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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: First (as in original) (01/10/05)

TITLE: Three At First
By L.M. Lee


Abbott and Costello may have joked around about “who’s on first, what’s on second and I don’t know is on third,” but when it comes to whose religion came first, the dialogues can sometimes be just as entertaining, if they weren’t so frustrating!

I just finished reading “Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths” by Bruce Feiler. What began as a casual read soon blossomed into a full analysis of monotheisms.

As the average Christian, my “street” knowledge of Abraham has been restricted to the scriptures, Christian theologians and an occasional Jewish Midrash. Mr. Feiler surprised me by revealing there are over 567 speculations about the Father of the Faithful among the three major religions who claim him. And until Mr. Feiler’s book, I never realized Abraham was at the seat of so much controversy.

The controversy over who claims him “first” is at the center of all monotheistic angst. Whereas Jehovah, Allah, Mohammad, Moses and Jesus separate the three faiths, Abraham links them. For it is in Abraham, the common thread of the “faith” is woven.

Abraham is the “first” Hebrew. He is the “first” to officially forsake everything for a reckless abandonment to chase after the one true God. He is the “first” Father of the Faithful. He is the “first” to produce offspring whose divine claim secures a God-given “land deal.” It is safe to say, that apart from Jesus, no other human has so altered the course of nations.

Israel is infinitely linked to Abraham. God’s promise to his seed, Isaac, is their birthright to the land and the promised Messiah. Christianity’s recognition of Abraham’s seed Jesus as Messiah is foundational. Islam’s determination to the land, through Abraham’s rejected heir Ishmael is explosive.

Although God appeared to Abraham and initiated a covenant with him, did you know that Hagar was the “first” woman God covenanted with? I had completely overlooked the implications of Hagar’s encounter with El Roi, the God who sees, until this book. But there it is, in Genesis 16:10-14, God gives Hagar, a woman, a promise of “offspring too numerous to count.” I wonder how patriarchal Moslems feel about their religion’s “matriarchal” root?

Nevertheless passages in the Koran and Torah are certainly worth noting. In the Christian tradition, it has always been understood that Isaac was the son Abraham offered to God on Mount Moriah. However some Jews teach Abraham actually sacrificed Isaac. Islamic tradition believes it was Ishmael that was sacrificially offered. Both believe God raised the child from the dead…three days later…note any parallels?

In fact, the more I read, the more I was amazed at the “blending” of stories and new interpretations. Not only had Mohammad altered the facts to fit his developing new religion, Jewish writers also “enhanced” certain particulars.

Both faiths site an interesting tale of young Abraham. As a boy, loitering in his father Terah’s idol shop, an idol accidentally falls over. Terah props the idol back up. Abraham challenges him on the divinity of a, “I’m fallen and can’t get up” idol. The idol falls again, decapitating. Again young Abraham questions his father on the strength of a god who loses his head. Terah fashions a new head and goes on about his business. Abraham has an epiphany and realizes there is one God, not made by human hands. At that moment, God entrusts the revelation of Himself to one man – Abraham.

Do you see any similarities between this story and the Philistine’s god Dagon’s encounter with the Ark of the Covenant? {1 Samuel 5:1-5} Or is it just me?

Mr. Feiler’s conclusion was that we can have world peace, when all three sects embrace their Abrahamic root. He feels it is “faith” that is the key to unity, not the intolerant divisiveness of the Mosaic Law, Jesus’ divinity and Jihad.

It occurred to me as I thought about Mr. Feiler’s suggestions both Jews and Islam have elevated Abraham’s status to “god” and “enlightened” ecumenicals easily deny Jesus’ divinity. They all willingly give Abraham greater recognition.

Jesus said, "I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.” {John 8:58} His proclamation always offends and divides. He is the original "FIRST." And some may aspire for world peace through Abraham; but apart from Christ, “it ain’t happenin’!”

But what if the “Beast” does blend all three Abraham sects and brings world peace...hum...it would be a "first!"

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This article has been read 1589 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/17/05
This is a great read! I enjoyed the teaching and even learned a few things. Actually,quite a few things!
Kathy Cartee01/17/05
Great article with much insight into the connection of Abraham to the faith of many.

Leaves us with something to think about.
Sally Hanan01/17/05
Very thought-provoking and well-written. Nice job.
Tesiri Moweta01/18/05
Wow! This is a masterpiece! Well written! Very informative and very truthful. Jesus is truly the first and the beast won't bring the three sects together...
Thanks for blessing me, Keep winning and shining for Jesus.
Melanie Kerr 01/18/05
An excellent piece of work. You have created a thirst, but also provoked us to dig a little deeper into history. I like people who poke around and ferret out information like this.
DeAnna Brooks01/18/05
Fascinating read. Though familiar with this information, you set it forth in such simple dynamic fashion I couldn't stop. What will they each do, if Abraham returns as one of the two witnesses to Jesus? No wonder Satan wanted his body. Thanks so much for sharing this captivating, thought-provoking piece.
Debbie OConnor01/18/05
Very interesting and well written. I recently came into contact with some of this line of thinking when I listened to the president of Fuller Theological Seminary address some journalists on the web. My motive for listening was that a good Christian friend of mine's husband wrote a book about religious "fundamentalism" in the White House. Very different viewpoints from mine. I love your conclusion. Before Abraham was, I am! - Jesus. Thanks for sharing this. I got a lot out of the reading.
Annette Agnello01/19/05
There is an obversation that if someone says, "I believe" you may need to clarify just what they do believe. Well done.
Deborah Anderson01/22/05
This was a good read, loaded with interesting information. God bless you.
adelina tomino01/23/05
this piece made me think of many things, been studying the life of Abraham some years ago, more blessings
Jasti Victor01/23/05
Very well written, informative and i thought i know all about Abraham. God bless
Site Editor 01/24/05
Deborah Porter 01/24/05
Ahhh Lisa! I should have picked this was you! Who else would have started with an Abbott and Costello routine? Lissa, I am absolutely delighted to see you win 1st place in the Level 3 Champion Challenge AND 2nd place in the Editor's Choice. Well done lovely lady! With love, Deb (Challenge Co-ordinator)