Eternity Daily Bible Study: No. 545
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 11:25-32
Topic: Abraham's Family Background
Date: 25th November 2005
Genesis 11:25-32 MKJV And after he fathered Terah, Nahor lived a hundred and nineteen years. And he fathered sons and daughters. (26) And Terah lived seventy years and fathered Abram, Nahor and Haran. (27) Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah fathered Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran fathered Lot. (28) And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. (29) And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. 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 the father of Iscah. (30) But Sarai was barren. She had no child. (31) And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot, the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife. And he went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and lived there. (32) And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years. And Terah died in Haran.
Abraham was the first real monotheist and as such is a pivotal figure in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The Jews call Abraham “Father Abraham”, the Muslims “the Imam to the nations”, and the Christians “Father of Faith”. All three religions claim to be “the true faith of Abraham”. Judaism claims it is the original Abrahamic faith, Christianity as having the blessings of Abraham via the Holy Spirit and Islam claiming that it is a return to the true faith of Abraham. In fact, many of the political tensions in today's world stem from this long standing dispute over the meaning of the Abrahamic blessings and inheritance. Jews say the inheritance went through Isaac while Muslims claim it was through Ishmael. So if we are to understand our Christian faith and if we are to understand today's world, we have to understand Abraham.
Abraham was the son of Terah, an idol worshiper and a legend found in both Jewish and Islamic folklore has a young Abraham protesting this. Abraham takes idols to food and water and says “eat, eat and drink, drink” and mocks them. The townsfolk however keep on believing in idols. So one day Abraham smashes all the idols except for the largest idol and he puts the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When the infuriated townsfolk come to Abraham and ask him why he did it, he replies “the idols had a fight and the biggest idol won and smashed up all the others”. When the people said “Idols cannot move or use hammers” Abraham replied “Then why do you worship them?”
Abraham's hometown was “Ur of the Chaldees” - Chaldeans were noted for their astrology (Daniel 2:2) and Ur seems to have been a center for moon worship. In the midst of this spiritual darkness one man stands out, one man thinks about the idols and objects to them on plain sensible rational grounds – that the idols could not hear, or talk, or eat or drink or do any good or evil and even needed to be carried about! (Isaiah 44:9-20) Our conscience and our reason are very closely connected, and the sensible obvious conclusions of reason become principles for conduct in the human conscience. Gradually Abraham's conscience became very sensitive to God, until he was on speaking terms with God. God even calls Abraham His “friend” (2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23).
The Babylonian /Chaldee connection is further in evidence in that this all happens in Genesis 11 just after the Tower of Babel. A large part of post-flood community was at Babel/Babylon building a vast astrological ziggurat to reach up to Heaven and to demonstrate their wisdom and power and control over fate. It was a massive effort, but God dispersed it. Yet the Chaldean/Babylonian culture lived on at Ur, a culture of astrology, hubris, and folly. By direct contrast Abraham is monotheistic, humble and wise.
In Jewish, Mormon and Muslim legends Abram's father Terah serves Nimrod, “the mighty hunter before the Lord” and the founder of Babylon and Assyria. Nimrod is one of the most wicked predatory people in the Bible. If Nimrod is darkness, Abraham is light. Now I do not want to make too much of extra-biblical legends other than to say they all revolve around the theme of Abraham being entirely different from his environment and from his genetic disposition. Abraham was different because he had a different spirit, and was set apart by God.
Abraham married Sarai, his half-sister, and despite the mistake with Hagar, Sarah's slave (at Sarah's instigation) Abraham and Sarah, established monogamous marriage as the pattern for all Jews and Christians. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fully intended to be solely monogamous, (and only the trickery of Laban subverted that in Jacob's case). Despite some low points the patriarchs clearly married just one woman for life and the romance between Isaac and Rebekah stands out as a marriage of both love, equality and respect. However, the women all tended to be barren, and this created great stress and tested the patriarchs in their loyalty to God. But despite their great wealth which meant many women would have been available to them, there were no divorces, no permanent replacements and no trophy wives. They were different in their religion and different in their ethics and their family life.
You will notice the long ages of the patriarchs, Terah dies at 205. This was not too long after the flood and according to most dating scenarios Noah and Shem were still alive well into the time of Abraham. The pre-flood records that Noah and Shem has would have been passed down to Abraham, and then to Isaac and Jacob who would have passed them on to Joseph, and thus eventually to Moses who wrote them down in Genesis. After the flood there seem to have been climatic changes that gradually came in to limit man's lifespan to around “120 years” (Genesis 6:3).
Terah was the one with the original idea to go to Canaan: “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot, the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife. And he went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and lived there. (32) And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years. And Terah died in Haran.”
Haran is the half-way point where many grand callings of God stop, in fact it is about two-thirds of the way along the route. A friend of mine who was a running coach said that when people run a 400-meter race there is a point about two-thirds along the way when people “hit the wall” and want to stop. He said this is also true with mots large projects in life. You get two-thirds along and its weary, and the end still seems a long way off and you feel like, giving up, and many people do. Think of doing a large pile of boring filing – when do you stop? I bet it’s about two-thirds of the way through the pile! So sure enough they stop at Haran, two-thirds of the way to Jerusalem.
One of the other members of the party was Lot, Abraham's nephew. Lot is always a counter-point in the story, who makes the foolish choices while Abraham makes the wise choices. Yet despite Lot's lack of wisdom he was rescued by Abraham and later by God, and 2 Peter even calls Lot righteous.
2 Peter 2:6-9 MKJV And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, He condemned them with an overthrow, setting an example to men intending to live ungodly. (7) And He delivered righteous Lot, oppressed with the lustful behavior of the lawless. (8) For that righteous one living among them, in seeing and hearing, his righteous soul was tormented from day to day with their unlawful deeds. (9) The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished,
Lot may have made many blunders but fundamentally he feared God and knew right from wrong and was tormented by the presence of evil. He was godly, so God delivered him.
Now this is in a way, a parable of two types of Christian. Abraham is the Christian who gets really close to God and taps into His wisdom and lives by faith, and Lot is the Christian who loves God but is not fully consecrated and is a bit too chummy with “the world” and keeps getting entangled in its mess. More on that as we go through this series.
“And Terah died in Haran.” Terah's death is Abraham's calling. God moves in generations and often the old order has to pass away before a new order comes to pass. I believe we are at such a juncture now as many of the older evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal leaders such as Billy Graham are old or are passing away. These have done a great job and taken us two-thirds of the way there, but we still have to press on, by faith, into Canaan.
John Edmiston (email@example.com)
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