"If I shut up the heavens and there is no rain; if I command the locusts to ravage the land; or if I let loose pestilence against My people, when My people, who bear My name, humble themselves, pray, and seek My favor and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear in My heavenly abode and forgive their sins and heal their land." II Chronicles 7:13-14
by Ken Graydon
The faith of Abraham is not simply a collection of beliefs--it is also a lifestyle. This article will discuss much of the lifestyle requirements for those of us who wish to live in Abraham's camp by the Abrahamic Hebrew faith.
It is not about receiving gift-wrapped packages of blessings-it is about possibilities! There is work to be done. ETERNAL will give you water but you have to dig the well. ETERNAL will give you the land but you have to fight for it. Thus, this article will not give you the answers. It will help you to find the questions. Your prayers, your study, your relationship with ETERNAL will bring you, your answers.
"Living in Abraham's camp" is an expression I have coined to try to describe a lifestyle that is new to many of us. We have come out of something--some form of organization or association--and if we are not very aware we will make the mistake of trying to impose the styles or systems of the past in this new life--and it does not fit.
If we look at the life of Abraham we may draw from it some pointers that you may like to study or seek answers about. 1
Genesis 12:1-4 2 "ETERNAL said to Abraham, 'Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.' So Abraham went as ETERNAL had spoken to him, and Lot went with him." This is a series of wonderful promises that will/did 3 come to pass because Abraham later proved totally obedient. However, in the beginning Abraham is disobedient. He had been told to leave his relatives, but he takes along Lot. This caused trouble then as we shall see, and it is still causing trouble now because Lot's descendants, the Moabites and Ammonites, are part of the peoples who oppose the land called Israel today.
The people who were in Abraham's travelling party were aware of the promises. They would have been anxious to bless Abraham by their work and their attitude. They all knew they would participate in the blessing from ETERNAL. This is a pointer for us, as a group (no matter how scattered) we inherit these promises. We are blessed and ETERNAL opening our mind to find this truth proves that. People who bless us will find that they are blessed. This has certainly been true in the company I work for, where the directors, who are not called spiritually so far, keep saying, "It's a miracle the way things work out." It is too.
Abraham built altars and called on ETERNAL by name as he traveled South across the land.
Gen 12:10 There was a famine in the land, and Abraham descended to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.
The land, which Abraham had been promised and which he had traveled a long way to find, was in the midst of a famine. This did not make any less of a promised land because ETERNAL was bringing about a plan to bless Abraham with very great wealth. Sarah, Abraham's wife, was also his half-sister. She is in her seventies now and still absolutely gorgeous because Pharaoh wanted her. (Later, when she is in her nineties Abimalech wanted her for the same reason.). ETERNAL intervenes and Pharaoh pays Abraham in many goods and possessions.
There are times when challenges face us--no matter how obedient we think we have been. You need to press on, because that is often the way ETERNAL chooses to pour blessings into your life. He often uses the most unlikely people to do this.
Trouble develops between Lot's people and Abraham's. The land cannot support all these flocks and the locals are not happy.
Gen 13:8-12 "So Abraham said to Lot: 'Please let there be no strife between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not all the land before you? Please separate from me: If you go left then I will go right and if you go right then I will go left.' So Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan that it was well watered everywhere--before ETERNAL destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah--like the garden of ETERNAL, like the land of Egypt, going toward Zoar. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed from the East; thus they parted, one from his brother. Abraham dwelled in the land of Canaan while Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain and pitched tents as far as Sodom." You see Abraham's attitude. He was the one called to the land but he allowed Lot to choose what appeared to be the best land. Now the contrasts appear, Lot takes the watered land--he wants the easier life and he wants the city life in Sodom. These are not wise choices. On the other hand Abraham takes the open plains of Canaan. The very next thing that happens is really great, because of what it teaches us:
Gen 13:14-17 "ETERNAL said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him. 'Raise now your eyes and look out from where you are: northward, southward, eastward, and westward. For all the land that you see, to you will I give it, and to your descendants forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring, too, can be counted. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth! For to you will I give it.'" Lot had to leave so Abraham could be blessed. ETERNAL is concerned about our associates. You cannot hold onto the past associations or to people whose life choices are not ETERNAL's choices for you. Then ETERNAL wants to give Abraham the land but first Abraham has to see it and then he was to walk over it-to claim it.
These are deep and meaningful lessons. When ETERNAL speaks into your life-do you 'see' it? Do you catch the vision-the possibilities? Then will you walk over it and around it? Will you claim it? Will you now live as if you already have it? Will you thank ETERNAL for it even before you receive it?
How do you think Abraham felt about the dust? ETERNAL has given him this picture in his mind eye about the number of descendants he will have. We now call this 'creative visualization'--ETERNAL calls this talking to his friend Abraham.
Abraham had been preparing for such a time as this. That is why his disciples/servants were trained, equipped, and motivated to act immediately. These people lived in the confidence that they were chosen. Not that they were better than anyone else, but that they had accepted more responsibility. They did not simply pray that ETERNAL would 'look after' Lot, although prayer was in their program, they knew they had to act decisively. We need to be ready to act to support, defend or rescue our extended family in "Abraham's Camp."
Gen 14:18-20 "But Malchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of CREATOR, the Most High. He blessed him saying: 'Blessed is Abraham of CREATOR, the Most High, Maker of heaven and earth. Blessed be CREATOR, the Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand'; and he gave him a tenth of everything." This is a foundational teaching on tithing a tenth of your increase. Malchizedek, who probally was Shem, passes on the blessings of ETERNAL and also gives thanks to ETERNAL for this successful outcome.
The king of Sodom then tried to get the people for himself and to let Abraham keep all the possessions.
Gen 14:22-24 "Abraham said to the king of Sodom: 'I lift up my hand to ETERNAL, the Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, if so much as a thread to a shoestrap; or if I shall take anything of yours! So you shall not say, 'It is I who made Abraham rich.' Far from me! Only what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who accompanied me: Aner, Eshcol and Mamre--they will take their portion.'" Abraham wants no dealing with the Sodomite king. He will not allow any opportunity for him to be able to claim that he helped make Abraham rich--that is his loyalty to ETERNAL. The expression 'Far from me!' is an emphatic 'Get outta here!' Abraham will only take the food the young men used during the expedition and will allow his allies to take their share, which was customary.
Read all of Genesis chapter 15, about the establishment of the Covenant. 4 ETERNAL took time out from being the SOVEREIGN of the Universe, to establish this Covenant--which is still in place. ETERNAL does this for us now, taking time out to bless us and apply all the promises of the Tanach to our lives.
Abraham and Sarah decide they will help ETERNAL out with the problem of getting a child. (I do not imagine I am the only other one who has falsely reasoned "If I just do 'thus and so' then, ETERNAL will be able to 'do this and that'"). They take Hagar, Sarah's servant, as another wife for Abraham and she becomes pregnant. As you may expect, this causes some trouble around the tent. Hagar runs away but is sent back by an angel and gives birth to Ishmael. The Tanach is not against multiple marriage, particularly in the matter of preserving the family line, but counsels against having to many wives.
Fourteen years later ETERNAL speaks to Abraham to remind him of the Covenant and to expand on it. This makes it clear that both the benefits and the obligations apply to us now as they did to Abraham then.
Gen 17:7-11 "'I will ratify My Covenant between Me and you and between your offspring after you, throughout their generations, as an everlasting Covenant, to be the SOVEREIGN to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourns--the whole of the land of Canaan--as an everlasting possession; and I shall be the SOVEREIGN to them.' ETERNAL said to Abraham, 'And as for you, you shall keep My Covenant--you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is My Covenant, which you shall keep between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the Covenant between Me and you.'" This is very specific and non-negotiable. Verse 14 goes on to say "an uncircumcised man has invalidated the Covenant" and should be cut off from the people.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised himself and all the males in his camp. It was after this obedience that ETERNAL announced that Sarah--who was in her nineties--would bear a child. Do you see the pattern here? Obedience to the will of the ETERNAL allows Him to bless you with the things He wants you to have.
Although the Covenant that The Mighty One established with Abraham is to be continued through the, as yet, unborn Isaac; ETERNAL says He will bless Ishmael because Abraham asked Him to. When you become a friend of our SOVEREIGN, He wants to bless you-and through you, others.
Now the promise that Abraham and Sarah will have a son is repeated. Sarah laughs at the idea but is quickly silenced with the question "Is anything beyond ETERNAL?" (This is a question that confronts us all!) We then come to the key verses of this whole story:
Gen 18:17-19 "And ETERNAL said, 'Shall I conceal from Abraham what I do, now that Abraham is surely to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him? For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of ETERNAL, doing charity and justice, in order that ETERNAL might then bring upon Abraham that which He had spoken of him.'" ETERNAL honours Abraham with His confidence because Abraham lives, and teaches his household to live, by ETERNAL's ways of doing things. They practice charity and justice and ETERNAL loves them for it. These characteristics plus the blessings of ETERNAL will cause them to be blessed, so much, that other nations will want to adopt their lifestyle so that, they too, may be blessed.
The two angels arrive in Sodom and find Lot sitting at the gate of the town. Lot offers them hospitality and then tries to persuade the Sodomites to leave them alone--even offering his daughters to the crowd rather than his guests.
Lot is a contradictory character. He has chosen the Sodomite lifestyle but acts bravely to defend the travelers, who are actually angels. But, when the angels urge him and his family to leave for their own safety they do not want to go. Finally, they agree to leave--but not for the open plains and the natural life. They do not want to give up everything--they just want to go to a smaller town. Lot's wife so misses the city life she looks back regretfully--and dies.
The people of today who are 'in Abraham's camp' are often asked by ETERNAL to give up something. A job, a lifestyle, a habit, a hobby, a personality trait, anything. We cannot 'do a Lot' and just give up part of something--it has to be total. ETERNAL never asks you to forego something good out of nastiness. He wants the best for you. Better things, a better life than you would choose for yourself, a better future than your deeds deserve. Abraham made sacrifices and was blessed.
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah--Lot, who is now a widower is hiding in the mountains out of fear. He has lost everything except two daughters. Abraham is the one standing on the mountain looking at this distant destruction saying, "I am glad I didn't choose the city life!" This life is about choices. Four hundred and forty years later Joshua would put it well to Israel "Choose this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). These choices confront you every day-serve ETERNAL and His ways or serve something else and pay the price!
If you have read this far--you may be sure ETERNAL is calling you to be in Abraham's camp. The response must be yours and it must be voluntary. Those of us who have put in some service time will have heard the expressions "If you volunteer you obviously did not understand the question!" I want you to be sure you really do understand the question being asked of you now. Will you serve ETERNAL? Will your lifestyle, public and private, lead other people to see your blessings so that they want what you have?
Some people will be called to a lifestyle in community, some will join large groups who have these truths, some will be the Lone Rangers of ETERNAL. There are as many right ways as there are people being called by The Mighty One.
Please read the entire story of Abraham in Genesis, study it, and pray about it. This article was to raise some questions. ETERNAL provides the answers. You are welcome to contact us.
2. All Scripture quoted if from the Artscroll/Stone Edition Tanach 1996, unless noted.
3. See our article "The Promises to Abraham, Judah's Scepter and Joseph's Birthright."
4. The custom of the time was to walk between the halves of a sacrifice animal, to make an unbreakable covenant. This was called 'cutting a covenant.' This is where we get our saying today of 'cutting a deal,' because a 'deal' and a 'covenant' are 'a binding agreement, a compact.'
5. The Tanach says in Ex 23:19 "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." However, a few verses before (Ex 22:30) states that a young kid must be allowed to nurse seven full days before it can be sacrificed. This shows that killing a kid it "while it is in its mother's milk" means do not kill it while it is still nursing. To do so would be hurtful to the mother. Therefore, our SOVEREIGN states it is fine to have dairy products and meat at the same meal.
6. My Stone's Tanach says Gen 20:18 that ETERNAL had restrained every orifice in the household of Abimelech--yours may say womb. The Hebrew word is womb, but used not in a specific medical descriptive sense but in the sense of sexual organs. In any case they were being punished and they knew about it immediately