Before Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, God called him from his home in Ur of the Chaldees, an area steeped in idolatry. Abram had no knowledge of the true God or His plans to choose a special people for Himself, nor did he know that the Savior of the world would be among his offspring. Genesis 12:1–2 says, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” In these verses, we see God’s reasons for choosing Abraham.
Why did God choose Abraham? To make him a blessing, first to the nation that would come from him—the Israelites—and ultimately to all the people of the earth. The same promise is reiterated in Genesis 22 when Abraham was ready to obey God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, his promised son. God stopped him from harming Isaac and told him that his offspring would be as numerous as “the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (verse 17). From Abraham came the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, in whom were entrusted “the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). The oracles included the law of God and the prophecies of the coming Messiah.
Why did God choose Abraham? To prepare the way for the Messiah. God promised that in Abraham’s offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:1–18). The reference to Abraham’s “offspring” in this passage is to Jesus Christ, through whom all the people of the world would be blessed with the opportunity for eternal life. Paul explained this to the Galatians: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16).
Why did God choose Abraham? To reveal his faith as an example for us. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). We are to follow Abraham’s pattern of faithful obedience when we are called to leave worldly pursuits and comforts. As heirs of Abraham’s faith, we can look to his example and go where God leads us, trusting God for the future. Like Abraham, we should be looking for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives. The result of Abraham’s faith was that he simply and fully obeyed the call of God.
Jesus said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). The kind of faith that God blesses is Abraham’s kind of faith, one willing to leave everything behind for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we do not resolve to forsake all things, to endure whatever hardships that may be ahead of us, and to persevere to the end of our days in the service of Jesus, we cannot be His disciples. We must be willing to give up everything, as Abraham did, and live by faith.