Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Genesis 11:26-12:4


My wife Brooke often tells me that she desires "safety, security, and stability." She wants me to put down an anchor rather than just throw out a fish bobber. 

During our marriage, I confess to having submitted my resume in the past to some places without talking to Brooke about it first. Others probably can appreciate the vexation she felt over this. My wife just wants to plant roots and establish community.

Yes, it is purely speculation on my part to say that Abram's wife Sarai would have longed for that as well. If she did, however, she never experienced much in the way of safety, security, and stability in her marriage to Abraham, the father of our faith.

I contend that Abram received the call from God twice to go where the Lord would lead him. The first time he had left Ur with his father and other family members, but he stopped short of the intended destination (Canaan) and stayed in Haran (cf. Gen. 11:31). The second time Abram finally fully obeyed, leaving behind his father Terah to go the rest of the way (cf. Gen. 12:4).

In other words, in a span of a very short time, Abram had uprooted Sarai not once but twice. To go where? Abram was not entirely sure  (cf. Gen. 12:1). Because why? God said. 

Only for Sarai, she might wonder which "god" Abram had heard from. Typical of people from Mesopotamia (cf. Gen. 11:28), Abram and Sarai were probably pluralistic in their religious practices at this point. Sarai might question if Abram should follow "this particular god's" voice. 

Plus, if Sarai was anything like my wife, she would not want to leave the safety, security, and stability that accompanied living alongside Abram's father. Brooke certainly would have wanted to know more about where I was taking her:  what were the school systems like, would she find new friends, did it have a Target, were there good medical facilities nearby, etc.? 

This biblical account reminds me somewhat of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Gandalf the Wizard invites Bilbo on an adventure, but Bilbo is resistant to the idea because it would make him "late for dinner." While Bilbo at first expresses an unwillingness to step outside his comfort zone, he ultimately embarks on an unexpected journey. That journey would change Bilbo for the better and impact Middle-earth for the good. 

If I am correct that Abram twice received the call from God "to go," why did he initially stop short of the destination? There is no way of knowing, but I contend perhaps he too was comfortable in the safe, secure, and stable existence that he knew at his father's side. Allen P. Ross further suggests that Haran was their ancestral home. It appears, then, that Abram did not want to be "late for dinner." 

Yet, while Terah remained in Haran (cf. Gen. 11:32; see Wenham below), Abram eventually does fully embark on the journey God called him to make (cf. Gen. 12:4). That journey would change Abram for the better and impact humanity for the good (cf. Gen. 12:2-3). 

Herein resides the lesson every believer who follows Christ should take away from the call of Abram. We cannot settle down in our safety, security, and stability for comfort's sake. No, we must be ready to answer God's call wherever He leads us and whenever He beckons us. 

Let me suggest that the only sense of safety, security, and stability we should cling to in this life resides in Christ's eternal grip (cf. John 10:28). Let us not fear being "late for dinner." Let us never become so settled wherever we are or whatever we are doing that we resist the adventure to which God is calling us. 

Such an adventure might involve moving to a new place, or it might mean doing something outside our comfort zones right where we are. If it is a God-sized adventure, though, do not count on it being easy, just count on in it being life-changing. While the call certainly will move us beyond categories of safety, security, and stability, if it is truly from the Lord it will transform us for the better and impact others for the good. 


An adventure that I sense God calling me on that I am resistant to take is:



from Best Devotional Commentary - "The second thing that needs to be noted about God's call to Abram is that it probably came to him on at least two occasions, which suggests that Abram started out after receiving the first call but faltered and stopped along the way. ... This means that although Abram believed God enough to start out on his journey after God had appeared to him in Ur, his faith was still weak and needed much cultivation. It is a way of saying that one does not need to be a spiritual giant to become a follower of God - after all, none of us is a spiritual giant. All one has to do is begin to follow Him" (Boice).  

from Best Academic Commentary - In light of Genesis 12:4, Gordon J. Wenham writes: "Seventy-five years old implies that Abram left Haran sixty years before his father died; cf. 11:26,32. Without spelling it out explicitly, this remark shows Abram putting the call of God above loyalty to his family (cf. Deut. 13:7-11 [6-10]; Matt. 10:37). Cassuto notes that Abram's life shows an interesting symmetry:  
75 years with his father
25 years without father or son
75 years with his son."

from Best Preaching/Teaching Commentary - "The message is, indeed, that faith is demonstrated by obedience, but the circumstances in the story make this message especially powerful. Abram's obedience was not a simple act of faith (if we dare speak of such); his was the conversion of a pagan. Abram was advanced in years, probably prosperous and settled, but in a thoroughly pagan world. The Word of the Lord came to him - although we do not know how or in what form - and he left his world and his relatives to follow the Lord's command. ...
     The divine imperative simply instructed Abram to leave. He was told very specifically what he was to leave - his land, his relatives, and his father's household (note the repetition of min, 'from'). But he was told nothing of the land that God would show him. Indeed, divine imperatives seldom give the details of what is to happen, although they often specify what is not to be done" (Ross).

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