type to represent someone else spiritually. Then who is Abraham the type for? The answer can be found in one parable of Jesus. Through the parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus”, Jesus let us know about the secrets hidden in Abraham’s story.
Abraham the Type for God
Luke 16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
In this parable the spirit of Lazarus was taken to Abraham after his death. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, however, the bible teaches the spirit of man is led to God after the death of body.
Our Souls Return to God
Ecclesiastes 12:7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Through this we can understand that Abraham actually stands for God in the bible. We can confirm this through the way he is addressed to by the rich man. The rich man in hell calls Abraham “Father”. The only one who can be called Father in the spiritual world is God himself. Therefore, we can conclude that Abraham is a parabolic figure given to represent God the Father.
Jesus, Isaac the Son of Abraham
We can understand this through Jesus, who was also called the Son of God. Since God is represented as Abraham, the Son of God can be actually understood as the Son of Abraham. For this reason, Jesus, who was the Son of God, refers himself as Isaac the son of Abraham.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Here Jesus was speaking of the birth of Isaac. When Abraham was 99 years old, God appeared to him and gave him a promise that He would come back again to him one year later.
Genesis 18:10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Isaac the Type for Jesus
This was fulfilled by the birth of Isaac one year after the visit of God to Abraham. (Genesis 21:1) The birth of the son of Abraham through Sarah brought so much joy and happiness to the family that they named the boy Isaac or “laughter”.
However, there is something unusual in the words of Jesus above. Jesus speaks of the birth of Isaac as his being born as son of Abraham. In other words, he is depicting himself Isaac by saying, Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day“. Through this we can conclude that Jesus the Son of God is parabolically Isaac the son of Abraham. Therefore, in this teaching of Jesus, we can know that Abraham actually represents God, and thus the son of Abraham (Isaac) the son of God (Jesus).
God’s Heirs Hidden in the Parable of Abraham’s Family
Up until now, we have studied through the bible that actually Abraham figuratively stands for God in the bible. If then, who does the heir of Abraham stand for? Abraham’s heir stands for God’s heir who can inherits the kingdom of heaven.
Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Christ is the Son of God. But then why does the bible say as Abraham’s seed or son of those who belongs to Christ? Since they belong to Christ the Son of God, they should become the sons of God like Christ. However, the bible says of them as sons of Abraham. It is because Abraham represents God himself.
Therefore, the family history of Abraham is not simply a family history of Abraham as man, but it was given to teach us the children or heirs of God who would inherit the kingdom of heaven. That is why God was so much cautious about choosing the heir of Abraham and giving his promise to them.
Heavenly Children in the Family History of Abraham
God gave his promise or the covenant first to Isaac, and later to Jacob and his 12 sons. All these were working as prophecies for the children of God who would be saved in the last days. Therefore, by studying the family history of Abraham carefully, actually we can know who can be the children of God and receive the eternal inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.
In the next part of the history of Abraham’s family, I would like to follow the candidates of the heirs of Abraham to find out who became the heir and why. In this way, we can actually know how we can become the children of God to inherit the kingdom of heaven.