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The Three Patriarchs

The Epistle to the Hebrews presents the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to us as examples of men of faith. They lived in hope. They lived with the promise of God's faithfulness.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called, and went forth to the place he was to receive as a heritage; he went forth, moreover, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose designer and maker is God.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your descendants be called." He reasoned that God was able to raise from the dead, and so he received Isaac back as a symbol. By faith Isaac invoked for Jacob and Esau blessings that were still to be.              (Heb. 11: 8-10; 17-20)

This classical tribute to the great Patriarchs of the Old Testament honors them, above all, for their faith. Firm and unyielding in the midst of all obstacles, these Patriarchs are celebrated by the Church on the Sunday of the Forefathers, the second Sunday before Christmas. In the Vespers we honor them:

O Faithful, let us sing a hymn of praise to all the Ancestors who pre ceded the Law: Abraham the friend of God, Isaac, who was born of a promise, Jacob and the Twelve Heads of the Tribes. Let us ask for giveness of our sins from Christ our God, Who is glorified in His Saints.Christian prayers continually recall the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the Patriarchs of our

Christian inheritance. Their role in God's plan points out many of the ways which God chose to make Himself known to His people. Abraham is a model, for he is a father to us as he shows the right attitude among those to whom God spoke. When called to offer his only son, Isaac, in sacrifice, Abraham placed his faith in the one true God. Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob both personify the tensions existing among the earliest Patriarchs. Among many unbelievers, they attest to a history of God-in-action. Like the Patriarchs, we are called to witness our faith in the Lord God before men of our time.


TROPARION — Through faith You justified the Patriarchs, and through them You made a commitment to a Church with gentiles. The Saints in glory rejoice because from the seed of these Forefathers has come forth the blessed fruit which gave birth to You without seed. Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us.

The three Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob