After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
You lived before monotheistic religion existed. How did you know there was a God?
I’ve always believed in God, even when others didn’t. I remember getting up early as a young boy and watching the morning sun light up the mountains as if they were on fire. It stirred something inside me, and I remember thinking, “There must be something that made all this beauty.” Or I’d see the moonlight dancing on the ripples in the Euphrates River at night, and local people would say it was a moon god, but that didn’t quite sit right with me. So it didn’t surprise me when the Lord showed up on my doorstep one day. Looking back on it, I think he’d been calling to my heart for a long time.
One of your defining moments was when God made a covenant with you. What do you remember about that moment?
Actually, I remember my fear more than anything else. Looking back, I wish I’d had more faith. But the Lord had promised so many things that seemed, in my mind, impossible. Most of my life I’ve been afraid. Afraid that things were too good to be true. Afraid that my land or my wife or my life would be snatched by desert raiders or evil foreign leaders. I’m ashamed to admit this now, but I had trouble believing that the covenant promises would come true.
So what changed?
It all changed that night. I brought the cow, goat, ram and birds and cut each in half as God directed. Traditionally, I would have walked between the two sections as a pledge to keep my promise. But I fell into a deep sleep and saw a vision of a blazing torch passing between the animal pieces. It was God taking the covenant walk, telling me that he would never break his promises! My heart leaps with joy whenever I remember that vision.
Another defining moment of your life had to be the near sacrifice of Isaac. How did you know that God was going to come through when he told you to kill your son?
I can’t begin to put into words the anguish I felt on that long, three-day journey. And tying Isaac to the altar was more difficult than you could ever imagine. But I had courage because God had already proven to me that he was a God of life. He had helped my wife Sarah—who had never been able to have children—to have a son. I knew he was a miracle-working, life-creating God. The only way I was able to fathom the thought of driving a knife into my son was that I knew Yahweh was fully capable of bringing life back into being.
Read Abraham’s Story