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Abraham is an Old Testament prophet, and the common ancestor of both the house of Israel as well as Ishmaelites.
The Story of AbrahamGenesis we learn that he was the Son of Terah, born in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11: 26-28). This was about 2000 years before Christ. Abraham, first called Abram, was called of God to leave his native country and go to a promised land which would be shown to him. With his family, including his nephew Lot, and his wife Sarai, he undertook this long journey, through Haran, Canaan, Bethel and Egypt, and finally Hebron (Genesis 13: 18). Despite his nomadic life, he became very wealthy. He and Sarai were given an important promise, that they would have children to inherit their wealth and their divine blessings which had been bestowed by God.
More blessings and promises were given to Abram when God changed his name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah. The sign of that promise, or covenant, was instituted in the practice of circumcision. Yet still Abraham and Sarah remained childless, despite the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars. Finally, when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife 90, their son Isaac was born. Because of their long wait for this promised son, the subsequent demand by God that Isaac be sacrificed was the ultimate test of Abraham’s faithfulness. Abraham did pass the test, and a providentially provided ram caught in the thicket was substituted for Isaac at the last moment (Genesis 22).
Scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price has provided additional light on this story of faith. From these sources we learn that Abraham himself was almost offered as a human sacrifice, making the story of Abraham and Isaac even more poignant:
- And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun.
- And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands;
- And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee away from thy father’s house, and from all thy kinsfolk, into a strange land which thou knowest not of.
We learn that Abraham was a seeker who was drawn to the knowledge, power, and righteousness of his forefathers, yearning for the priesthood they possessed:
- And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
- It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
- I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
We learn of his ordination to the priesthood by Melchizedek, the great high priest, to whom he also paid tithes:
- Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah.
The book of Abraham details some of the revelations Abraham was given about the stars and the planets, about the creation of the earth. Abraham was able to impart some of this knowledge to the Egyptians, when he sojourned there. ("Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words" Abraham 3:15).
- And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
- And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
- And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
The Lord taught Abraham about the pre-mortal life and creation.
- Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
- And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
As he contemplated the planetary system, he must have thought about his numerous descendants yet to be born. The promises of God concerning his family were far-reaching and significant. They included the promise that his posterity would be numerous (Genesis 17:5-6; Abraham 2:9, 3:14), that these people would receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and bear the priesthood of God (Abraham 2:9). Furthermore, through these descendants of Abraham, all the people of the earth would be blessed “with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).
Just as the New Testament prophets have pointed out (Matthew 3: 9; Romans 9: 7), the greatest blessings of Abraham, through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, and continuing to this very day, as each new believer takes that same covenant upon him or her (3 Nephi 20:25-27), comes through Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Being a descendant of Abraham is not enough in itself. The Abrahamic covenant is inherited by each of us as we follow the author of that covenant. Because of His great love for each person on this earth, Jesus presses His followers into service to others, in spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that all may be saved through His great and last sacrifice, His resurrection and Atonement in our behalf.