Before you dismiss this as an attack on the Abrahamic faiths or a conspiracy theory, hear me out.
Yes, he is the father of faith. He’s the one that most Biblical characters referred to when quoting whose God’s people were: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Israel. He’s the one who was instructed to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, who was born to him and his wife after close to a century of childlessness, and almost did it too. He’s the one God initiated the covenant of circumcision with, a practice that is still very much alive today.
Impressive CV, right?
Well. let’s turn back the clock to just before his name change. Now my story begins…
Abram had been called by God to leave his family home and travel to Canaan, the land God promised to his descendants. He arrived safe and sound, and even built an altar to the Lord.
Unfortunately, famine struck while he resided there, prompting him and his family to flee to Egypt. His wife Sarai was very beautiful. (A Jewish legend says when Abram went into Egypt, he tried to hide her in a casket. When Egyptian customs officials asked what he had in the casket, he said, “barley.” “No,” they said, “it contains wheat.” “Very well,” answered Abram. “I’ll pay the custom on wheat.” Then the officers said it contained pepper. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on pepper. Then the officers said it contained gold. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on gold. Then the officers said it contained precious stones. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on precious stones. By this time, the officers insisted on opening the casket. When they did, all of Egypt shined with the beauty of Sarai. These same legends say that in comparison to Sarai, all other women looked like monkeys. She was even more beautiful than Eve.)
He anticipated that she would be taken by Pharaoh due to her beauty, and feared he would be killed. Therefore, he instructed her to say she was his sister, a half-truth (or half-lie), as she was his half-sister. As he expected, on their arrival, she was taken to Pharaoh’s house. Abram was treated well for her sake, rewarded with livestock and servants. Seemed like his plan worked…. or so he thought.
God afflicted Pharaoh and his court with great plagues. Pharaoh wasn’t the dullest knife in the drawer, and quickly put two and two together. He summoned Abram and asked him why he lied. Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.
These were the humble beginnings of one the greatest men that ever lived. He later trusted God enough to almost sacrifice his only son. Through God’s grace and transformative power, Abram grew from a liar to the father of faith.
Faith is not a mushroom that grows overnight in damp soil; it is an oak tree that grows for a thousand years under the blast of the wind and rain. (Barnhouse)