By: Margaret Brown
IN GENESIS, the first book of the Old Testament, Abram laments that being childless his slave, Eliezer, will be sole heir to his house. He reproaches God that he has no offspring and, although he is an old man and his wife Sarai is barren, he is assured by God that his descendants shall be as many as the stars in the sky. Being a righteous man, Abram believed.
But, like people he was sinful and had a son, Ishmael, by his wife’s slave girl.
After some years of silence, the Lord spoke again to confirm his covenant and to rename the patriarch and his wife Abraham and Sarah. Isaac, their second son, fathered a dynasty from which came many Israelite kings and Prophets and ultimately Christ Jesus, in whose name we are keeping the 40 days of Lent.
Ishmael must have been part of God’s plan, because he prospered and became father to 12 rulers and a great Arabic nation, many of whose descendants are still rooted in the land of their fathers.
Thus powerful religions emerged – many wars were fought and peaceful co-existence is as far away as ever. Abraham, who was the rootstock that produced Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths, put his trust in God and was rewarded.
The basic moral laws of these religions are essential to our civilisation. Under attack by fundamentalists with agendas that seem anything but peaceful, corrupted further by splinter groups and, in some first world countries, no longer thought vital to the education of young people, there is much to be done if the trend is to be reversed.
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