Near the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in ancient Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq), one can find the ruins of Ur. In this city, more than 3800 years ago, there lived in a semi-nomadic population a man named Abram. He was the patriarch of a clan and married to Sarai. Both were advanced in age. They lived their lives like everyone else, until one day when Abram heard a voice. God asked him to leave his country, promising him a new land, to ennoble his name and to bless him.
Abram, Sarai, and their clan abandoned their land, taking with them only what they could carry. In time they reached Canaan (today known as Israel and the Palestinian territories). However, they were sad because they did not have their own children and, in those times, it was considered a curse or a punishment from the gods. In response to their prayers, God promised them a child. But Sarai was unable to become pregnant so, in the traditions of the time, she offered her servant Agar to her husband, so he could bear a child with her. Ishmael was born from the union between Abram and Agar.
Years later God established a new covenant with Abram and his descendants. God made Abram fruitful, so that from him the towns and the kings would be born, the land of Canaan would be Abram for all of time and, no matter how impossible it may seem, Sarai would give birth. Abram, in return, would recognize God as the only God. As a sign of this covenant, they were to circumcise all the males and from now on Abram and Sarai would be known as Abraham and Sarah.
After some time, Sarah gave birth to her son as promised, they named him Isaac. The birth of this child brought jealousy between Agar and Sarah, and Sarah was able to expel Agar and her son from the clan. But the happiness from his new son was short lived, because God had asked him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham knew that this meant the end of his family. Nevertheless, faithful with his convenant, Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him. Once at the place of sacrifice, Abraham took the knife, but suddenly one of God’s angels stopped his hand. Abraham had demonstrated his fidelity to the Lord, even after God had asked for such a great sacrifice. This also marks the difference between polytheistic religions of the old days and the monotheistic religion of Judaism which started at that very moment. God does not demand human sacrifices, like it is believed of other gods, but simply the willingness to listen and obey God in everything.
Years passed and Sarah and Abraham died. Their son Isaac had married Rebecca. This is how they continued with the lineage of the family and inherited God’s promises.
What aspects of Abraham and Sarah do you like and which do you not? What are some of the things that we can learn from this story? Would you like to be like Abraham and Sarah? Why or why not?