The Apostle Paul considers Abraham as the father of the faith, for he was the first to believe in God. “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of the faith that are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations shall be blessed in you.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer” (Gal. 3: 6-9).
Let us analyze what was Abraham’s faith, and in what did he believe.
1. Jehovah told Abram to leave his land and the house of his fathers, to go to another land. He promised to make Abram a great nation and to bless him (Gen. 12:1-3). After this promise, having there been a great famine in Canaan, Abram was forced to go down to Egypt. As Sarai was beautiful, Abram feared to be killed, and said to Sarai, “Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you”. In fact, the Egyptians praised Sarai’s beauty before Pharaoh, and he took her as one of his concubines, that is, as his lover. If Abraham had believed in Jehovah, he would not have given his wife into prostitution, for Sarai lived with Pharaoh time enough in that it was possible for Abram to become a billionaire, enjoying the favors of Pharaoh because of Sarai (Gen. 12:10-16). The truth is that Abram did not believe, and was smart enough to protect his own life, sacrificing his wife’s life.
2. Jehovah promised the land of Canaan to Abram as an eternal heritage. “…for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever” (Gen. 13:15). In order for Abram to believe, Jehovah made a covenant with him with sacrifices of animal, in the midst of a great darkness and a fiery furnace, sealing the promise with this pact (Gen, 15:7-21). One more time Jehovah presents himself to Abram saying: “I am God Almighty”. “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. AND I WILL GIVE TO YOU AND TO YOUR DESCENDANTS AFTER YOU THE LAND OF YOUR SOJOURNINGS, ALL THE LAND OF CANAAN, FOR AN EVERLASTING POSSESSION” (Gen. 17:7-8). The book of Hebrew makes an astonishing revelation: “By faith he (Abraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow-heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). Abram would hear one thing, and believe in another, which Jehovah had not promised? Abraham despised the promise made by Jehovah, for faith in another one, which Jesus had promised (John 8:56). The great truth is that Abraham did not believe nor accepted the promise that Jehovah made to him.
3. Jehovah had promised many times that Abram would have numerous descendants, but Sarai was barren. Time was going by with not a sign of the birth of the promised son. Abram began to complain to Jehovah about this heir that was late in coming. Jehovah, then, solemnly affirmed that he would give the awaited child; and he added: “Now look towards the heavens, and count the star, if you are able to count them … so shall your descendants be” (Gen. 15:5-6). The text ends by saying that Abram believed in Jehovah, but soon in the following chapter, we read: “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Now behold, Jehovah has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai … and he went in to Hagar, and she conceived” Gen. 16: 1-2,4).
4. If Abram and Sarai had believed in the promise that Jehovah had made, in chapter 15, they would have waited. Sarai, by offering Hagar to Abram reveals her lack of faith in Jehovah, and Abram, by accepting Hagar as his concubine, also had not believed in the promise. If Abram had believed, he would have waited for Sarai to conceive. The proof of Abram’s unbelief is in Gen. 17:15-18), when Jehovah states that is going to conceive and Abram hid his face to cover a laugh of unbelief, saying to God in his heart: “Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!” Sarai also laughed the laugh of incredulity, in Gen. 18:9-14. The truth is that neither Sarah nor Abraham believed in the promise of Jehovah, even though he had believed back in Gen. 15:5-6 (He believed because he had the plan about Hagar).
5. Jehovah had promised a numerous offspring to Abram, as the stars in the heaven. This son who had been promised took twenty-five years to come. When this child was a teenager, Jehovah tested Abraham asking him for his son who had been promised to him, in sacrifice. Abraham, unhesitant, obeyed, but on the instant he raised his knife to slay Isaac; Jehovah cried out from heaven saying: “Abraham, do not do this; now I know that you fear me.” From Isaac’s birth until Sarah’s death, 37 years had passed, and she had not given birth to any more children (Gen. 17:17-21; 23:1-2). Sara died when she was 127 years old; therefore she had been barren for 37 years after the begot Isaac. As Jehovah had asked for the sacrifice of Isaac once, Abraham feared that this could happen again, so, after Sarah’s death, he married again in order to guarantee an offspring. (Gen. 25:1-5). This shows Abraham’s unbelief once again, for if he believed that Isaac would not die, he would have never married again.
The truth is that Abraham never believed in Jehovah. How can Paul have called him the father of faith?(Gal. 3:6-9) Abraham has to have believed in something, for him to be the father of faith; but it could not have been in Jehovah and his promises. What has Abraham believed? Jesus said: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Jesus preached the Gospel to Abraham and made him promises, not temporal and of this earth, but eternal and from heaven. The offspring promised by Jesus is not physical, but spiritual. “That is, it is not the children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (Rom. 9:8). Jehovah never promised a spiritual offspring. The true believers are not born of the flesh, as Jehovah had promised to Abraham, but they are born of the Spirit (John 1:12-13).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira