Christendom believes that ‘to be saved’ we need the ‘faith of Abraham.’ And generally speaking, they are exactly right… But, what is the ‘faith of Abraham?’
Most would immediately quote Romans 4:3,
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
which cites Genesis 15:6 saying,
Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
And this would be correct, but does it answer the question? What is the faith of Abraham? What was the outworking of ‘believed God?’
James/Ya’acov 2:17-18 tells us,
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Clearly, faith and works go together. The larger context of James 2 discusses Abraham and connects the ‘works’ that believers are to do with the Law of liberty, which he previously calls the ‘perfect Law of liberty,’ by which we will be judged. We’ll not chase that rabbit.
Rather, what were the works of Abraham that justified him? The context of chapter 2 articulate the act of placing Isaac on the altar as his watershed moment, but does Genesis spell out a little more?
Abba Yahweh (God), actually gives a clear recounting to Isaac of why He will honor the oath He swore to Abraham,
I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
Hmmm… Faith without works… but, what were the ‘works?’ Yahweh’s charge, His commandments, and His laws…. sounds like Torah!
But, that wasn’t given until Sinai, right? At least that is what I used to think.
Is there evidence of at least parts of the Torah in Genesis? Yep. Let’s look at some of them to demonstrate that Abraham had much of, if not all of, the Torah commandments.
References from Genesis:
4:4 “Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” (How did Abel know ‘firstling’ and ‘fat portion?’)
4:14-15 “…whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.” (How did Cain know anyone finding him would be justified in slaying him?)
4:26 “…At that time people began to worship Yahweh.” (How did they know? And, an aside… why don’t we call on the name, Yahweh?)
6:5 & 9 “…the wickedness of man was great on the earth…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” (How could God justifiably declare man wicked if man had no standard? By what standard was Noah declared righteous? (Romans 4:15 and 1 John 3:4)
7:2 “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;..” (Where is the definition of clean and unclean? Did Noach know that intuitively or did he have the Torah definition?)
8:20 “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” (We have seen altars, but how did Noach know only clean animals on the altar?)
9:23 “But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.” (How did they know it was sin to look on their father’s nakedness? And how was ‘righteous Noach’ justified in cursing Ham?)
13:13 “Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.” (By what standard could they be declared sinners against Yahweh? How did they know their particular activity was sin? How was Yahweh justified in judging them if they didn’t know it was sin?)
17:1 “…’I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless…'” (What does it mean to ‘walk before God? What is the definition of being ‘blameless?’ How did Avram know?)
18:19-25 “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” … their sin is exceedingly grave… Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?…Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (What is ‘the way of Yahweh?’ What is the definition of righteousness? How does Avraham know the difference in righteousness and wickedness? How does he know the definition of a Just Judge? And who is the Just Judge?)
Getting the picture? Avraham KNEW and OBEYED Yahweh’s Torah! His faith was demonstrated in obedience to Torah. Genesis 26:5 proves this when Yahweh says He will honor His oath to Avraham “because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
There are more passages after this in Genesis demonstrating that Avraham’s descendants KNEW and kept Torah. Mt. Sinai was the giving of the covenant to ALL of Israel and further defining the relationship they were to have before the Father, but Torah was already in place.
Three such classic examples of detailed Torah observance in Genesis by Avraham’s descendant Judah:
38:24 “Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry.” Then Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”” (How did he know the penalty for the daughter of a priest was to be burned? …you may need to do some reading in the Book of Jashar to identify who Tamar’s father was… Find that obscure Torah law in Leviticus…. or ask in the comments section. ;o) )
38:26 “Judah recognized them, and said, “She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not have relations with her again.” (How did Judah know she had acted righteously? How did he know he was to give her to Shelah?)
39:9 “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (How did Joseph know that adultery was a sin against Yahweh?)
Those who believe that the ‘faith of Abraham’ is somehow superior to that of the Children of Israel at/after Mt. Sinai, walk in delusion. Avraham’s faith was based on an objective concrete standard that is not defined for the reader until Mt. Sinai, but the clues and context of Genesis point over and over to Torah in toto.
Ya’acov (James) says, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ Avraham demonstrates that the works that justify (according to Ya’acov) is Torah.
Lest anyone misunderstand, we are saved by faith through grace to DO good works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. I.e ‘walk as Yeshua our Messiah walked.’ (1 John 2:3-7)
The faith of Abraham should lead us to walk according to Yahweh’s standard, Torah.
Romans 3:31 says, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.”