We read in Genesis 11 that Terah packed up his worldly possession and with his son, Abram and his nephew, Lot and Sarai, Abram’s wife, headedout of town. The city of Ur was in the rearview as this band of travelers made their way to Canaan. Why? It doesn’t tell us in the text, but at first glance, one would assume that Terah just decided he needed a change of scenery. Wanted to blow the whole “moon-worship-thing” that was hot in Ur and head north to Haran and then southwest to Canaan. A mere 12,000 miles in all if they had done the whole trip at once. But see, dear reader, this is why context is the most important rule in interpreting the Bible. Context includes not just what surrounds the particular verse you are studying, but what the rest of the Bible says about that same verse or that same event. They did make it to Haran, but not to Canaan.
Question. Did Terah take his family to Haran? Or did God bring them? In Genesis 15, God said to Abram, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” You see, sometimes we think we went somewhere, but we look back over our lives and we see “No, God brought me somewhere.” Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” It is God who moves his people where he wants them to be. Can we miss it? Of course. You see that clearly in the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel. But even then, after their disobedience, God led his people through the detours and back to the path of his will. He does that for us as well. I took a serious detour on my way to marrying Cindy, and I thank God that he loved us enough to bring us to where we both needed to be.
You read on in Genesis 11 and see that the travelers not only stopped but ended up settling in a city called Haran. Why did they stop in Haran and settle there? Lots of reasons, which possibly included the journey was long, the terrain was difficult, and Terah was getting old. It may also be that when they got to Haran, another center of moon worship, Terah missed his old digs and settled for what was comfortable. He chose the security of the known, even though it kept him in a place of compromise. If what we see in the Tower of Babel was a picture of man’s self-effort at creating a world on his own terms, apart from God, then perhaps what we see in Haran is a picture of compromise, of taking the path of least resistance and “settling” in a place that God never intended. We will see that with Lot later, as he moved close to Sodom and then into Sodom and finally Sodom moved into him. Lot settled, and the price he had to pay to get back to God’s path was enormous.
How about you? Have you settled for what is comfortable, known, or easy? Have you set aside the call of God to know Him and to make Him known in exchange for making a name for yourself?
Abraham made it into the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11, not because of money, reputation, or fame. He made it simply because he chose to believe God. To obey God. And to serve God. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called…”
Why not us?