Confession: Bible passages can bore me. I get this lame idea that I ‘know it all’ or at the very least that I’ve heard it all before. However, this time was different…
Genesis Chapter 12
v1 God asks Abram to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” -- Example of living by faith
v2 God promises that if he does this “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” -- God’s desire to bless his people
v3 And God’s ultimate goal being “through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” -- God’s desire to bless all ethnicities (e.g. through missions)
Of course there is way more to the story and if you are doing a study on this I recommend reading at least a few more chapters before and after to review the big picture.
Now to the side story. I love side stories, I get to speculate, see new things, and learn lessons that were not apparent the first few times around. For me, this is what keeps the Bible from being boring. I believe these side stories are left for us so that the Bible will always be fresh. We must remember they are not the place to make a case for a particular doctrine or theology but if we are sensitive to it, God can use these stories to teach us in very personal ways.
The journey that almost happened.
God had a plan for creating a nation. He had a place (Promise Land) and a people (Israelites) picked out, but the plan didn’t start with Abraham. It started with Abraham’s father, Terah.
Genesis 11:31 says that Terah set off for the land of Canaan but never made it. He settled in Haran. Why? We don’t know, but we can guess. The place he stayed was named Haran, the same or at least very similar to the name of his son Haran who died in his arms in v28. Maybe Terah had some connection here, something familiar, something comfortable that made him want to stay and postpone indefinitely the journey to Canaan. This might seem innocuous at first but if we continue reading the story becomes interesting after Terah’s death.
The time frame is a bit hazy but it seems a fair estimate to say another 100 years passed before Abraham got his call and packed his bags. It might be true that he didn't know where he was going or when he would stop, but in verse 5 of chapter 12 we are told “they set out to go to the land of Canaan.” And once they get there God stops Abraham and says “To your offspring I will give this land.”(v7)
Isn’t that crazy? Think about it, the place that Abraham’s father was planning on going was the same place that God finally took Abraham! I can’t help but wonder how things would have been different if Terah would have gone in the first place. I still wonder why he started the journey or why he didn’t finish. And I wonder what Abraham thought when he realized that Canaan was the place all along.
What is the take away? Well it is never that simple to condense a passage like this down to ‘take home points’ but I do want to mention two things that stood out to me.
1. God is faithful, even if we are not. Who knows how much time passed between the start of Terah’s journey and Abraham finally reaching Caanan, but God finished what he started. God will finish what He starts.
2. We have an invitation into God’s blessings through obedience. The path may not be clear for us now but once we get there we will probably say, as I imagine Abraham did, ‘Doh! Of course!’
I hope that something in this passage hits home with you. Take the time to read these Bible passages again. I guarantee you there is something in it for you.