Genesis 11:10-32 lists the descendants of Shem to Abram and his nephew Lot. Two things stand out in the genealogy. The first is that after Shem who had his son at age 100 (Noah had fathered him at 500) people began having children sooner, they were having children at age 30. The second is that life spans quickly decreased after the flood and by the time it reached Abram’s father Terah, he lived 205 years. Terah was also notable because he fathered his three sons at the age of 70.
Verses 27-32 tell a touching story though without many details.
Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
We are not told how Haran died, but of course the death of any child even if he is an adult with a children of his own is harrowing. For whatever reason Terah decided to leave Ur and go to Canaan. I imagine that the death of his son made him want to leave. He took Abram, Sarai and Lot with him. Nahor and Milcah did not go, they were likely settled and chose not to follow. When Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot settled into their new land, it was called Haran. It doesn’t say but I believe Terah named it after his son to honor him.
Chapter 12 begins with the Lord calling Abram. Verses 1-3 read,
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And 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. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
I don’t think this was an easy call to answer. Terah had already lost a son and been deeply affected by that loss. He had left his other son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren behind and would likely never see them again. We don’t know if Terah’s wife was alive, she is not mentioned but since everyone else was mentioned, I tend to think Terah was a widower. Abram felt a loyalty to his elderly bereaved father. It had to have been hard to think about leaving him. Maybe he wanted to say, “My dad is 145 years old, can I follow you after he dies?” But he didn’t. He was faithful. So when the Lord called him, he answered. Verses 4-6 read,
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
Obedience requires faith. Faith requires action. Abram answered God’s call in obedience. How would God make him a great nation when his wife was barren and he was 75 years old? Abram didn’t know, but he didn’t need to know, he only needed to trust the word of God. Verses 7-9 read,
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.
The Lord appeared to Abram and made a promise. It was here that the Promised Land got its name. What was now Canaan would become the Promised Land that Abram’s offspring Israel would one day take. But that would be many generations in the future. Now it was Canaan, the land promised to a childless aging couple’s progeny.
Abram believed God’s promise and built an altar to memorialize it, praise God, and glorify Him. Then he moved on, that Promised Land was for his descendants not for him. He went on to Negeb.
Abram’s faith enabled him to obey God even though it had to be very difficult. His obedience gave God the opportunity to bless him and eventually bless the world through Jesus Christ. Faith enables us to trust God enough to hear, listen, and obey and faith allows us to ask. Some of us have an easier time having faith than others. We’ve forgotten what it was like before we knew God. But faith is not easy or automatic for everyone. They have no idea the blessings that they miss out on because they can’t let God be God. Consider the people in the following passage. The Lord called each of them, but they couldn’t let go of their security, their responsibilities, or their families. Luke 9:57-62 reads,
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
They missed out on the security of salvation, the family of God, and the ministries He would give them. Do you think Jesus should have told them about the promises and rewards before He asked them to sacrifice and follow? He didn’t tell Abram. Abram obeyed because he trusted God, he had faith. If we follow God for the rewards, we are not following the Lord, we’re following our desires.
Faith allows us to ask God for things and so be blessed to receive those things. It was faith that made it possible for the Roman centurion to ask for his servant’s healing (Luke 7:1-10). It was faith that le the woman to touch Jesus’ robes for healing (Luke 8:42-48). Had they not asked or acted on their faith, they would not have received what they needed.
Believer, faith is not always easy. We wouldn’t call it faith if it were. But know that God loves you and wants to give you good things. So exercise your faith enough to act on it. In Luke 11:9-13 Jesus said,
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”