Friday, June 12, 2015

All Things New: Abram, The Unknown Road, Pt 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The moment anyone brings up the topic of transitions in the Bible, Abram/Abraham immediately comes to mind.  Like several other Bible characters whose stories are traced over a lifespan, he went through several transitions and I'm going to spend two or three weeks looking at them.

So, today I'll look at Genesis 11:27 - 12:5, which is the foundational transition for Abram and  his family.

We start with a bit of a back story; Abram was born to Terah in Ur; he and his two brothers grew to manhood and married there.  The middle brother, Haran, died.  For reasons that are not explained, Terah then took  his family and left Ur, headed to Canaan.  But along the way they settled down in an area that was, coincidentally, named Haran.  Or perhaps they found a nice place to stop, then decided to stay and named the place Haran after they settled there.  Mr. Scofield, whose notes are included in my NIV 84 text, subtitles Gen. 11:31 - 32 as 'Wasted years at Haran'. I can't really find a compelling reason to assume those years were wasted.  We do not know what prompted Terah to leave Ur, and we do not know what prompted the family to settle in Haran instead of following the initial plan to go to Canaan.  I'm inclined to think this was part of God's plan all along, but as that is not indicated either we have to assume that those things are not essential to the narrative one way or the other.

What we do know is that, after Terah died, Abram received direct instructions to

Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you (Gen 12:1)

Out of the entire entourage that had left Ur, only Abram was instructed to collect his household and continue the journey.  I think it's interesting that the instructions are not 'proceed to Canaan as your father planned' but 'go to the land I will show you'.

I think it's also interesting that, despite the fact that he had been instructed to leave his father's household, Abram took Lot with him.  This kind of makes me wonder, as I have mentioned in other posts,  if Abram had designated Lot as his heir, as he had no children and Lot's father had died.  That would've made Lot a part of Abram's household.  Or, it could be that Lot was tired of Haran and just saw an opportunity to strike out for new territory.  Either way, Abram complicated his life by taking Lot along.  But he couldn't know that as they set out.

However, he had an amazing promise:
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.   
 (Gen 12:2)

 There are transitions that happen to folks from outside their control; sometimes without even a hint that it was coming.  But there are some transitions that happen because an individual considers and then chooses to step into that transition.  Abram could've shrugged that message off as a product of indigestion or some such thing. He could've convinced himself it was his imagination.  He could even have heard God clearly, but then reasoned that God couldn't have meant him and gone about his life as usual.

But Abram heard.  He believed.  And he left.   And he didn't even know where he was going.

But he knew when he got there.

...they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.  Abram traveled through the land as far as the great tree of Moreh at Shechem...The LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land.'  So he built an altar there to the LORD.  (Gen 12: 5b - 7a)

How many times did Abram find a nice spring or oasis, where his livestock grazed and the land looked promising...only to hear nothing from God to indicate that this was his destination, so he packed up and kept moving?  How many times do we follow God's instruction until we get weary, or find a place that looks good, and yet know that this is not the place?

Do we have the strength of will to keep going until God says 'stop'?

Because that's the thing about have to end in the right place.

Where am I on the journey God said to start?  Have I heard Him clearly say, 'This is the place'  or do I still need to stay in obedience to His last word...'Go' and keep moving?

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