Abraham was instructed to keep the covenant obligations, and as a material token the institution of circumcision was imposed upon him and his descendants.When performed, this procedure constituted formal indication of membership within the Israelite community.Perhaps the most serious test of Abraham's obedience and faith came when God ordered him to offer up in sacrifice the very one through whom the covenant was to be perpetuated: his son Isaac ( Gen 22:1-2 ).Dutifully and without questioning, Abraham followed the ritual procedure, and at the climactic moment God intervened on behalf of Isaac ( Gen ), stating that Abraham had passed the divinely imposed test of submission and faith ( Gen ).He was not to fulfill it alone, because the Lord undertook to go with him ( Gen 12:4 ).He was required to be consistently obedient to God's will, however difficult that might be, and to trust without question the guidance he would receive against the background of the covenant framework.This general promise was made specific by means of a covenant between God and Abraham ( Gen 15:8-18 ; 17:1-14 ), which provided the offspring of the patriarch with a large tract of territory.Abraham was to father many nations ( Gen 17:5 ), and the covenant that was to be established with him and his seed was to be perpetual in nature.
Abraham is of profound religious significance because he was the historic ancestor of the twelve tribes, the "seed of Abraham, " who regularly described their God as "the God of Abraham." By virtue of being children of divine promise ( Gen 12:2 ), the Israelites were living proof of God's existence and power in human society.
The idea of a covenant, or binding agreement between two parties, was already familiar in the early Middle Bronze Age, and by mutual agreement involved penalties if one of the participants defaulted.
It was normally marked by some form of ritual ( Gen 15:9-17 ), which emphasized the solemnity and significance of the occasion.
For such implicit obedience Abraham was to become an example of covenant fidelity. James ) Abraham is described as the "friends" of God.
As late as New Testament times, he and Sarah were lauded as people who lived and died in an attitude of faith ( Heb 11:8-18 ).