The patriarch of patriarchs, Abraham, is considered the founder of Judaism, the spiritual ancestor of Christianity and a major prophet in Islam and ministers say his near-sacrifice of his son Isaac was a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Born around 2150 B.C. in a place called Ur northwest of present-day Baghdad, Iraq, Abraham obeyed God’s commandment to go 900 miles west to present-day Hebron in the West Bank of Israel.

The Rev. Russell Nebhut says it is not known if Abraham’s ancestors worshipped the one true God because Ur was a land of idol worshippers. “He gives up everything he has ever known and leaves with his wife Sarah and his brother Lot,” said the Rev. Nebhut, pastor of Spirit and Truth Church.

“We’re told that Abraham was chosen to be the father of the nation of Israel, through whom the promise of the Messiah would be carried. From Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel.

“God told him, ‘Through you the people of all the nations of the world will be blessed. Those who bless you will be blessed and those who curse you will be cursed.’”

Nebhut said Abraham’s willingness to obey God and sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22 has strong parallels to Jesus’s crucifixion. “Abraham took two servants with him to the mountain and Jesus was crucified with two criminals,” he said.

“Abraham, who was called ‘Abram’ till God changed his name, carried the knife and Isaac carried the wood on his back just like Jesus had to carry the cross. The father was willing to sacrifice his one and only son. It was a test of faith. Abraham bound Isaac and then when the angel stopped him, he caught a ram and made a burnt offering of it instead.

“Most theologians believe that the place where Abraham took Isaac was Calvary, the same hill where Jesus was pierced and consumed by the fire of judgment.”

Another highlight of Abraham’s story is in Genesis 18, where he shows hospitality to three men who walk up to his tent “near the great trees of Mamre” between Hebron and Jerusalem. He recognized that the men were unusually distinguished and he hurried from his tent, bowed to them, gave them water to drink and to wash their feet with and ordered Sarah to make bread and a servant to kill and cook a calf for them to eat.

Nebhut said two of the men were angels and the third “was God in incarnate form,” who told Abraham that he was going to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if they should be destroyed. “Genesis 18:22 says Abraham was left standing before the Lord when the two angels went on,” he said.

Having bargained with God to spare the cities if 10 righteous men could be found in them, Nebhut said, Abraham went the next morning to the place where he had stood before God and saw smoke rising from Sodom and Gomorrah “like the smoke of a furnace.”

He said the angels might have been Michael and Gabriel, but the scripture does not give their names.

Adam Elliott, co-minister of Downtown Church of Christ in Midland, said the Apostle Paul “points out that Abraham was the one who received the promise and it was through him and his offspring that Jesus would come.

“Abraham is the perfect example of having righteousness through faith and having the willingness to do whatever God would ask,” Elliott said. “He thought he would have to kill Isaac, but he reasoned that God could raise Isaac from the dead and would resurrect him.

“Isaac is a forerunner of Jesus because he foreshadows the crucifixion in almost every detail.”

Elliott said the story of Abraham’s humanity “is relatable because his human weaknesses shine through as he trusts God from one step to the next.

“He knew that God was faithful and would keep his promises no matter what it took,” he said.

Citing Romans 4:3, which says the patriarch “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness,” the minister said, “Belief is the critical part.

“He didn’t just say in his head or heart, ‘I believe God,’ but then not do anything about it. He trusted God and followed through on whatever God asked him to do. In the same way, our faith in God or in Christ is demonstrated through action by doing what they have commanded.”