The Faith of Abraham (Early) Hebrews 11:8-10

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.”(Hebrews 11:8-10)

Ancient Civilization

To understand the faith of Abraham deeply, we must first look at both the history of mankind and the specific place he was coming from. First we must examine the first gathering of people, the Nomads, a tribe of people who moved around, rather than settling in one place. They moved constantly through the lands in search of food. The women and children would gather the food by digging in the ground for roots, searching for nuts and berries from the bushes and trees, finding eggs in birds’ nests and reaching into beehives for the sweet-tasting honey.

The nomadic men provided the food by hunting. They would use spears or bows and arrows to hunt bison, deer, elk, wild horses, fish, lizards and snakes. Sometimes they would capture the animal by digging a hole in the ground and making a trap, where it could fall in and make an easy target for their arrows. They used animal hides over wooden poles for their shelters, while those in colder rocky places used caves for their homes.

Eventually, the food would run out at their location, and they would have to pick up and move on again. They were accustomed to moving often in search of areas with plentiful food. On one of their journeys in search of food, the Nomads came to a place called the “Fertile Crescent”. It is called this because has rich soil and plentiful water from the rivers running through that area. The Fertile Crescent is located between Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley, known today as part of the lands including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lower Egypt.

Unlike the desert areas they were accustomed to, the Nomads found that plants, trees, thick grass, wild barley and wild wheat grew abundantly in the fertile land. Roots, nuts and berries, as well as herds of wild horses and small deer were everywhere. The most exciting discovery was the huge rivers flowing through the land. The Nomads were used to small pools of water, or tiny streams trickling through the rocks. Water was so scarce to them in the desert, that it was rationed for drinking. When they came to the Fertile Crescent, they were able to bathe for the first time in their lives!

As they explored the land, they met other tribes who had also discovered the rich land. Soon, they learned to put seeds into the ground, and grow their own crops, which allowed them to finally stay in one area and be able to provide and survive for themselves, their families and their tribes.

Some of the first nomads settled right in the middle of the Fertile Crescent in the land of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia means “the land between two rivers.” It got its name because it was located right in the middle of two great rivers which were called the Tigris and the Euphrates. The settled nomads learned that they needed to tend to their planted crops, and keep them watered to ensure their growth. That meant the farmers had to tend to their corps for months at a time, requiring a change in their nomadic lifestyle. They began to build houses that would stay in one place, with materials they could find in the area, like reeds near the river, or hardened mud bricks from the soil.

Soon, they discovered that it was helpful to build their houses closer together, so they could help each other. That is how the first villages began. When the farmers learned that they could tame sheep and goats, they would put a central pen or field right in the middle of their villages. Eventually, the villages became successful at raising sheep and goats, growing grain and making breads and pottery. They began building boats so they could sail along the rivers and visit other villages. Soon, the villages began to trade with each other the items plentiful within their own villages, like sheep’s wool, animal skins, metals, pottery and wood.

When the villages began to grow rich, the inhabitants became fearful that they would be attacked and robbed by bandits. They built big stone walls around their villages, which became the first cities ever built. One of the earliest cities was Jericho. Jericho had one of the strongest, thickest walls in the ancient world, which stood 13 feet tall and 10 feet thick, with a circular tower on one side so lookouts could see their enemies approaching.

The people who settled in the Nile River Valley experienced life differently than those who settled along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Nile River was different, because it was often low, with very little water in it, and then other times it was so full that it flooded over all the farmland. The Nile River flows north from the African deserts to Egypt. The ground is dry and sandy.

Ancient Egyptians built their houses next to the Nile because it was the only water they could find, and that water had to be drawn and scooped with buckets every day. During the summer, the water from the Nile River was plentiful, but as summer turned to fall and winter, the water level would get lower and lower. By the middle of winter, there would be just a low, muddy stream running down the center of the river. The sun would dry the river more, and the ground would become dry and cracked. In the spring, it would start to rain in the distant mountains, far away from Ancient Egypt where rain seldom falls. But hundreds of miles away, rain would began pouring down, running down the mountains and straight into the Nile River. Suddenly, a huge flood of rushing water scooped up mud and rich soil from the bottom of the muddy Nile River Valley and tumbled it down the valley, straight to Egyptian lands. These lands filled the river bed and overflowed the banks on both sides.

Every spring that the Nile River flooded the Egyptians were very happy. The water soaked into the dry ground and prepared it for crops, as it left behind the rich soil from the bottom of the river. They found the flood placed silt grew excellent crops! The Nile River Valley is also part of the Fertile Crescent, but it needed something besides sunlight and water. It depended completely upon the flooding of the Nile. The Nile Delta, where the river splits into many different little rivers and runs into the Mediterranean Sea was particularly fertile as the spring floods brought life to the land.

As we proceed deeper into understanding the Ancient Civilizations that existed before Abraham, it is important to remember the two types of people that lived on the earth at that time. In our earlier lessons in our study we learned that there were two types of people created by the LORD God; those whom were patterned after earth’s evolution, and those who were created in the LORD God’s image with His breath placed inside them.

The Ancient Egyptians were part of the evolution patterned people. They did not understand that the floods were caused by rain in the faraway mountains. They attributed the blessings of the flood to false gods and goddesses, as they made stories up to explain the strange things that happened around them that had no apparent explanation. They mistakenly thought that a whole family of gods ruled the world, and that some were good and some were wicked. Egyptians spent a great deal of time praying to them because the false gods were so unpredictable.

They also believed that these false gods would bring their Pharaohs to an afterlife. The Pharaohs were thought to be gods themselves, who would rise up and join the other gods after death. That is why they built the pyramids, pointed upward to the sky, and filled with all the treasures needed for the afterlife. The pyramids became monuments to honor their gods, and to announce to the world that their gods were stronger than all others.

The Egyptians were not the only ones who had false gods. Mesopotamians also believed in false gods who lived in the sky. The ancient people were polluted with crossed blood of different people in past generations and did not know the LORD God.

The ancient people worshipped the sky and the sun because they thought that the false gods controlled the weather. They built great temples that pointed to the sun. These temples were called Ziggurats, and were made out of mud mixed with choppedĀ­ up hay that were made into bricks and baked into ovens. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids which had smooth sides, the Ziggurats had steps on the sides so the priests could climb up and be closer to the sky false gods. They were used to make offerings to the false gods. The priests would offer loaves of bread, dates, sheep, lambs and cows to the sky false gods every day. Most of the large villages in Mesopotamia had their own Ziggurats for the worship of their individual false gods.

Ancient Egypt used to be divided into two parts, the Upper Egypt and the Lower Egypt. The two parts fought often with each other, until King Narmer conquered Lower Egypt and made Egypt into one country. When Narmer became king of a united Egypt, he wore two crowns together, colored red and white, to represent both the Upper and Lower Egypt combined. Under his rule, Egypt became rich and strong; focus was placed on farming and building instead of fighting wars.

The same division was happening in Mesopotamia between the Sumerians of the southern part of Mesopotamia. The villages of farmers became cities with walls and towers around them. Each city had its own king and its own army, and the city-states fought amongst themselves constantly. All of their energy was put into protecting themselves from their neighbors.

A man named Sargon wanted to be King of more than one city; he wanted to be king of the whole land of Mesopotamia. He ordered his army to attack the cities around them, and after 50 wars, conquered all of Sumer, the southern part of Mesopotamia. Just as King Narmer had united Egypt into one country, Sargon made Mesopotamia into one country under his rule. The cities that he had conquered were not happy about following his laws and rules, and he used his army to force them to comply with his wishes.
Soldiers were sent to live in each conquered city, and if the people disobeyed their laws, they were punished m the military dictatorship.

There was a town called Ur in ancient Mesopotamia. In Ur, there was a Ziggurat built by the ancient Mesopotamians to honor their false God. And that’s where we come to the place that is so important to all faithful Christians, law-abiding Jews, and servant Muslims. The one True LORD GOD JEHOVAH spoke to Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) and his wife Sarai (whose name was later changed to Sarah)! The LORD GOD JEHOVAH told Abraham to leave Ur and go to the land of Canaan (now known as the Promised Land of Israel). From that moment on, those chosen to know the LORD God were given the knowledge of His things that He willed in His time and way, so His works could be accomplished perfectly and established as the history of the men of nature and the history of the Men of God unfolded!

“Now these [are] the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife [was] Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she [had] no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with themfrom Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.”

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
“So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” (Genesis11:27-12:6)

And that brings us to the faith of early Abraham, who left everything he knew in life including his father and mother and siblings, his neighbors and friends, and the city he had grown up in, and he set out for a land unknown to him. The LORD God had told him to leave Ur and walk to the Promised Land of Canaan, and he set out with his wife for that destination because God told him to do it! It is that faith that Hebrews 11:8-10 recounts, and one that we will explore more deeply in the next lessons.