Abraham began life as Abram, one of three sons of Terah
Abram’s brother Haran had a son named Lot, the nephew of Abram. Abram was 20 generations and 2000 years removed from Adam (Luke 3:34-38) (see p. 80 in Ideolatry). During this time, the condition of mankind had greatly deteriorated from the intimacy that Adam initially enjoyed with God. Terah and his family had nearly erased the awareness of God, their creator, and had adopted the traditions of the pagan worshippers of idols and other gods (Joshua 24:2). They were worshippers of the moon-god, Sin, among others.
The Midrash, a Jewish text used as a companion to interpret the Bible, also known as the Bereshith or Genesis Rabba, provides an interesting narrative of Abram. It details how he resisted the folly of idols that both his father, Terah and Nimrod, a mighty and powerful ruler, engaged in.
According to the Midrash, Terah was a maker of idols. Both Nimrod and Terah encountered the wisdom of God through Abram in their exchange with him as revealed in the following passage from the Midrash.
“Terah, the father of Abraham and Haran, was a dealer in images as well as a worshiper of them. Once when he was away he gave Abraham his stock of graven images to sell in his absence. In the course of the day an elderly man came to make a purchase. Abraham asked him his age, and the man gave it as between fifty and sixty years. Abraham taunted him with want of sound sense in calling the work of another man’s hand, produced perhaps in a few hours, his god; the man laid the words of Abraham to heart and gave up idol-worship. Again, a woman came with a handful of fine flour to offer to Terah’s idols, which were now in charge of Abraham. He took a stick and broke all the images except the largest one, in the hand of which he placed the stick which had worked this wholesale destruction.
When his father returned and saw the havoc committed on his “gods” and property he demanded an explanation from his son whom he had left in charge. Abraham mockingly explained that when an offering of fine flour was brought to these divinities they quarreled with one another as to who should be the recipient, when at last the biggest of them, being angry at the altercation, took up a stick to chastise the offenders, and in so doing broke them all up. Terah, so far from being satisfied with this explanation, understood it as a piece of mockery, and when he learned also of the customers whom Abraham had lost him during his management he became very incensed, and drove Abraham out of his house and handed him over to Nimrod.
Nimrod suggested to Abraham that, since he had refused to worship his father’s idols because of their want of power, he should worship fire, which is very powerful. Abraham pointed out that water has power over fire. “Well,” said Nimrod, “let us declare water god.” “But,” replied Abraham, “the clouds absorb the water; and even they are dispersed by the wind.” “Then let us declare the wind our god.” “Bear in mind,” continued Abraham, “that man is stronger than wind, and can resist it and stand against it.” Nimrod, becoming weary of arguing with Abraham, decided to cast him before his god -fire- and challenged Abraham’s deliverance by the God of Abraham, but God saved him out of the fiery furnace.
Abram – 1 Idols – 0
Little is known from the Biblical record about Abram’s life between his birth and his departure from the city of Haran at age 75. It appears obvious that the Spirit of God did not consider this information crucial to our understanding of the narrative of Abram’s life. However, the passage from the Midrash does provide some interesting insight. Abram became who he was by the choices he made in conducting his life. As a young man he learned through the challenges he encountered in his father’s idol-making business and from his interaction with the culture of idol worship surrounding him.
Abram’s paradigms of life became quite different from those of his ancestors and contemporaries. His heart was somehow prepared to hear and be obedient to the one true God. God’s inspired words brought Abram to complete success over his challenges. As he continued with God, he overcame challenges, displayed faith and trusted in God. God rewarded him with a covenant or agreement and gave him a new prophetic name, Abraham, meaning the “father of many nations.” His success brought on harsh persecution, even by fire, but God was with him. God was at work shaping Abram’s life even before He established His covenant with him.
The influence of the idols in Abram’s life lost, and God won.
You can explore this concept in more detail in Chapter 13 “Abraham and the Covenant” in my book “Ideolatry – God Is Not Your Problem,” now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about this subject read,
Chapter 13, “Abraham and the Covenant"
In Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God, now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
Now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders
You can read about more subjects from Ideolatry below.