Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Commemoration of Abraham

Wednesday after Pentecost 19
October 10, 2012

The Lord be with you

Yesterday was the Commemoration of Abraham in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. I was away from the internet, so I couldn’t post anything about it. I am, therefore, posting something today.

Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at age 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs – and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12).

In Genesis 15:6 we are told that Abraham believed the promise God made to him, and that the Lord counted it to Abraham as righteousness. This is the first explicit reference to anyone in the Bible as having faith. Therefore Abraham is often referred to as the “father of all who believe.” Of course, he was not the first person to believe in God and God’s promises, just the first to whom the Bible explicitly points. As this faith granted to Abraham righteousness, he, like all believers, was justified by grace through faith. Of this saving faith, Luther wrote:

All Holy Scripture is in agreement with this true service of God, which is indeed grounded in Holy Scripture. Therefore if you want to serve God, bear in mind that you must believe in Him whom the Father sent. If you want to know how to obtain God’s grace and how to approach God, how to render satisfaction for your sin, and how to escape death, then this is truly God’s will and true service, that you believe in Christ. The text deals with the work that we are to perform, namely, to believe. Faith is a work that man must do, and yet it is also called the work of God; for this is the true existence, work, life, and merit with which God desires to be honored and served. If there is no faith, God accepts nothing as service rendered to Him. Here we have the answer to the question: What is the real service of God? It is the doctrine of faith in Christ. Later Christ tells us about the origin of faith—for no one possesses faith of himself—when He says (John 6:44): “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him.” And again (John 6:65): “No one can believe in Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” For faith is a divine work which God demands of us; but at the same time He Himself must implant it in us, for we cannot believe by ourselves.

Abraham’s story can be found in Genesis 11:27-25:11.

Prayer for the Commemoration of Abraham: Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your Holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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