Reading: Gen 12:1-9
“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Gen.12:1(NIV)
A journey is a process consisting of three stages- leaving the point of origin, proceeding to a place of choice and, reaching the destination. It is a progressive process. Without leaving, there is no going; and without going, there is no reaching!
Two heavily intoxicated men went down to their boat at night, to reach their home on the other side of the lake. They rowed hard for hours and wondered why it took so long to reach, normally just 10 minutes away. When the sun was up and both of them were sober, they discovered that their mooring line had never been loosened.
When God called Abraham, the first thing He asked him was to cut the cords… “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household… (v.1)”
It was not Abraham who began the “clan journey” to Canaan- It was his father Terah! “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.” Gen 11:31 NIV.
Terah left Ur, his hometown not because ‘God’ asked him to leave. He had had no encounter with God. He simply left Ur and led his clan to Canaan expecting a haven for his cattle. As shepherds (Gen. 46:34), they had no problem journeying to a land where they could find better pastures for their cattle! What happened?
“But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” Gen 11:31 NIV.
Why did Terah abruptly cease his journey to Canaan and settle at Haran? Because, Haran also was a place of good pastures! (Abraham could accumulate possessions and people – slaves in Haran. V.5)
Today, many are seeking only “good pastures.” When prosperity preachers offer it in church, they rush to the church.
Those looking for prosperity are not serious about their destination, though. If a heathen religion or an Eastern human god offers better prosperity, they go after it. (May be that is why prosperity preachers compete to offer the “best” of the world to those who follow them).
Now, Terah died without seeing Haran (Gen.11:32). “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” v.1
This, probably, was not God’s first appearance to Abraham. Stephen, in the New Testament tells us that God appeared to Abraham even when he was in Mesopotamia, the land of the Chaldeans. (Acts 7: 2-3; cf. Gen 15:7 and Neh. 9:7) This time, however, it was not a mere “theophany” (appearance of God), but a specific command, to leave his country, his people and his household!”
Some say it was easy for Abraham to leave Haran since God showed him Canaan, a land that flows with milk and honey and, promised to give it to him as an inheritance. Is that true? Not at all! First of all, God didn’t show Abraham any land. He just asked him to “go to the land I will show you.” (v.1) Secondly, Abraham didn’t know he was going to Canaan.
“By faith Abraham… went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb 11:8 NIV) Thirdly, God did not promise him the land when he was called… He said, “Go to the land I will show you.” It’s upon reaching Canaan that God appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (v.7) Finally, when Abraham reached Canaan, it was not the “golden days” of the land… What he saw was a great famine (v.10).
Abraham left Haran not because he saw a “better land,” but because he saw God! Only God was before him, not any land! Faith is seeing God and Him alone. Faith is holding the hands of God and jumping in to uncertainty. Without faith, you cannot please God! Faith is not even holding on to the promises of God, but holding on to God himself! Do not look even to the “promised land,” look to Jesus alone!
When you have had a personal encounter with God, you forget your old passions… concerns and anxieties! “When one becomes a disciple, Jesus stands between him and his normal life,” says Dietrich Bonheoffer. He becomes your immediate reality, and hinders you from touching the world… You have only one option- leave the world!
God asked Abraham to leave three things- his country, his relatives and his father’s house. Why? In his country, he is a familiar figure, not a stranger. Among his people (clan), he is comfortable. Father’s household means inheritance and that gave him a sense of security. On the other hand, in another country, he is a nobody, isolated. Away from his clan, he is lonely. Without his inheritance, he is helpless. God wanted Abraham to find a new identity in Him, by disassociating with his familiar, comfortable and secure situations. God wanted him to become an alien (stranger) and totally destitute, so that he would place his trust in God, completely!
Terah was a man of “sight.” He left his land perceiving that Canaan was a better place of abode. He ended his journey at Haran, as that was a better place too! (He had possibly heard that there was a famine in Canaan). A very “practical man!”
Abraham was a man of faith. He left everything, despite seeing no bright future. His friends would have ridiculed him for his “blind faith!” But remember, faith is always blind or else, it is not faith. Sight and faith are not siblings. Where sight retreats, faith steps in!
However, real faith is an outcome of an encounter with God! Without seeing God, you cannot have faith and without faith you cannot obey. Above all, without obedience, you cannot follow!
Prayer: Lord, help me to walk not with sight but with faith. I know, following you is plunging into uncertainty; However, I know it is not insecurity! Holding your hands, I am happy to walk in to the unseen… Amen!
Further reading: Acts 7:1-8; Hebrews 11:8-16