When I began my attempt at reading the Bible in 90 days, I managed to stay on schedule for the first six or seven weeks. So it was only a matter of a few days getting from the beginning to the story of Abraham. For me, the story of Abraham marks the real beginning of the narrative of God’s work on Earth. That sounds a bit sacrilegious, and I certainly do not mean to dismiss what has preceded. Nevertheless, it is like with any book, you reach a point where you feel like you have really begun. You’re all in, you get what’s going on, and you’re ready to enjoy the experience.
I also relate to the story of Abraham because I remember the first time that I really began to question my faith. It was in high school, and not in science, but in history. We learned about early humans and pre-history. It all contradicted what I had been taught as a child, and even worse, it all made sense. I consider this a milestone in my faith, as we learned stories of creation myths and legends from other traditions, the teacher responded to a laughing student—“as crazy as this sounds, is it any more unbelievable than saying one man built a huge boat to escape a flood that covered the entire earth, and along the way managed to house every species of animal on this boat for the duration?”
That statement hit me like a brick. But later in the semester, the section heading in the chapter was “A Wandering Aramean…” Among the stories of river valley civilizations and empires, I found the story of the Hebrews and their monotheistic religion traced back to Abraham. I began to learn from that experience that to be open-minded toward other beliefs and skeptical of one’s own does not have to delegitimize or minimize our faith. I learned that somehow I have to figure out how to live in this world and not against it, at least not in the traditional, antagonistic sense. I felt like through this experience I moved from know about God to getting to know God.
I think this is part of the struggle that the story from Abraham to Moses speaks of. God calls Abraham out of his comfort to experience something new. By joining in God’s covenant, Abraham is called to be different. He is not called home to God and taken out of this world, he is asked to live a different life within this world so that through him he can be a blessing. He is not called to conquer, persuade, or rule, he is simply called to receive God’s blessing so that through him the world might be so blessed. And we learn about the growth of his nation through the blessing of God, and watch God’s people struggle to understand what it means to be chosen, and why they are it.