The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 12: Abraham in Canaan
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With deep reverence and humility he urged his plea: "I have
taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and
ashes." There was no self-confidence, no boasting of his own
righteousness. He did not claim favor on the ground of his obedience,
or of the sacrifices he had made in doing God's will. Himself
a sinner, he pleaded in the sinner's behalf. Such a spirit all
who approach God should possess. Yet Abraham manifested the
confidence of a child pleading with a loved father. He came
close to the heavenly Messenger, and fervently urged his petition.
Though Lot had become a dweller in Sodom, he did not partake
in the iniquity of its inhabitants. Abraham thought that in that
populous city there must be other worshipers of the true God. [p. 140] And in view of this he pleaded, "That be far from Thee, to do
after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: . . .
that be far from Thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do
right?" Abraham asked not once merely, but many times. Waxing
bolder as his requests were granted, he continued until he
gained the assurance that if even ten righteous persons could be
found in it, the city would be spared.
Love for perishing souls inspired Abraham's prayer. While
he loathed the sins of that corrupt city, he desired that the sinners
might be saved. His deep interest for Sodom shows the anxiety
that we should feel for the impenitent. We should cherish hatred
of sin, but pity and love for the sinner. All around us are souls
going down to ruin as hopeless, as terrible, as that which befell
Sodom. Every day the probation of some is closing. Every hour
some are passing beyond the reach of mercy. And where are the
voices of warning and entreaty to bid the sinner flee from this
fearful doom? Where are the hands stretched out to draw him
back from death? Where are those who with humility and
persevering faith are pleading with God for him?
The spirit of Abraham was the spirit of Christ. The Son of
God is Himself the great Intercessor in the sinner's behalf. He
who has paid the price for its redemption knows the worth of the
human soul. With an antagonism to evil such as can exist only
in a nature spotlessly pure, Christ manifested toward the sinner a
love which infinite goodness alone could conceive. In the agonies
of the crucifixion, Himself burdened with the awful weight of
the sins of the whole world, He prayed for His revilers and
murderers, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they
do." Luke 23:34.
Of Abraham it is written that "he was called the friend of
God," "the father of all them that believe." James 2:23; Romans
4:11. The testimony of God concerning this faithful patriarch is,
"Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments,
My statutes, and My laws." And again, "I know him, that
he will command his children and his household after him, and
they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment;
that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath
spoken of him." It was a high honor to which Abraham was
called, that of being the father of the people who for centuries
were the guardians and preservers of the truth of God for the [p. 141] world—of that people through whom all the nations of the earth
should be blessed in the advent of the promised Messiah. But
He who called the patriarch judged him worthy. It is God that
speaks. He who understands the thoughts afar off, and places the
right estimate upon men, says, "I know him." There would be
on the part of Abraham no betraying of the truth for selfish
purposes. He would keep the law and deal justly and righteously.
And he would not only fear the Lord himself, but would cultivate
religion in his home. He would instruct his family in righteousness.
The law of God would be the rule in his household.
Abraham's household comprised more than a thousand souls.
Those who were led by his teachings to worship the one God,
found a home in his encampment; and here, as in a school, they
received such instruction as would prepare them to be representatives
of the true faith. Thus a great responsibility rested upon him.
He was training heads of families, and his methods of government
would be carried out in the households over which they
In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own
family, and he exercised authority over his children, even after
they had families of their own. His descendants were taught to
look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters.
This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored
to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of
God. It was necessary to bind the members of the household
together, in order to build up a barrier against the idolatry that
had become so widespread and so deep-seated. Abraham sought
by every means in his power to guard the inmates of his encampment
against mingling with the heathen and witnessing their
idolatrous practices, for he knew that familiarity with evil would
insensibly corrupt the principles. The greatest care was exercised
to shut out every form of false religion and to impress the mind
with the majesty and glory of the living God as the true object
It was a wise arrangement, which God Himself had made, to
cut off His people, so far as possible, from connection with the
heathen, making them a people dwelling alone, and not reckoned
among the nations. He had separated Abraham from his idolatrous
kindred, that the patriarch might train and educate his
family apart from the seductive influences which would have surrounded [p. 142] them in Mesopotamia, and that the true faith might be
preserved in its purity by his descendants from generation to
Abraham's affection for his children and his household led
him to guard their religious faith, to impart to them a knowledge
of the divine statutes, as the most precious legacy he could
transmit to them, and through them to the world. All were taught
that they were under the rule of the God of heaven. There was
to be no oppression on the part of parents and no disobedience
on the part of children. God's law had appointed to each his
duties, and only in obedience to it could any secure happiness or
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