This week we have the great treat of learning about Abraham, the father of monotheism. In Genesis, we read of his beginnings and get our first sense of his importance to us and to all people of faith. In Isaiah, we get the benefit of the prophet’s retrospective view of Abraham.
Speaking of Abraham, Isaiah says, “Who inspired the one from the east, at whose every footstep righteousness attended? He will deliver nations to him, and may he dominate kings… Let him pursue them and pass on safely, on a path where his feet have never come.”
What do we learn here and in Genesis?
First, we learn that Abraham is a man of profound and pervasive righteousness. Whether it was in his resolving differences generously with Lot, his rescuing Lot, or his refusal to enrich himself with the king of Sodom, we begin to see this righteousness in action. Abraham will pass more such tests, but we know early on that God “accounted it to him as righteousness.”
Second, significantly because of righteousness and on behalf of its pursuit throughout the world, God gives to Abraham and his seed the blessing of a covenant with both land and a mission. While his people will stray and find exile over time, there will be return, and Abraham will, through them, be “a father of a multitude of nations.”
There are victorious battles with kings in Genesis, and there’s a discussion of domination in Isaiah. What is this domination – at its deepest level?
We get a fantastic literary description of the means by which this domination will come about. “Behold! I have made you a new, sharp threshing tool with many blades; you shall thresh mountains and grind them small, and make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind will carry them off…”
I would be curious about yours, but here’s my take: Our God-given way is principally one of righteousness. Like Abraham’s, our footsteps ought to be attended by righteousness. Like the threshing tool, righteousness will ultimately grind away all that is callous and unjust. And, it will, at least in part, be through our living righteously that God’s sovereignty spreads over the world. Then, the nations “will rejoice in God.”
Living righteously is the essential human duty in the covenant that God makes with the world’s first truly righteous man and the work He expects from all of us, his seed, who carry His blessing.