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After the flood. Noah's three

sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth,

moved far away. They each went

to a seperate area in the

world to live. Through them

and there descendants the world

came into being.

The stories in the Old Testament

tell us about these nations.

The nations of the Israelites, Hebrews,

and Jews. The Bible tells us of

their beginnings, how they grew as

a nation, and all the hardships that

they had to face. But, remember,

the Bible is more concerned of

how we as a people have a

relationship with God. We are called

God's Chosen People, because

of this special bond with God.

God promised that He would allow

Noah's descendants to grow and

prosper and that He would help

them when they called upon Him.

In return they must obey

God and all of His commandments.

So, that through them all man

could learn to know God.

This special relationship with

God began with a man called Abram.

He was a descendant of Shem.

He and his wife, Sarai,

lived in a place called Ur.

This is in the land of Chaldees,

and is located on the Euphrates River.

Sarai and Abram had no children.

And since they were so old

they did not think they would

have any children. God spoke

to Abram and told him to move

to a new land. There he

would have a family. They

would be blessed with a great nation

and through his family future generations

would be blessed.

Abram loved God. He had promised

to do as God said. So he

gathered all his many sheep and

cattle and began his journey.

Those that went with him was Sarai,

his father Terah, a brother Nahor,

and Lot, the son of one of

his brothers who had died.

They travelled up the Euphrates

River to a place called Haran.

It was there that Terah died.

Nahor decided to stay there.

Abram continued on his journey with

Sarai and Lot. God had not told

Abram where to stop. When he

came to the land called

Caanan, God came to his tent

and told him that He was giving this

land to his children and their

families forever. This is the area

that became known as Israel.

Abram and Lot continued to raise

sheep and cattle. They had to move

around a lot in order to find

good lush ground for the animals

to feed on. They ended up going

as far away as Egypt. In Egypt they were

very successful. When they returned

to Caanan, they had so many cattle

and sheep that it was hard

to feed them. The herdsmen working for

Abram and Lot began to quarrel about

grazing rights. Abram asked Lot if

he wanted to seperate and Lot agreed.

He let Lot choose the land he

wanted. Lot choose the fertile

plain of the River Jordan and

Abram stayed in the mountains. As Lot

prospered he moved into the

city of Sodom.

Though he had chosen the richest

land, Lot found nothing but trouble

because he had settled among evil

people. First he was captured and

taken in a war. There he was forced

to become a slave. Abram heard this

and gathered his workers to free

him. There was over 300 of them.

They caught up with the conquering

army, beat them in a suprise attack

and rescued Lot and the other captives.

Abram brought Lot and the other

captives back to Sodom. The King

of the city offered him a reward,

but Abram refused. He then returned to

his home in the mountains.

By this time Abram was a very

old man indeed. God appeared to Abram and

told him more of the special

relationship that he and his

family would have with God.

First, God changed Abram's name to

Abraham, which means father

of nations. He changed Sarai's name

to Sarah, which means princess. He told

Abraham that he and Sarah

would have a son. Abraham was so astonished

that he laughed. But, God reassured

him that this would happen. That the

promises He had made to him would

continue. He was to call his son Issac.

The next time God appeared to

Abraham, he appeared as a traveler.

Abraham invited him and two other

travelers to his tent to rest and eat.

This time Sarah heard they were

to have a son. She too laughed in

astonishment. But, she was also reassured

this would happen.

When the travelers got ready

to leave, Abraham walked down the road with

them. When they reached a point where

they could look down the road and

see the city of Sodom, where

Lot lived, God told Abraham that He was

going to destroy the city along

with the nearby city of Gomorrah.

The people living there had become

too wicked. Abraham pleaded that it was not

right to destroy them all. The

good along with the bad. God

promised that He would spare

the cities if He could find ten

good people living in them. He

could not. God destroyed the city in a

great fire. Lot was rescued by two

angels who appeared at the house as travelers.

In those days Abraham, and others

that loved God, showed their love by

placing a sacrifice on an altar.

This was their gift to God.

Usually the very best of whatever

they raised. Most of the time this

was a sheep or a calf.

God knew He must keep Abraham aware

of his promises. Abraham must obey

God's commands. No matter how bad

or painful they were. This was

the only way that Abraham and

his family could understand the

seriousness of their promise to God.

God ordered Abraham to place his

son Issac upon an altar and kill

him as if he was a sheep. Abraham

was filled with grief. He had

promised to obey all of God's commands,

not just the ones that he thought was

right. He also knew that God had

promised that Issac would be a father

of a great family, which would

lead to a great nation. Perhaps he

thought God would somehow bring

Issac back to life. This was the greatest

test of faith a man could ever face.

Abraham had three days to decide what to

do and change his mind. He set out

to obey God. He traveled with Issac

to the place that God had instructed

him to go.

When they started up the mountain,

Issac asked his father, "Where is the lamb

for the offering?" Abraham replied, "My son,

God will provide Himself a lamb."

Abraham built an altar, tied his

son up, and laid him upon the altar.

As he stood with the knife in his hand,

a voice cried out. "Abraham! Abraham!"

and he replied, "Here I am."

An angel appeared and told him that

God had seen that he had not

even withheld even his only son,

whom he loved, from God.

And Issac was spared.

Then God blessed Abraham and

told him again of His great promise

that Abraham's family would be a

blessing to all people on earth.

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