Abram – Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith


Prayer:  Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications.  In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You, for You will answer me.”  Amen (Psalm 86:6-7).

Main Scripture: Read Genesis 11:31-121 and Hebrews 1:8-10.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.  Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.  The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you (Genesis 11:31-12:1).

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents (Hebrews 1:8-10).

Associated Scriptures:

“Woe to me!” I (Isaiah) cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it, he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!  (Isaiah 6:5-8).

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.   Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:4-8).

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell to Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For him and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him (Luke 5:4-11).

Correlative Quotes:

Among all the acts of Abraham’s faith, nothing was more remarkable and noteworthy than the offering up of his son Isaac. Not only was it the most wonderful work of faith ever wrought, and therefore is the most illustrious of all examples for us to follow (the life and death of Christ alone excepted), but it also supplies the most blessed shadowing out of the love of God the Father in the gift of His dear Son. The resemblances pointed by the type are numerous and striking. Abraham offered up a son, his only begotten son.[1] – Arthur W. Pink

Abraham is of profound religious significance because he was the historic ancestor of the twelve tribes, the "seed of Abraham, " who regularly described their God as "the God of Abraham." By being children of divine promise (Genesis 12:2), the Israelites were living proof of God's existence and power in human society. This general promise was made specific employing a covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 15:8-18, 17:1-14), which provided the offspring of the patriarch with a large tract of territory. Abraham was to father many nations (Genesis 17:5), and the covenant that was to be established with him and his seed were to be perpetual.[2]

(Genesis 12:11-13:4): To begin with, Abraham moved from trusting to scheming. Abraham had no altar in Egypt, and you don't find him calling on the Lord for guidance and help. When I was ministering in Youth for Christ International, my friend, and fellow worker Pete Quist often reminded us, "Faith is living without scheming." When you stop trusting God's Word, you start leaning on man's wisdom; and this leads to trouble (Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20). Abraham and Sarah brought this "half-truth" with them from Ur (Genesis 20:13), used it in Egypt and Gerar (Genesis 20), and then their son Isaac adopted it (Genesis 26). When you find yourself scheming to escape problems with people, beware; worse trouble is coming![3] Warren W. Wiersbe

In reality, Abraham and Sarah were like most people. They had their doubts and sought ways to take things into their own hands. This second-guessing got them in trouble. More importantly, however, their story helps us see that even in our doubts, questions, and quarrels, God always keeps promises and God always loves us.[4]


God chooses to do His work on earth through people who are no different than you and me.  They are just ordinary people.  When we look at their lives, we see that they are not perfect.  They struggle with the concepts of right and wrong. 

God uses the stories of their lives to help us better understand Him and His plan for us.  By using these accounts of everyday people, He shows us that He can use anyone to do His work.  The one characteristic that does make these people different from the norm is their extraordinary faith.  Abram and Sarai (their birth names) are examples of this anomaly; ordinary people who have extraordinary faith.

Abram and Sarai had commonplace beginnings.  The Bible does not give us any more history about Abraham other than to say that he was born of Terah along with his brothers Nahor and Haran.  Their genealogical history is not critical to the story of faith that follows.

Even though it is not reported in the scriptures, we can surmise that Terah and his family, were members of a nomadic clan of people.  Grazing lands were scarce in the Middle East and changing weather conditions moved to new areas a way of life for this pastoral, micro-society.  Therefore, Abram was mobile (Genesis 12:5, 10), he and his family lived in tents (Genesis 12:8), and they owned livestock (Genesis 13:2-7).

Abram's property was in his flocks; his strength, in the devotedness of his family; his daily cares and habits were those of the pastoral class to which he belonged. His tribe, as it moved along the successive tracts of country that lay between Haran and Canaan, presented externally a spectacle with which people in the lands of the East have been always familiar-that of a nomadic horde migrating from one district to another.[5]

It does not seem unusual that as an ordinary person Abram when confronted with fear, would “stretch the truth” to save himself and his belongings.  We see in the account of Genesis 12:10-16, (NASB) that when they traveled to Egypt, Abram was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him and take his Sarah for the Pharaoh.  Therefore, Abram told Sarai to say that she was his sister and not his wife.” 

Genesis 12:10-13 says this, “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.  It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.’  ‘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.’"

It would appear from Genesis 20:12 (NASB) that Sarai was Abram’s step-sister since he says, “Besides, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.”  Since Sarai was his half-sister, Abram saved himself with a half-truth.

In Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Old Testament, he makes this comment concerning the process of adding a woman to the harem of the King. 

When a woman was brought into the seraglio or harem of the eastern princes, she underwent for a considerable time certain purifications before she was brought into the king's presence. It was in this interim that God plagued Pharaoh and his house with plagues so that Sarai was restored before she could have been taken to the bed of the Egyptian king. [6]

As a result of Abram’s indiscretion, God punished Pharaoh and all his household (Genesis 12:17-20).  Abram and Sarai were not perfect, but they were obedient to God’s command and direction so He sent Abram and his wife on their way with all that they had acquired.

God uses imperfect people, people, just like us.  As we look at this account of Abram and Sarai’s lives we see that they were following God’s plan as we all should.  God knows that we will fall into sin along the way, but as we repent, God will strive with us and support us.  Remember, Abram and Sarai were ordinary people of their time and reflective of all believers of all time; sinners saved by grace through faith alone.  God was in the process of teaching, honing Abram and Sarai into the servants that He wanted them to be.  He had great plans for their lives, but their path to obedience would not be an easy one; just as it is not easy for God to work with any of us.  However, God is longsuffering in our redemption not will that any of us should suffer the eternal pain and loneliness of Hell (2 Peter 3:9). 

In addition, once we have recognized Him as Lord and Savior, God works with us to provide for us as we develop into the servants He wants us to be.  Just as with Abram, we are a project that takes us many years to reach a level of spiritual maturity and faith.  We then reach a point in our spiritual growth where we will march willingly into the battle for Jesus.  The battle that He has chosen for us.

Abraham learned his lesson, repented, and "went up" out of Egypt (13:1). When you disobey the will of God, the only right thing to do is to go back to the place where you left Him and make a new beginning (1 John 1:9). No failure is permanent in "the school of faith." Abraham went back to his tent and altar and the life of a "pilgrim and stranger."

A casual observer of this episode might conclude, "What happened to Abraham wasn't all bad. Pharaoh gave Abraham a lot of wealth (Genesis 12:16; 13:2), and Sarah was given her maid, Hagar (16:1). God forgave Abraham's sin, and he started over again. So, what's the big problem?"

The "big problem" is that everything Abraham received in Egypt later caused trouble. Because of their great wealth, Abraham and Lot could not live together and had to separate (13:5-6). Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant, brought division and sorrow into the home (Genesis 16). Having had a taste of Egypt (the world), Lot started measuring everything by what he saw there (13:10-11); and this led to his downfall and the ruin of his family. There are no benefits from disobedience.

The practical lesson from all of this is simply never abandon your altar. Stay in fellowship with the Lord no matter what the circumstances may be. If you have disobeyed and God is disciplining you, go back to the place where you left Him and make things right.[7] – Warren W. Wiersbe


God, in most situations, chooses common men and women of the world to do his work.  In doing so they cannot and will not brag or even take credit for their accomplishments.  This is a reflection of the action god takes in salvation.  In Ephesians 2:8, Paul explains this very truth when he states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We cannot boast of our salvation since the entire process was a completed action of God.

We see in God’s choice of Rebecca an example of choosing a person who was a commoner.  However, we also see that hand of God controlling every detail as he chooses the right people to perform His perfect will and purpose. 

Abraham chose a person to search for a wife for Isaac.  The act led to the future of God’s people.  He did not select a person of high stature or nobility.  Nor did he send a message to an official of his father’s homeland to make the decision. 

Being a person of great faith himself, Abraham first turned to God for a plan.  He then chose a trusted servant, believed to be Eliezer,[8]  Even though Eliezer was deemed to be a faithful servant, he was still a servant, a hired hand.  However, Abraham trusted him enough to choose the wife of his only son.  The wife of the one who would now be, not only the father of a great nation but a significant person in the line of Jesus. 

Lesson Within the Lesson:

As Christians, what do we have in common with Abraham, Sarah, and the rest of the “heroes of faith” listed in Hebrews Chapter 11?  Read 1 John 5:5.

What was different about Abraham and Sarah that caused the writer of Hebrews to include them in this work?

What did Abraham and Sarah recognize that many times is difficult for us to understand?  See especially: 2 Corinthians 4:7.

What do we do when we feel that things are not going as we had hoped or expected? Read 1 Peter 1:3-6.

[1] Arthur W. Pink, Chapter 65: The Faith of Abraham, An Exposition of Hebrews, davidcox.com., Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law.

[2]Abraham, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/abraham.html

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament, © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe. Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law.

[4] ABRAHAM & SARAH The Ordinary Patriarch© 20 1 1 sparkhouse. Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law,. augsburgfortress.org/media/ downloads/reformAncestors/LG/Ancestors_LG_OT_session3.pdfStudy:

[5] Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 12:4". Public Domain"Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged", © 2016 Studylight.org,  "www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-12.html". 1871-8, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law,

[6] Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

[7] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe. Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law,

[8] John Gill, John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible-Eliezer, © 2014 Bible Study Tools, All Rights Reserved, biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/genesis-15-2.html, Public Domain