Why God “chose” Abraham has been a thorny theological question down through the ages that ultimately must be answered by the answer of God’s sovereignty. However in thinking afresh about this question a few things become apparent about this man and his sons. Firstly Abraham is described as a “friend of God” (James 2:23), secondly God appeared and spoke to Abraham (and the other Patriarchs) and thirdly Abraham obeyed and walked by faith (even if he did occasionally stumble). These points are related to one another and they all rest on one principal issue, the response to revelation.
I believe that God “reveals” himself to all mankind in different ways. In Romans Paul tells us “For what can be known about God is plain to (everybody), because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Even if you have never had a mystical experience or audible voice of God, God has still revealed himself to you, through a friend, through the Bible, through a dream or even just through creation itself. The question however is not about the revelation, the real question is about the response, and this is where the rub lies for all mankind. I believe if we respond with thanksgiving and with obedience, our hearts become more tender and more receptive to receiving revelation, “light” increases and we end up with more revelation and ultimately on the pathway to becoming a friend of God.
The alternate response to revelation is a much scarier proposition for me and the scriptures outline what happens when we ignore revelation (ie without thankfulness and obedience). Every time we respond in a wrong way our heart becomes calloused and hardened, then our thinking becomes darkened, we become less and less receptive to any revelation and ultimately this affects our actions as we turn to sin and destruction. I believe at any point along this descent there are opportunities for repentance and redemption (although they will undoubtedly be fewer and fewer), but this is a scary downward spiral and should put the “fear of the Lord” into any disciple of Jesus.
So the conclusion is I believe Abraham fully embraced the first option and we ought to do likewise – if you hear His voice today, do not harden your heart!