About this series

This series is a commentary on the life of Abraham, and of his family. He was a great man, yet he faced profound realities and contradictions, which all bring our own realities into stark perspective. His story is not a "happily ever after", "happy ending" fairy tale - it is a very real story of a very real man, who, unlike us, could not turn to his church, community or other social reference points. God spoke to him every now and then, but otherwise his thoughts were as haunted as the hills of Canaan and the only whispered voice was the sighing of the winds across the dunes or through the sparse grass. Yet, through his journey he came to a deep understanding of God, an understanding that set his life at the headwaters of the world's primary religions and at the crossroads of all history. The simple aramean, became one of the greatest of all lives, because he persisted with God until he broke through to a great place.


About the Chaldees

Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia, located near the mouth (at the time) of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers on the Persian Gulf and close to Eridu.

It is considered to be one of the earliest known civilizations in world history.

Because of marine regression, the remains are now well inland in present-day Iraq, south of the Euphrates on its right bank, and named Tell el-Mukayyar [1], near the city of Nasiriyah south of Baghdad

The site is marked by the ruins of a ziggurat (right), still largely intact, and by a settlement mound. The ziggurat is a temple of Nanna, the moon deity in Sumerian mythology, and has two stages constructed from brick: in the lower stage the bricks are joined together with bitumen, in the upper stage they are joined with mortar. The Sumerian name for this city was Urim.

Source: Wikipedia
The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,

Abram's call

"Get out of from this place", echoed the divine voice through the stillness of the night (Acts 7:3). Abram fell to the ground and shivered. "Get up, take your family and belongings and go where I lead you. He lay there all night long, unable to move, but resolved to do as God had commanded. In the morning, Sarai contended with him, arguing that they had little or no living knowledge of this God. Yet Abram stood firm, utterly riveted. It was done, he would go and his family with him. His father, Terah, tried to dissuade him, yet he carried on loading his belongings.

So Terah had Abram locked up with his own gods to reflect on his rashness. In the night Abram stood before each god, willing it to speak, but when nothing happened he struck the idol down in anger. Soon the floor was strewn with debris and Abram realised just how bankcrupt that pagan culture was. In the morning, Terah raged at what had happened, but Abram just said "I asked your gods for advice, but they couldn't agree on anything and started fighting amongst themselves". So Terah told Abram to take his family and go.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Heading out

"Abram, pray to the gods before you go", shouted Lot and Sarai. "I do not trust these gods", he replied. "I put my only son through the fire and what did it ever get me other than bitterness and a childless marriage. That was an offence to the Great God and it is enough that I must pay for that with my own life, but I will not stay in my error. I will not bow to gods of wood and stone ever again. The living God, the creator of the heavens and the earth has called me out of this culture, to forsake everything. I will follow Him."

Sarai, pleading now, cried back, "But Abram, this God you now serve, has He given you a son? Has He heard your prayers?" Abram shouted back so the whole village could hear him, "Noah obeyed the same God and built his ark, then God delivered him from judgement. I will follow the God of the ark, who establishes His testimony in us and delivers us from all evil. I too am building an ark, a bridge that will lead us across from this barren, pagan world into His eternal abudndance".

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The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Farewell to Ur

Abram was 37 when he departed from Ur of the Chaldees in ancient Mesopotamia. He left in 1528 BC. Ur was part of modern day Iraq, on the river Euphrates, near to Eden. Abram left fertile abundance for the barren solitude of the desert. He knew not where he was going, but followed a divine call.

He took with him, his wife Sarai, his brother in law, Lot, his father, his tents, household and flocks. At the crest of a hell he looked back and bid a final farewell to the bustling city of Ur. His last view was of the towering ziggurat of Ur, home of the sumerian moon god. After leaving, Abram turned towards the North-West, to Haran, where Terah died and was buried. It was the beginning of a 600 km journey that would effectively last one-hundred and thirty eight years. It would establish him as the founder of the hebrew nation and father to the three primary world religions. He was a strong, resilient man, single minded man, set aside by God for an eternally significant purpose in a world that barely grasped the concept of a monotheistic God.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Abram followed a call

After the death of Terah, God called Abram again (Genesis 12). He told him to leave that country (Mesopotamia and its pagan ways) and head towards a country that God would yet show him (Canaan). God promised to make of Abram a great nation with a land of their own. He also declared a blessing over him and swore to bless those who blessed him, but to curse those who cursed him. God did not just throw these things randomly at an unsuspecting Abram.

Though I speculated earlier that he may have sacrificed a child as part of his pagan past, I submit that Abram was a deep thinker, who intensely searched after God and ultimately walked with the creator, but the favour of God came at a great personal price to Abram. The contrasts on his path helped to divide between his godless past and God-centred future. He was forced to contemplate the directionlessness of the Chaldean moon-god against the backlight of a vast canopy of stars that reflected the certainty of God's divine purposes. God also contrasted the dark heart of paganism (the futility of human sacrifice to non-gods) in the light of His own heart (a covenant borne out of God's sacrificial gift to us). Each step towards his own destiny stripped Abram of the misconceptions and follies of his past. Gradually God had invested his own heart in that one solitary giant to establish an oracle (Romans 2) of truth and a beacon of reason in a dark, godless world.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Abram followed a promise

Abram and Lot shepherded their flocks, herds and people across the vast, open plains of Mesopotamia, towards the distant lands of Canaan. They cut deep paths in the dry, dusty earth, in search of pasture and wells for their livestock. When they found good pasture they would camp for days and weeks at times, moving forward at an unhurried pace, but always following the leading of God, towards the land of promise.

At night they slept under a great canopy of stars that filled the heavens and twinkled in the blackness of the sky. This was the dwelling place of the great God. The sun and moon deities of Ur had been confined to the ziggurat, where chaldeans worshipped tangible but otherwise impotent symbols of contrived gods. Now as the heavens unfurled above him, God began to unveil the mysteries of His heart to Abram. Unlike the gods he had left, this God could not be left behind or confined by time or place. Abram walked with God, the great shephed, a tent in the wilderness, a wellspring of life, the eternal pasture of his soul, a guiding radiance through the long, still nights and a compelling vision by day. Across the burning sands, beyond the distant hills, lay his destiny in God.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Abram what have you done?

Mark Twain observed: "If statistics are right, Jews constitute but one percent of the human race." It suggests a nebulous dim puff of smoke lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning, are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all ages: and has done it with his hands tied behind him. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

t started with Abram, who sired a nation that birthed a savior - and the govenment shall ultimately rest on His shoulders. This series looks deeper into the towering, yet solitary life of the great patriarch. Abram (Genesis 13), having passed out of the lands of Sumeria, he lifted up his eyes and looked out across Canaan. "This is the land I will give to you and your descendants. Look to the North, South, East and West ... for wherever you place the souls of your feet, that is the land that I have given you. That small, significant parcel of land, at the center of the world, by the crossroads of the ancient trade routes, is the land that God gave to the Jews and it remains the most contested piece of real-estate in history. It is the cradle of monotheism, the birthplace of the redeemer, the place of sorrows where God intermediated for all. There the destiny of nations and the march of history will reach its climax when Messiah breaks through the clouds with ten thousands of His saints . .

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Abram left the cradle

The Hellenists gave the term "Mesopotamia" to the regions below modern day Baghdad, between the Tigris and Euphrates. It is a region that has held strategic interest to the great nations of history, even to the present era. It was formely regarded as Sumerian after possibly the oldest city of recorded history, Sumeria. The region was one of a handful of city states that served as a cradle to early civilisation. It is my own theory that Eden lay beyond the current water courses, below the waters of the Arabian gulf. As the earth cooled, water condensed into the great basins of the world and also reduced the high humidity levels of the highlands, resulting in a migration to the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates. The area provided the birth place of mid and near east civilisations and it was clearly also the place where early bible incidents took place, including the building of the tower of Babel and the settlement of the sons of Shem, son of Noah: they were the ealiest semites (shemites).

Abram emerged from this fairly advanced, but pagan and (if Babel is anything to go by) willful culture. He left it all behind, to face another contradiction in the dry, barren wastelands towards Canaan. He left a fertile, progressive but spiritually barren cradle, for a dry, dusty but spiritually fruitful plain, where he grew up and became a significant man and father in God. As he entered Canaan, he camped between Bethel, the house of God and future touchstone of Israel, and Ai, a heap of ruins that symbolised the corrupt, uncertain remnants of his past.
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The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Abram's indiscretions

It fascinates me how honest and real the bible is. It tells us how it was and never white-washes the indiscretions of great people for the sake of a divine reputation. It is to God's own glory that He could achieve so much with such imperfect souls and it is to our benefit that He is willing to do so. The king of Egypt thought Sarai was a great beauty and Abram disclaimed her as his sister to protect his own skin. He did that twice, but Sarai seemed to understand him better than we can and certainly God remained silent on the matter, except insofar as such incidents were recorded in scripture.

Then came a defining moment when Sarai convinced Abram to sire a son through her handmaid. The boy, Ishmael strove with Abram's eventual heir and became a fugitive. Centuries later Ishamel's children would still be a major thorn in the side of Isaac's decsendants. His indiscretion assumed the possibility of compromising on God's promise to ensure a male heir to Abram. It gave him a son alright, but plenty of troubles besides.

Sarai eventually so despised the proud arrogance of Hagar, Ishmael's mother, that she banished the woman from Abram's camp. Yet God blessed Ishmael anyway, for he was Abram's offspring. Abram's indiscretion was costly, yet so are the compromises we make in pursuit of God's promises. He is faithful to fulfill all His promises, but equally resolute in making us live with the consequences of our short-sightedness.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,

Lot strove with Abram

God had called Abram. Lot merely went along for the ride. Yet even as a passenger, Lot gleaned many of the rewards of being under Abram's wing. Nonetheless, the two men represented divergent world views that paved the way for conflict between their descendants. The call of God was like a sword, defining the two men and distinguishing Abram. It was another contradiction that set a pattern for God's dealings with people, for He uses our apparent contradictions and dilemmas to clarify His own values, ways and purposes - He never sets out to destroy, but uses our life experiences to establish us and equip us for our future inheritance. However, the way any two people respond to God's working in their lives can lead them down divergent paths and turn family or friends into long term enemies, because the path chosen by one will always provoke the other.

The contradictions between the two men came to a head when they contended for common pasture. This led to division and consequently the two needed to decide where to live. Abram had enough confidence in God's calling and favor to let his foolhardy relative choose the best of the land together with the riches and prosperity of a worldly culture. Even then Abram realized that things are never quite as they seem, whilst things that many despise often lead to the rich rewards of God. Thus it happened that eventually Abram had to rescue Lot when envious neighbors contended for the same prize. He subsequently also rescued Lot from the corruption and decadence that prosperity brought. Eventually, Abram's descendants annexed all the land that Lot had claimed, but the land of promise was blessed and transferred to Abram and His descendants as a perpetual heritage. Abram's advantage lay in the certainty of God's favor and the call over his life - it enabled him to make astute, log-term decisions and bide his time until God realized a far better outcome in his life.

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A covenant made, Genesis 15

A warm desert wind caught the flap of his tent and swished in the stillness of the night. Abram lay awake staring at the ceiling, his heart pounding with a sense of occasion. The wind caught the flap again and blew it wide open, giving him a brief glimpse of a starry sky. He rolled, got to his feet, stepped through the tent and looked up at a vast canopy of stars that covered the sky. The camp remained silent as he crept away, up an embankment, outside the camp, where he lay down to gaze at the sky.

"Abram, count the stars". Abram rolled over and fell on his face in the dust, but kept silent. "As you see the stars, so shall your descendants be for number ... as numerous as the sands of the seashore. But the child you have sired, shall not be your heir, for you shall have your own son. I am the God who called you out of Ur to this land, which I have given to you and your descendants".

Abram lay still for hours, but as the morning sun streaked across the sky he got up, descended to the camp and took what he needed for a sacrifice. He spoke to no one, but led a heifer and a lamb into the hills. As the last star blinked out in the light of dawn, he mounted a hillock where he gazed out of over the land of his inheritance and worshipped God.

The life and times of Abraham (c) P Eleazar,


Mechizedek, King of Salem

There is much speculation about Melchizedek, including a widely held notion that He was an incarnation of God, a view advanced by thirteen fragments found with the dead sea scrolls of Qumran. There is no theological support for this idea, but no one doubts that He was a myserious and significant figure.

Our best record of Melchizedek is found in Hebrews 7, which declares Jesus as a priest of an "order", the order of Melchidekek. This has precedence over the Levitical order and was esteemed by Abram.

We know from Hebrews 6 that Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the original king of peace. Hebrews 7 compounds the mystery surrounding the man, by indicating that he was without father or mother (which arguably meant there was merely no record of his lineage) and without beginning or end of days (alluding to his sudden appearance and disappearance in biblical records).

Abram esteemed Melchizedek so highly that he worshipped Him and paid a trubute (tithe) to Him of the spoils taken from Chedarloamer. This implies that He worshipped the true God, something which was probably fairly commonplace at the time. He was also the original King of Jerusalem and a type of Christ, the last and ultimate king and priest of the same city.

Finally the priest, whose name means "My King is righteous", served bread and wine to Abram and then blessed him. Jesus instituted the same covenant meal, but the fact that Melchizedek blessed Abram suggests a very significant person, for biblically, the less is blessed by the greater.

Abram and Lots more

One has to ask, given that near-eastern names tended to carry symbolic meaning, what did Lot's name really mean? If he had a lot of anything, I would have asked him to cut down and do with less of it ... foolishness that is. He opted to live in a materially desirable, morally bancrupt culture, down in a valley, far below the strategically advantageous highlands where Abram lived. Thus he never saw the trouble coming that he and that wretcheded town should have anticipated in those heady, violent times. Then one day they came for Sodom, plundered it and dragged away the inhabitants, including luckless Lot.

When news reached Abram, he formed a posse and divided his forces into three, surrounding and overwhelming them at the tar-pits of Siddim (oil deposits were already evident). He returned with all the goods and people that had been plundered, but would have nothing to do with the king of Sodom, who wanted to trade the goods for all the souls that Abram had rescued. What Abram did want was to offer tithes and sacrifices to a mystical high priest, Melchizedek, who evidently had no beginning nor end of days ... perhaps Jesus, a priest after the order of Mechizedek (Hebrews 7), was the same person and maybe Abram saw a preincarnation of Jesus ... I don't know. What I do know is that Abram ate a covenant meal of bread and wine with the priest, and he was then blessed by Him.

Not to be outdone, Lot then got into more trouble, not realising that the king of Sodom was a bad leader, a type of Satan, who dealt in souls and corruption. Lot should also have known that Sodom was not where he belonged .... but he was a slow learner. He should have stayed closer to Abram, a truly great, competent man and a living example in a world of contradictions.


A cut above

In Genesis 17, God called Abram aside and confirmed His covenant with him and his descendants. As God confirmed the covenant, He also changed Abram's name to Abraham, meaning "Father to many nations". He similarly changed Sarai's name to Sarah, the meaning of which is not clear, although Hebrew scholars take it to mean princess or honoured.

God then covenanted to make Abraham a father to nations and to keep His covenant with His descendants, to be their God and to give them the whole of the land of Canaan.

However, a covenant required reciprocation. It was always that way. Two parties would always commit to each other and God now required Abraham to seal the covenant in blood, through the circumision of his foreskin. This was to be applied on the 8th day of every new born son.

There are noteable practical reasons for this including cleanliness, health and sexual considerations. There was a strong cultural consideration too, for the practice distinguished the Jews from the pagans, right up to the modern era. Remaining uncircumcised, risked being "cut off" (Hebrew karet) to bear reproaches like Arelim (uncircumcised) or Tame (unclean).

God also linked the ritual, in genesis 17, to nation bearing. The covenant related to Abraham's seed and his offspring. That was what God was blessing. The blood covenant: confirmed his fatherhood, sealed his seed, blessed his offsping and separated his people unto God.

The New Testament equivalent relates to circumcision of the heart, in which God seals us with His Holy Spirit to separate unto Himself a Holy People drawn from every tribe and nation.

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My promise is made sure

Three visitors appeared outside of Abraham's tent one day, but references to the meeting, in Genesis 18, are all in the singular. The account starts with "The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre", but then Abraham addresses them as one man. God is three, yet one; three personas, one person; three facets, one diamond. It is significant that three witnesses are seen, for it is in the confirmation of three witnesses that God's intent is confirmed.

Whereas the promise of a son had been somewhat general up to then, God now witnessed and confirmed the promise of Isaac. The general references were replaced with specific references about: when (this time next year); what (you will have a son) and how much (one son).

This was the turning point in Abraham's long journey with God. Sarah sniggered at what she heard and God rebuked her for that, for His intent was now clearly defined. The matter was decided. Such is God's authority, that His Word is deliverance enough: for once He speaks His heart nothing can reverse the outworking thereof: whether it is a negative or positive word, a judgement or a blessing.

Esau repented with tears but could never reclaim his birthright and King Saul repented with tears but never regained his kingdom. A word spoken by God is enough - His authority is supreme and His will for our lives will come to pass on the strength of His Word alone. If His word spoken in judgement over His enemies is sure, how much surer will the promise over those He loves stand sure.

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I feel swell

Sarah, had laughed at the idea that an old woman, who had blindly followed her willful husband into nowhere, should now conceive a son in her barren womb. But God had spoken it and shortly thereafter a feisty woman would have said to her grey-haired soul-mate, "Come here Abie, let's make this baby", to the wry smile of a not unwilling accomplice.

Of course, fulfillment of God's promise did not immediately appear fully formed in her, nor was there a sudden knocking from within, to let her son out. No, a moment of conception had happened at a microscopic level. The next day, week and month, would still provide no evidence.

Her menstrual cycle may have abruptly ended the recurring cycle of hopefulness and disappointment, but she had probably passed menopause: accentuating the miracle of the moment.

Eventually, she would have turned to the old man in her bed and said, "Hey Abie, look ... there is a swelling and its not the mosquitoes. God is fulfilling His Word in me: our promised son rises up in confirmation."

Believers face hard, dry seasons where His Word is nothing more than words spoken about something that may happen one day, hopes that rise, then fall back in dissilusionment. But when His purpose is confirmed, there is no phantom pregnancy: reality will birth in us and we will breakthrough, thus ending the rending of the heart and the bleeding of our wretched souls.

Finally the Word matured and a promise conceived as a tiny spark of life, emerged as the torch that would take Abraham's legacy through the dark uncertainty of the future. The glory of God's purpose, so conceived in one, solitary boy, would emerge as a nation and prepare the way for Messiah.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


Hello Isaac

Shortly after the birth of his firstborn son, Abraham would have dedicated him to God. On the 8th day, according to God's instructions regarding circumcision, Isaac then found out why the first cut is the deepest.

Through the ensuing years, Isaac spent a lot of his formative life with Sarah, where he learnt their language, the basic principles of their culture and concepts of discipline. Abraham, a busy and influential man, old as he was, still managed his fields and his herds, sometimes even meeting with community leaders, kings and business people.

Isaac learnt some things from the servants, perhaps things like hunting, milking and slaughtering. To survive he needed practical skills.

Abraham was not as strong or active as a younger father would have been, yet he still found time to instruct his only son on many things, including the deep values of his heritage and the history of his people. Like all sons, Isaac's sense of his dad was one of wonder. He would long for his dad to return when he had been away and delight to sit in his lap at the end of a hearty meal, or listen in wonder as the old man related stories of legend and the heart of his faith.

Their walks through the hills and across the grassy plains, their nights spent under starry skies or around the fire filled the heir to the Abrahamic dynasty, with an intimate sense of his great father's deep heart for God.

Abraham looked with wonder at the gathering strength of his boy and felt reassured about the future. His love for his son was made more sure by his pricelessness and the long, long wait he had endured for so great a blessing. Isaac was Abraham's favourite son, his only son and the apple of his eye, a torchbearer whose fire would burn through the pages of history and keep his legend alive forever.


Get up Abraham, take your son .....

"Abraham, take your son, your only son Isaac, to a place I will show you and there offer him as a sacrifice to me."

Abraham lay awake that night, tossing and turning as he wrestled with what God had asked of him. The loneliest night confronted him, for he had to bear his pain alone.

At four in the morning, when the first birdsong was heard, Abraham crept into his son's tent, shook him and told him to get dressed, for they were going on a journey. This was not altogether unusual for the family, so it would not have alarmed Sarah, but Abraham told her nothing of his plans.

They departed the farm in the twilight, to the soft sounds of sleeping forms, the gentle lowing of cattle and bleat of lambs. Long shadows crept across the ground and a mist hung over the valleys. The sky was clear and within half an hour the sun peeked over the horison, getting on with its normal activities, as was everything else, oblivious to the extraordinary crisis and significant moment confronting Abraham and his family.

How many have woken up on a fateful day to hear of the death of someone dear, driving through traffic in tears whilst life carries on as though nothing had happened. Those are the loneliest moments anyone can know, but at least we can find some support in friends, family or church.

Abraham had no support structure. He belonged to no congregation and had no family to turn to. He also could not share his pain with his closest confidantes.

Isaac was excited about the journey and animated. He wanted to know where they were going, but Abraham gave no details. Because of his sullen disposition, Isaac and the servants walked on ahead, leaving Abraham alone with his thoughts, his fears and his deep pain.

The defining moment of his long life had finally come.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


Abraham died, Isaac just trembled a bit

To have witnessed the events that unfolded when Abraham, that towering giant of bible history, faced his defining moment, would have been a very humbling experience.

But the only human witness was Isaac and he only had a bit part in what was one of the most profound dramas of recorded history.

We tend to regard Isaac as a tragic part of the whole story, the suffering, sacrificial son. But he only faced about ten seconds of terror and then basked in the glory of the moment that he shared with his father.

Abraham, on the other hand, bore the pain alone and he fully understood its implications. He never involved his wife, his servants or his son. The implications for him were the potential end to his life work and his aspirations for a lasting legacy. Not only would Isaac's death break his old heart, it would also cut him off from the land of the living and sever his share in the burgeoning kingdom of God.

He had pusued a promise, whilst trying to outrun a pagan past. Now the past and the future collided in a single moment that would define the future of God's working amongst humankind.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


A time to die

On the first day of his long walk to Moriah, Abraham died. He died to his dreams and hopes, particularly relating to his stake in the future of God's kingdom amongst men.

I have no doubt that a deep heartbreak filled his life as realisation washed over his frail, old heart. All he ever held dear was heading for the altar, to be given back to God: rightly so, perhaps, because all he had, came from God in the first place.

As he walked alone along the desert floor, with his son and servants out in the distance, Abraham agonised over his predicament. He had waited so very long for Isaac's birth and then carefully shepherded him through his youth, passing on his own values before time ran out on him.

His carefulness was reflected in the way he later made arrangements for Isaac's future bride. He left nothing to chance, showing the kind of attention to detail that reflected his life journey. He would have applied the same care to Isaac's formative years, thereby forging an intimate bond with his only begotten son: the Greek word for this in the New testament, is monogenes, literally meaning "genetically unique".

Abraham had taken the time and trouble to prepare Isaac for a future role, but now had to live with the notion that he had been preparing a lamb for the slaughter, a firstling of the flock for the altar.

Centuries later, Jesus said "Sacrifice and offering you sought not, but a body you have prepared for me. For in sacrifices and offerings you have no pleasure, but I have come to do your will Oh God (Psalm 40:6 and Hebrews 10)." The parallel between these two lives is clear, for Jesus evidently also spent His own years preparing for a defining moment: a sacrifice on the same hill where Isaac was offered. The vital difference is that Isaac was substituted by a lamb, but Jesus became the substitutionary lamb.

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A time to bury

On the third day of the defining chapter in Abraham's long life, the bible declares, "He lifted his eyes and saw the place (of sacrifice) afar off".

The language used suggests optimism, a change of posture from the grim stoop of the preceding two days. He had been downcast, now he looked up. What happened on day two that can only be deduced from the bible?

Three day journeys in the bible imply a period of waiting on God through a ccyle of death, burial and resurrection: Jonah was in the whale for three days and Jesus said that it would be for Him as it had been for Jonah and Israel waited three days before crossing the Jordan to reconcile themselves to a dead past and a new future.

So if Abraham died on day one and evidently rose to new hope on day three, then we could regard day two as a time of burial. Indeed, on that day he found reason to lift his head as he let go of Isaac and reconciled himself to his limited perspective of Isaac.

For whilst Abraham saw in Isaac, a son, God saw a father. Whilst Abraham saw continuance, God saw the passage of history. Whilst Abraham saw a fragile incident, God saw a mighty journey. Whilst Abraham saw a lamb in a thicket, God saw the saviour on a cross. Whilst Abraham hoped for descendants, God saw a people drawn from every tribe and nation. Whilst Abraham saw a vulnerable boy, God saw a mighty people. Whilst Abraham saw a land of inheritance, God saw an everlasting kingdom.

Abraham rightfully conceded that he had no power to keep Isaac or preserve his own legacy, other than by entrusting it all to the surpassing power and purpose of an eternal God. The influences on Israel threatened their entire history and Abraham had no means to intervene in that reality, yet God did intervene and preserved Abraham's legacy to the present day.

So when Abraham lifted his head on day three it was because he knew that the future was in good hands. He had given Isaac back to God so that divine purpose could be outworked and as such he knew that however things worked out up there on that hill, it would not signal an end, but a beginning.

Effectively Abraham buried himself on those plains and died to his own right of way. He acknowledged that he was just a small part of a legacy that reflected God's deliberate and patient sifting and crafting of the hearts of great men and women. It was clearly bigger than him and not about to be thrown away on his account, anymore than God would put six thousand years of history at risk by making you an exception to His promises.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


A new and certain future

Abraham emerged from his dilemma with a sealed covenant, a sure faith and rest from his long toils.

A covenant between consenting individuals, in bible times anyway, generally implied: All that is mine is yours and all yours is mine. If I should die, the covenant will not die with it: for you will continue to honour me in the way you care for all that effectively becomes yours through my death.

As Abraham reached the foot of Moriah, he came to a realisation that in offering his son to God, he would ultimately offer all he had. Isaac was the only link to Abraham's future and thus symbolised his whole life. In offering Isaac, who would suffer a few moments of anguish, Abraham would effectively offer himself. It was a moment of ultimate consecration to the God who called him from the Chaldees so many years earlier.

But in offering all he had, the instrument of sacrifice would become the common ground of covenant. Thus, Abraham gave a son and with him, his own life, his dreams of the future and his legacy. In turn, God entrusted the same to Abraham: His own people, His eternal purposes and His glory.

The covenant committed God to Abraham's descendants: to keep them and preserve His promises in them. It would allow Abraham to sleep in peace, knowing that the covenant would outlive his mortality. In turn, the covenant obligated Abraham and his descendants. Romans 2 distinguished them as the "oracles of God".

No doubt Abraham and his descendants have paid deeply for the implications of that covenant. But, in turn, God has never forsaken His people. He has preserved Israel as the most enduring culture of history, despite the unbelievable odds stacked against her. As much as He has sustained her, so she has matured to become a light on a hilltop, a beacon of truth in a dark-world and the sundial of history.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


A time to live again

Abraham saw the hill of sacrifice far off and lifted his head. His posture changed and hope revived.

After a tortuous two days of deep uncertainty and confusion, Abraham lifted his head, but he did so some distance before they reached Moriah.
The language used is subtle, but it does not suggest the kind of defiant look of a man bracing himself for the dentist. He looked up long before he had to and took the scene in.

His heart and mind flooded with anticipation of a long overdue appointment with his God, the great and faithful companion who had walked with him and watched over him over so many seemingly fruitless years.

That journey was about to climax and Abraham was about to seal his covenant with the Great I Am. He knew it, but could not imagine what would happen on the hill. No word had come from God to spare him the ordeal of taking his son up the hill to sacrifice him, so it was with trepidation mixed with a deep hope that he approached that last hill.

He then laid the burden of firewood on his son's back and led him up the Moriah, just as Jesus would one day bear the wood of His own sacrifice up the hill of Calvary: but in both cases, the actors in these climactic scenes came back down the mountain again to give enduring hope to their descendants.

(c) peter Eleazar at


It's over

Having faced a death out there on the plains, a denial that led to acceptance and burial of his dreams on day two, Abraham was reconciled to a better hope in God. He braced himself for the mountain and led his son up its winding path to the summit.

Isaac inquired about the sacrificial lamb, but Abraham reinferred his unspoken hope when he said, "God has provdied himself a lamb for the offering".

In the midst of great uncertainty, faith propelled him to the top. His anticipation of God's provision was intense, but his thoughts and feelings so mixed.

Unfortunately, when they arrived God was not there or not evidently so. The summit was bleak and desolated. No sign of life occupied the hill and all he heard was the soft sighing of the wind though the grass.

Dread filled his heart as he heaved the load of wood off Isaac's back onto the rock. Then he laid Isaac on the altar and bound him. Only then did Isaac realise what was happening.

Abraham sobbed within, tears welled up and he sighed deeply. His son cried out, but not wishing to prolong his pain Abraham quickly lifted his knife and prepared to sacrifice his son.

"No" shouted Isaac, "No, Dad don't. Don't do this, I am your son."

His arms were at their full height and he braced his frame for the downward plunge, aiming for a quick, clean and painless kill.

"No" shouted another voice, which Abraham initially ignored until the owner of that voice grasped his arm in a vice-like grip, "No" (softer), "No" (a whisper), Abraham No. It's over, your son is spared. See over there is God's provision ...

Abraham fell to the ground and sobbed as his past, his future, his fears and dreams collided inside that frail old heart. "My God" (between deep sobs), "My God" (I can't say anymore).

(c) Peter Eleazar at


God provided a lamb

Voices in the head, the heart, over there, over here. Outside the clamor another noise, bleating..
Abraham dropped the knife, fell down and lay in the dust. Waves of relief coursed over his tired frame. The sun beat down on his back. Rivers of sweat ran down his face. Tears welled up in his eyes.

“Abba, Abba” he heard afar off through the haze of thoughts racing through his mind. He lay quite still, sobbing. Great waves of emotion racked his body and he heaved inconsolably.

Another voice commanded his authority and broke into his reverie. “Abraham, now I know that you fear me, for you did not even held back your son. Get up and be blessed”.

Slowly Abraham drew himself to his feet. “Abba, Abba” came the shouts again, closer now. He looked through his misty eyes and suddenly remembered Isaac was still tied to the altar. He grabbed his knife and ran to the boy, who recoiled in fear. But Abraham quickly severed the cords and untied Isaac. The boy gingerly rose from the altar, but his father lifted him and then embraced him.

Isaac held on to his father but remained wary. But the emotions of the moment soon overwhelmed him and he returned the embrace. “This was between us Isaac. Your mother must never know that God told me to offer you as a sacrifice, but then spared you.”

The bleating of the lamb then reached both men. Abraham deliberately sacrificed the lamb on the altar and showed Isaac how “God had provided Himself a lamb”.

“Abraham”. Both men went still and listened to a whisper caught on the wind. “Blessed are you Abraham. I swear by myself that because you have done this and not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. Your descendants shall take possession of the cities of their enemies and though your offspring all nations on earth shall be blessed because you obeyed me”.

The two men stood for a long while and then sat down on some rocks to watch the sun set on that momentous day. The smoke of the fire curled up into the evening air and the evening star shone in the twilight. “Abba, what happened here?” asked Isaac at last.
(c) Peter Eleazar at


You are His, His is mine

Abraham looked at Isaac and realized how much had changed in that single, fragile defining moment..

“Isaac, you ask what happened here and your question is good. I am not totally sure what happened and I think you, your son and your descendants will have to interpret this. Somewhere in the distant future, a key to this whole event will come. This lamb was a provision for this moment, but it is a shadow of the greater provision that God has reserved for our people.”

“But Abba”, spoke Isaac, “you always taught me that Yah was different to the pagan gods. You told me what they did in your homeland and why you left all of that, but you were about to offer me as a sacrifice to Yah. How can that be? Maybe God was testing to see if you had changed and had come to see Him for what He is?”

“No, Isaac, the same voice that told me to leave the past also told me to offer you back to Him. But that offering took on a whole new meaning when He stayed my hand. You became a living sacrifice, dedicated unto Yah. This was convocation. As men were initiated into my past culture, so God has now integrated us into His Kingdom. Today, on this hill you became His … and His became mine.”

“I don’t understand Abba.”

“You, the man Isaac, were dedicated to God today. But in turn the people of God who will now come from you, today became my people. God sealed His covenant today. All that is mine, you, my only son and all that you represent, became His. But in turn, all that is His, His legacy in the earth, the history of His working amongst men, the inheritance we have in a future redeemer of Israel, all of that, became ours. God will no longer just be Yah, but has now become, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac.” We are now fully integrated into what He is doing and He will surely be careful to watch over us and bless us in the future. His covenant will never pass from our descendants.”

Abraham stood up and climbed on top of a rocky mound, where he gazed out at the valleys and plains below Moriah. The wind blew through His hair. A full moon lit up the view. After some time, Isaac joined His father on the hill. “All that is ours. God has given it to us as a perpetual covenant. Wherever I placed my foot became my inheritance and yours. Today God sealed that covenant.”

(c) Peter Eleazar at


This land is your land

Abraham stood at the edge of the hill and at the edge of his destiny, to reference the stars again.

Silence fell over the two gaunt figures on that lonely hill. They stood for a long while, drinking it all in. Eventually Isaac retreated and found a place to sleep, but Abraham kept his vigil, worshipping His God: standing at the edge of the hill on the threshold of his destiny.

Soon a canopy of stars crystallized the heavens into billions of sparkling jewels, strung out along a priceless necklace. Abraham had seen forms in the stars and had learnt to attach meaning to constellations and the moon. It was not the kabbalistic or mystical, magical stuff of modern day astrology, just an interpretation of the stars according to Genesis 1:14, in terms of which God said, “Let them be for signs and seasons”. That which Abraham deeply appreciated was later corrupted to become a dark gateway to the occult.

In the sky, he at least gained some idea of the immensity of his heritage, a people who would be as the stars of the heavens for multitude. I do believe that the language used in these promises, prophetically referred to the New and Old Testament churches.

The Old Testament model was like the sands, many grains in one homogenous system, bound to one mound, with no sub-groups or individual expressions. The sand spoke of Israel, that one nation that was called to be God’s oracle to the world. Israel is that precious, elect nation that has been the sharp-end of His workmanship in the world.

The New Testament is better characterized by the stars, which represent planets within their solar systems, clustered into larger galactic systems. That is a good analogy of the church. She is one universe, the term used in statistics or data modeling to describe a single aggregation or composition. Within that universal system, which we regard as the global church, are many subsystems: apostolic and denominational structures representing smaller sub-groupings or clusters of churches and church structures.

I do not believe that Abraham saw this through a hierarchical lens, but from the perspective of diversity within unity. Paul confirms that idea in Ephesians 4, where he refers to differences of operations but the same God who is all in all. In the same context, Paul said that we are no longer male or female, bond or free, Jew or Scythian, but one commonwealth,(Ephesians 3) bound together by a shared inheritance in one God, one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism (Ephesians 4). We are also bound together by a realistic commitment to keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4).

(c) Peter Eleazar at


I will never leave you

Isaac today you became God’s, the firstborn of His people. But I will never stop being your father.
Isaac did not fall asleep immediately. Like his father, he gazed up at the stars and wondered at the events of the day. He knew from his father that the stars held significance for them, but at such a young age he was as yet unable to interpret anything. He recalled that his father had once been part of a culture that worshipped the moon, a symbol that still seemed to fascinate his half brother, Ishmael. But the stars seemed to engage Abraham, maybe because he had spent so much of his life under cloudless night skies, gazing up at such profound grandeur.

Eventually Isaac fell asleep. His dream was fitful at first, as he relived the fearful moment when the knife hung over him. He woke sweating, but soon tiredness reclaimed him and then he dreamt of wonders beyond words. He saw his descendants dispersed amongst the stars, millions of lights twinkling in the black night, each holding some significance for a future yet to be written.

Finally the night slipped away, fleeing before the rising sun. Isaac stirred, opened his eyes and sat up to gaze out at the sunrise and the vast gold-dusted plains below, through the soft haze of morning. It was then that he realized Abraham’s absence and it troubled him. He called, “Abba”, and then louder and more frantically in the awareness of his loneliness on the hill. The events of the previous day came back to haunt him as he walked pass the lazy wisps of smoke still curling up from the altar. “Where are you Abba?”

Suddenly he remembered the rock that Abraham had ascended the previous night and he clambered up. But still he could not see his father, but just as he was about to cry out again he heard a groan and saw his father prone on the edge of the hilltop. “Abba” he whispered. The old man raised his head and looked at his son. His eyes were red with tiredness and hours of sobbing. “Abba, I was worried that you had left me.”

After a long, pregnant silence, Abraham whispered, “Yesterday I gave you back to Yah, but I will still never stop being your father. Isaac, I will never leave you, for God has restored you to me and I cherish you above my own life. You are my life, my future, my destiny. My people are within your loins and you are the first born of God’s promise.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


Go and do likewise

Abraham and Isaac descended the hill, which biblically implies the implementation of Godly purpose.

When Moses was in the mountain, God gave Him patterns and instructions, saying, “be careful to implement all the patterns shown you on this mount”. When he descended to the desert floor and rejoined the people, it was with the authority to begin the work that God commissioned him to do.

When Jesus was in the Judean hills, facing His wilderness trial, he received insights and principles from God. Immediately after He came down from the hill, God commissioned Him, as confirmed in the gospels. He read from Isaiah 61, “For the Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me (commissioning) to preach good news, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom to captives, to restore sight to the blind, to release those in bondage and to declare the year of God’s favor.” When He finished reading, He simply declared, “Today is this scripture fulfilled in your sight”. That signaled the start of His ministry and the patterns that would characterize His ministry.

So when Abraham and Isaac came off Mount Moriah, they too had crossed a line. Going up they were still searching for meaning and purpose, but at the top they crossed a watershed to return with a whole new perspective and vision. No more would they be pursuing God, rather they would be implementing God’s mandate for their lives. No more would they be coming to a place of significance, but they would be going out to start building on the significance of the mount.

God intends all our heartaches are meant to come to a climactic moment that will change us forever: transforming uncertainty into purpose, and dreams into vision. That is what we must hold out for and trust God to do in our lives, so that we may achieve closure on our formative years, step over the threshold and initiate a new role in the purpose and destiny of God’s kingdom. We will not enjoy fulfillment until then, for God has set within each of us the restlessness we need to keep on going till we find what we are looking for (Romans 8:20).

(c) Peter Eleazar at


The road back home

Abraham and Isaac return from Moriah with Eliezer. His faithful servant notices the change in Isaac.
Abraham and Isaac rejoined the servants and began the long journey home. The head servant, Eliezer, was once deemed to be Abraham’s sole heir until the birth of Isaac (Genesis 15:2).

It is a powerful witness to the character of the man, that Eliezer not only accepted the transfer of that mantle to Abraham’s only son, but that he also had to absorb the profound changes that took place in the relationship between Abraham and Isaac after the Moriah experience. It was such a watershed that we could well speak of a pre- and post-Moriah era.

Eliezer probably learnt about what happened on Moriah before his own death, because he outlived Abraham, as did the story. It is not impossible that such a trusty steward and faithful servant, was also entrusted with transferring the oracles to subsequent generations – I doubt if there was a more trusty man alive who had so proved his unwavering loyalty to his master, Abraham.

Eliezer was able to accept the change in status, because he too was an old man and content to live out the balance of his days in Abraham’s household. But, although he had known Abraham for most of his long life and had built a deep relationship with the Patriarch, he now watched that relationship shift, as Isaac came into prominence.

Isaac was now more than a son. His life and destiny changed forever on that hill. Up to then, he really was not much more than a servant, sitting at the feet of servants to learn the basic rules of life and the disciplines of Abraham’s household. But the changes in Isaac cast off that yolk and elevated him to significance in Abraham’s house, as a man (no more a child) of God.

The primary factor for those changes related to the principle of Isaac being offered back to God, a process of dedication that surrendered Abraham’s own parental prerogatives. The future of the heir, Isaac, was now largely out of Abraham’s hand, yet that future would still be Abraham’s future and it would ensure his co-inheritance in the kingdom of God. Indeed, as much as Abraham’s had returned his son to God, so God had ceded His people to Abraham, through Isaac, thereby perpetually sealing his patriarchal place in the history of Israel.

Another key consideration is that the events of Moriah had bound father and son into a very special relationship that no one else would ever understand. Unspoken knowing passed between them and choked them up each time they reflected on that moment on the windswept hill of Moriah.

For all of the changes in Isaac, Abraham still mentored his son and prepared him for his future role, but as the son had now come of age, the roles had changed: Isaac no longer instructed his son, but coached him and Isaac no longer sat at his feet or the feet of servants, but walked at his father’s side as coheir to the blessings of God.

Thus it came to pass that Abraham initiated the process of finding a wife for Isaac. It would be his final fatherly act and it would ensure the preservation of the blessing and his seed. Abraham had yielded to God but he would never let go of his own stake in the great legacy that had consumed his years and defined his life struggles.

It is things like this that have helped me to see Abraham as one of the greatest men that ever walked the earth and one of the men I will queue up to meet when and if (by God’s grace), I arrive on that distant shore.
(c) Peter Eleazar at


The mother of the nation died

Sarah, that great silent partner of Abraham, finally reached the end of her long journeys and slept.

Sarah may well have found out about Moriah before her death, but the nature of the event on that sacred mound was something that would normally not have been shared beyond the men directly involved.

Ultimately, Abraham preserved the record anyway, for the sake of posterity, but his servant Eliezer may have been the one to pass it on. Then again, Isaac, who outlived Abraham by many decades, could have transferred the story orally to the next generation, but the formal record would have been entrusted to faithful custodians, someone like his faithful servant, Eliezer.

At 127 years of age, Sarah breathed her last. She was an ancient woman of profound and immense human experience. She was a worthy mother of peoples, who had followed her husband into vast unknown lands to become a coheir of the inheritance of Israel. She was the progenitor of a great people who have left an indelible mark on human history.

Although she died in Canaan, the land bequeathed to Abraham by Jehovah, he was at that stage still an alien and he said as much to the Hittites: direct descendants of Noah’s son, Canaan. But they already saw Abraham as a great man and esteemed him as a prince, gladly selling the field of Machpelah for 400 shekels of silver. Ephron, who owned the cave in that field wanted to give it to Abraham, but the old man insisted on paying. Such was his heart towards his wife and God that he felt honor-bound to buy the cave so that it might be his forever – and so it was, for he was also buried there.

The name of Sarah’s final resting place, means “place of the double tombs”, suggesting that he deliberately purchased it so he could lie beside his lover, friend and life-time companion, where together they could keep an eye on their children and their children’s children. That site, in Hebron, is now deeply revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The cave was also located near Mamre, so that Abraham could stay close to the place where God originally covenanted with him. In a sense Abraham symbolically suggested that He would thus watch over the God who had covenanted to watch over his children, but it also meant he would rest easy in the knowledge that they would be in good hands.

In such a simple way, Abraham purchased a place of perpetual ownership in the land that would eventually belong to his descendants. He so cherished the future that God had promised to Him and his descendants, that He was that determined to find a place of lasting rest in the land that would ultimately define the borders of Israel.

This was a couple of towering faith and writing about them has helped me to see Abraham in a whole new light. Truly I too esteem them as some of the greatest souls that ever graced this planet and I will gladly queue to meet him when I reach that distant shore.

© Peter Eleazar at


Abraham set his affairs in order

Abraham, weary from years of desert wandering, took steps to secure a worthy wife for his son Isaac.
Sometime after Abraham buried his beloved wife and friend beneath the restless sands of Canaan, he became aware that the sands of time were running out on him too. The need to secure a wife for Isaac became a pressing priority. He had to ensure the preservation of his seed and the continuance of his great covenantal inheritance.

His inheritance demanded careful stewardship. Even at that late stage of his amazing journey, Abraham could have faltered, but he was far too determined to let anything slip.

Isaac needed a wife and Abraham’s last act in this life would involve the betrothal of his son to a woman worthy of that great blessing. In this, Abraham displayed enormous respect for the value of a woman, as mother and wife, something that has been somewhat lost to the Aramaic nations of the present age.

The old man knew the immense role a woman would play in raising his grandchildren, whilst supporting Isaac and holding him true to his heritage – after all he had walked most of his life with a profoundly noble woman who had made such a difference in the way things had turned out for him and Isaac.

Thus Abraham took great care to find a woman capable of stewarding their priceless heritage – time vindicated his actions, for she would ultimately play the telling role in avoiding a travesty of Isaac’s poor judgment, by ensuring that the blessing transferred to their more worthy heir, Jacob.

Perhaps Abraham took the trouble to secure a strong woman out of wariness for some unspoken weakness in Isaac, but in all fairness Isaac had to hold his ground as a solitary individual in a cultural wilderness of many competing influences. Rebekah’s intervention reflected the perspective that a wife should bring to a marriage in times of ambiguity.

Abraham reflects just how high a price he had paid to come as far as he had, by asking his servant, Eliezer, to go and find a wife for Isaac whilst making sure not to take his son back to his homeland and the gods thereof. He did not lightly entrust that burden to Eliezer. He bound him to a solemn oath that required his loyal servant to place his hand under Abraham’s thigh (a euphemism for touching his genitalia). Although such an oath was common practice, its symbolism related to the entrusting of an old man’s legacy to a trusted servant (it was enacted by Abraham in Genesis 24:2 and by Jacob in Genesis 47:29, with both accounts providing a pattern for valid interpretation).

His reasons for wanting a wife drawn from his ancestral home also reflected specific values. His people were the Semitic descendants of Noah. We read in Genesis 22:20-24, that Nahor, his brother, who had remained behind in the Chaldees, had produced twelve sons by his wife Milcah and a further eight sons through his concubine. The twelve sons of Nahor were to become twelve fathers of Aramaic tribes, just as Jacob would ultimately father the twelve tribes of Israel.

So there was a racial and a strategic consideration behind Abraham’s instructions to find a wife for Isaac in his brother’s house. Thus the sons of Shem (Semites) remain a distinct race to this day. They were Abraham’s only countrymen and he was careful not to cross-breed into other cultures. There could not have been a spiritual reason, for the peoples of Mesopotamia were no less pagan than the Canaanites. The reason had to be racial and related to the instinct for preservation that was later ingrained into Jewish culture.

© Peter Eleazar at


A bride for Isaac, a woman of God

In seeking a worthy wife for Isaac, Eliezer also sought a woman worthy of the great blessing of God.

Eliezer traveled northwards to Haran, Abraham’s ancestral home. In doing so he left his adopted home with the knowledge that what was once his anticipated inheritance, had since ceded to Isaac, Abraham’s sole heir and only son.

It now fell to Eliezer to honor his master and the oath that he had entered into regarding the search for Isaac’s wife. Although Eliezer was Egyptian and only a servant, his prayer speaks of the deep influence that Abraham had over his life. It suggests that the slave not only revered his master, he loved him.

So there was no conflict of interest for Eliezer, just a work to be faithfully executed. His prayer sought the prosperity of Jehovah God, the God of Abraham.

He set a test that Rebekah satisfied, but it is notable that his test looked for character. Eliezer not only heard Abraham’s words, he also understood the unspoken implications of his master’s instructions. He did not focus on beauty or outward appearances, but on the heart of the woman he would eventually lead back to Isaac’s tent.

Rebekah had nothing to gain or lose by being gracious, she just did what came naturally in showing kindness to a weary traveler. It was hard work too, for she had to walk down into the well and bring up enough water for Eliezer and his camels. But she did it all cheerfully, showing a pure heart and a gracious spirit. But what he also saw in her was determination, a resolute heart that would see things though.

Eliezer knew what kind of life she would face back in Mamre and I think he perceived certain weaknesses in Isaac. It was important to him, his master and to the great God who directed his way, that Isaac’s wife should be strong. The thing that she and Isaac would have to steward was of priceless value. Eliezer had a sound concept of its value or at least respected its value to his master Abraham.

Compare Eliezer’s respect for Abraham’s inheritance with the disrespect shown by Esau, Isaac’s firstborn and preferred son to be – is it possible that Esau picked up some of his nonchalance from his own father? If so, could there be some validity to unspoken suggestions of weakness in Isaac?

Ever since Abel stepped up to his altar and intuitively did what was pleasing to God, there has been a pattern of people whom God called because they had that special heart, a sense of what was right. We can fake many things, even go to church and attend regular meetings or give to the poor, but relatively few of those who do such things actually strike a chord with God and walk in rhythm with Him.

Many get it right through the course of a long, hard walk with God, others never get it, but some like Rebekah, step up to the plate and do the right things in their very first response to God. This is really amazing given that this woman was so immersed in an ungodly, pagan culture.

I suggest that a first response is a good indicator of future responsiveness, which is why Eliezer read so much into Rebekah’s behavior. This challenges us to be always ready to respond to God whenever He should call us, because we are quite capable of missing Him and living with sad regrets: thus Jesus said, “Be always instant in season”.

(c) Peter Eleazar at


The betrothal of Rebekah

God faithfully led Eliezer, through foreign lands to the ancestral home of Abraham, to find Rebekah.

Although Eliezer never set beauty above character or looks above grace, Rebekah was a beautiful woman. Her name means “captivating” (alternatively “binding”), implying “breath-taking” but also “enchanting” in the way that made men beholden to her.

Her father was Bethuel, which has the same Aramaic meaning as Bethel, the place which Jacob later anointed as Bethel, “The house of God”, in response to his great dream. Jacob’s mother came from “The house of God” and though he would return to his mother’s house as a fugitive from Esau, he only really found a place in the “House of God” – that was the place where he and his mother found common ground and it is also where we find common ground with God, the basis by which we are called the fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters of Jesus. If you read between the lines here, you must perceive that by the same means we are kindred of those great souls of history – we all find common ground in Christ and the house of God, and are thus all one family.

Rebekah, one of the four matriarchs of Judaism, was destined to become a great woman, as God’s hand was on her. She had somehow kept herself, in spite of her beauty. She was a virgin, untainted, pure in every respect – a worthy bride for the heir to Abraham’s great, divine blessing.

When it all came together, Eliezer worshipped God for fulfilling His faithfulness to Abraham – the text suggests that the man was filled with marvel, awed by God’s hand in everything and the way that God’s providence had led him directly, through alien country, to Abraham’s ancestral home.

The wonder did not stop there either, for Laban, Rebekah’s brother, was as startled by these developments. He immediately discerned that Eliezer was an emissary of God. There is a strange contradiction here, for Laban acknowledges the Lord, suggesting he was a man of faith, yet we also know from the narratives concerning Jacob, that he kept his own gods.

It is evident from this early encounter that Laban was a shrewd man who loved to work things to his advantage, but Eliezer would have none of that and so insisted on leaving as soon as possible with Isaac’s future bride. The more I study Eliezer, the more I am amazed by his unstinting loyalty to Abraham – he provides us with a superb example of faithful stewardship.

So rings were proffered and Rebekah was betrothed by proxy to her, as yet unseen, husband, much as we are drawn from the world and betrothed to Christ whom we have not yet seen. We will go to Him who first came to earth for us so that together we may continue the great legacy handed down to us by many faithful lives.

(c) Peter Eleazar at
Image: Rebecca by Johannes Takanen, 1877.


Rebekah comes home

Rebekah accepted the proposal of marriage, given by Eliezer. It was a great moment in bible history.

One of the most poignant moments in Genesis (Genesis 24) occurred when Rebekah accepted the marriage proposal of Eliezar, made on behalf of Abraham for the benefit of his son.

I remain of the view that Isaac, possibly as a consequence of being a treasured only child, was not a strong man. This is further born out by the fact that his father took the initiative to find him a wife and that his father also had to set standards around the whole process.

Anyway, Rebekah willingly received a nose-ring and other jewelry from Eliezar and thus took her first tacit step towards betrothal. When Laban and Bethuel saw and heard the whole story, they were willing to let her go. They conceded to God’s hand in it all.

I am still amazed at Eliezar. In accounting for himself to Laban, he confesses that all of Abraham’s wealth had been bequeathed to Isaac. Regardless of the fact that he was once deemed to be Abraham’s most likely heir, the birth of Isaac changed everything and nothing of his master’s estate was reserved for him. Yet Eliezar remained absolutely faithful to Abraham. What’s more, the risk that Rebekah might be restrained from going with him was anticipated by Abraham, in terms of which the oath would have lapsed. But Eliezar never once opted for an easy way out, rather his integrity shone through until he had fulfilled Abraham’s last wish.

Laban and Bethuel wanted to detain Rebekah for ten days, which we later see, in Jacob’s life, to be a ruse for manipulating situations to his own advantage. But Eliezar, though just a servant, was very persuasive, unwavering in his sense of duty. So they asked Rebekah what she wanted to do and when she indicated her willingness to go with Eliezar, Laban released his daughter with her hand-maidens.

The scene then cuts to the plains surround Beer Lahai Roi. The place implies God’s witness over Isaac’s life and it was where he pitched his tent. He was out in the fields one day when he saw a caravan in the distance and recognized the approaching form of Eliezar. Rebekah covered her face in a veil and prepared to meet her husband to be. In a moment of great anticipation she was introduced to Isaac who then removed her veil, a symbolic gesture of acceptance of an untouched, virgin bride.

She was so beautiful and winsome, so gracious and trusting. Yet time would reveal a very strong-minded, decisive woman, whose actions would determine the future of God’s people. Some argue that she retained some of the conniving instincts of her father and became a manipulative, grabbing person. Whatever, she was the product of God’s divine hand and the outcome vindicated God’s choice, for it was thanks to her that Abraham’s blessing never passed to the worthless lout, Esau, Isaac’s preferred son.

This story portrays a greater story of how God sent His own servant, the Holy Spirit, to draw the church from the world, as a bride for His only son. When she responded, her heart was transformed and became as virgin soil, tilled and watered for the seed of life to awaken within her. The life she carried in her heart would ultimately emerge as the heir to God’s blessing, but as she drew near to her king that heart was veiled. The veil implies partial sight, the obsuring of truth through our humanity. But when we finally come before Him, as we read in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, the veil is taken away. Therefore, whilst we still see in part, we shall yet see Him, face to face.

The opening of our eyes and the removal of the veil of our flesh, reminds me of the most prolific hymn-writer of all times, Fanny B Crosby. Though blind, she served God faithfully in the knowledge that “the first time I see, I will be looking at my king”.

(c) Peter Eleazar at

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