A black and white image capturing a solitary figure standing on a mountaintop, their outstretched arms reaching towards the heavens, symbolizing Abraham's divine call and his unwavering faith.

What God Called Abraham To Do: A Detailed Look At God’S Instructions For The Father Of Many Nations

For thousands of years, the story of Abraham has captivated people of faith. Known as the father of many nations, Abraham was a seminal figure in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. But what exactly did God call this patriarch to do?

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the biblical account of God’s calling of Abraham in depth.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: God called Abraham to leave his homeland and family and travel to an unknown land that God would show him. God promised to bless Abraham, make him a great nation, and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him.

Abraham trusted and obeyed God, and his story of faith has inspired generations.

In the sections below, we’ll look closely at the key events and instructions given in Abraham’s calling, the context surrounding these pivotal moments, and the significance of Abraham’s obedient response. We’ll examine relevant biblical passages, historical insights, and Abraham’s lasting legacy.

Whether you’re looking for a high-level overview or an in-depth study, this article will provide a thorough look at this formative event in Judeo-Christian history.

God’s Initial Call and Abraham’s Faithful Response

The Call to Leave Home and Family

God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 is monumental. God instructs Abraham to leave behind everything familiar – his country, his relatives, his father’s household – and go to the land that God would show him.

God was uprooting Abraham from stability and comfort and calling him to a life of pilgrimage and trust. This took incredible faith on Abraham’s part. But Abraham obeyed, demonstrating remarkable trust in God’s guidance and provision.

God’s Covenant Promises to Abraham

In Genesis 12:2-3, God makes covenant promises to Abraham for his obedience. These include:

  • God will make Abraham a great nation
  • God will bless Abraham
  • God will make Abraham’s name great
  • Abraham will be a blessing to others

God will accomplish these things through Abraham’s descendants. The covenant points to the formation of the people of Israel and the messianic blessing that will come through Abraham for all nations (Galatians 3:8). This covenant reveals God’s global redemptive plan.

Abraham’s Obedience and Trust

Abraham responded in faith and obedience to God’s call. Genesis 12:4-5 describes how Abraham departed for the land of Canaan, not knowing specifics about where God was taking him. This demonstrates Abraham’s remarkable trust in God’s guidance, provision, and protection.

Hebrews 11:8-10 commends Abraham for his faith to obey “even though he did not know where he was going.” Abraham looked forward to “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” His obedience set the course for God’s fulfilling His covenant promises.

Further Revelations and Tests of Abraham’s Faith

The Promise of Innumerable Offspring

God made a covenant with Abraham, promising that he would become the father of many nations and that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:4-8). This was an incredible promise, as Abraham and his wife Sarah were already very old and childless.

Yet Abraham trusted in God’s promise.

God told Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, impossible to count (Genesis 22:17). This demonstrates the magnitude of God’s promise to Abraham.

According to GotQuestions.org, Abraham did ultimately have eight sons, but the promise extends far beyond his literal descendants to all those who share his faith.

Waiting for the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

Despite God’s promise, several more years passed without Sarah becoming pregnant. Abraham and Sarah even tried to fulfill the promise themselves, with Sarah offering her servant Hagar to Abraham in order to bear a child, leading to the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16).

But this was not the complete fulfillment of God’s promise.

Abraham had to persist in faith, waiting on God’s timing for the promise to be fulfilled. When Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90, she finally conceived and bore Isaac, the child of the promise (Genesis 21:1-7). The long wait tested Abraham’s faith, but he trusted that God would keep His word.

God’s Covenant Confirmed Through Circumcision

When Isaac was born, God established the ritual of circumcision as a sign of His everlasting covenant with Abraham and his offspring (Genesis 17:9-14). All males were to be circumcised at eight days old.

This painful ritual would be a continual reminder of God’s promise to Abraham to make his descendants a great nation.

Circumcision set Abraham’s descendants apart, marking them as heirs to the covenant. The Bible Study Tools Encyclopedia notes that to this day, circumcision remains an integral practice in both the Jewish and Islamic faiths, reflecting its deep biblical roots.

The Supreme Test: The Sacrifice of Isaac

After the fulfillment of God’s promise in Isaac’s birth, Abraham faced the ultimate test of faith – God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son he had waited so long for, as an offering (Genesis 22).

While child sacrifice was common among pagan religions, God’s command defied everything Abraham believed.

Yet Abraham obeyed God without hesitation, trusting that God could raise Isaac from dead if needed (Hebrews 11:17-19). He brought Isaac to Mount Moriah fully prepared to sacrifice him, though God stopped him at the last moment, sparing Isaac’s life (Genesis 22:9-12).

Abraham passed this difficult test, proving his faith and obedience to God.

The Significance and Legacy of Abraham’s Calling

Abraham as a Model of Faith

Abraham is held up as the exemplar of faith in the Bible. When God called him to leave his homeland and journey to an unknown place, Abraham obeyed even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8).

Abraham’s willingness to follow God’s call purely on faith serves as an inspirational model for believers today. His story illustrates that we can trust God even when we do not understand His plans.

Moreover, Abraham believed God’s promise that he would become the father of many nations, even though it seemed impossible since he and Sarah were already advanced in age and had no children (Romans 4:18-21).

Abraham’s faith in God’s promise demonstrates that we should cling to God’s word rather than doubt it or rely on human understanding. As Hebrews 11:11 says, “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father”.

The Fulfillment of God’s Covenant in Jesus Christ

A key aspect of Abraham’s calling was God’s covenant with him, where God promised that through Abraham’s offspring all nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3, 22:18). This covenant pointed forward to the coming of Jesus Christ as the ultimate fulfillment.

The New Testament makes clear that Jesus was the offspring through whom God intended to bless the world (Galatians 3:16).

Jesus came as the Messiah for both Jews and Gentiles, providing salvation for all who believe in Him. As Acts 3:25-26 states, “You are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’

When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” The Abrahamic covenant found its completion in Christ.

Abraham’s Lasting Impact on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

As the first patriarch in the Bible, Abraham significantly shaped the major monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

  • In Judaism, Abraham is the founding father of the Jewish people. God’s covenant with him lies at the heart of Jewish identity today.
  • In Christianity, Abraham is a key figure and an example of righteousness by faith. Christians see themselves as part of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
  • In Islam, Abraham (called Ibrahim) is considered a messenger of God and an inspiration of obedience to Allah. Muslims recite Abraham’s name in all their prayers.

Additionally, Abraham’s migration from Ur to Canaan is considered the start of the Jewish Diaspora. His life established monotheistic belief in the God of Israel. The land of Israel is often referred to as the “Promised Land” that God designated for Abraham’s descendants.

The obedience and sacrifice of God’s “friend” (Isaiah 41:8) left an indelible legacy for multiple world religions.


For thousands of years, Abraham’s story of faith and obedience has inspired billions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims around the world. While the calling of this lone man in the ancient Middle East may seem insignificant at first glance, it set in motion God’s covenant plan to bless all the families on earth.

As we’ve seen, Abraham’s response to God’s call – leaving his home, trusting God’s promises, and being willing to sacrifice his only son – established Abraham as the supreme model of faith. This remarkable account still challenges people today to examine the sincerity of their faith and obedience to God’s voice.

Through his calling of Abraham, God demonstrated His faithful love across generations. The apostle Paul proclaimed that God’s promise to Abraham was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the long-awaited descendant of Abraham who brought salvation to all who put faith in Him.

The story of Abraham is a testament to God’s power and an invitation to live a life of radical faith and obedience before God.

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