How Was Abraham Saved? -- By: P. D. Cowan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 044:175 (Jul 1887)
Article: How Was Abraham Saved?
Author: P. D. Cowan

How Was Abraham Saved?

Rev. P. D. Cowan

There is a legend preserved in the Koran, that the conversion of Abraham occurred in this manner: “When night overshadowed him, he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set he said, ‘I like not those that set.’ And when he saw the moon rising he said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when the moon set he answered, ‘Verily, if my Lord direct me not in the right way, I shall be as one of those who err.’ And when he saw the sun rising he said, ‘This is my Lord. This is greater than the star or moon/ But when the sun went down he said, ‘O, my people, I am clear of these things. I turn my face to Him Who hath made the heaven and the earth.’”1 Such a story is full of interest, and all the more so when we see the points of similarity between this and the story which we find in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, where the stars are indeed made to play an important part in Abraham’s spiritual history. In this passage and in the fourth chapter of Romans, we have the inspired account of at least the manner of Abraham’s conversion. Only a moment’s comparison of these two passages is needed, in order to show that they are thus closely related. In speaking of Abraham’s justification, Paul writes: “What saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted [reckoned, revised version,] unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). And the particular Scripture which is intended is indicated in verse eighteen, where we read, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of

many nations, according to that which was spoken, ‘So shall thy seed be.’” On comparing this with the fifteenth chapter of Genesis we find that just such a promise is there made to Abraham. The patriarch had complained of his childlessness, and intimated that the head servant of his household was really his heir. And the Lord comforts him with the promise that, instead of this, one born of his own flesh shall be his heir. And then He brought him out under the clear vault of heaven, in which were flashing myriads of stars, and bade him look up, and number them if he could. And, as Abraham’s glance swept across the glittering sky, He declared unto him, “So shall thy seed be.” And the same comment follows immediately which we have already quoted from the first part of the fourth of Romans: “And he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness” (ver. 6). It is evident, therefore, that this was the passage which St. Paul had in mind, and the two may, without doubt, be conside...

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