THURSDAY, MAY 7, 2015
Abraham’s journey: Directed by God “to the land I will show you” the journey could be said to have started in in his father Terah’s time, in Chaldean Ur, then a very large Persian gulf port, the remains of which are now well inland in southern Iraq. To stay within reach of water the route circled the Arabian desert, heading north-west where the entourage settled at Haran, on the border of present day Kurdish Turkey. Later God spoke clearly to him with a clear call to leave the settled life and journey on to the unknown of Canaan.
Comfort zone and beyond
HE was known as Abram then and his world was a small one. It was a nomadic existence but not a far-ranging one. Even the gods were small enough idols for people to take with them! Let’s not be too hasty to ridicule this – it is a very human tendency to want to make our idea of a deity smaller than we are. Control is at the centre of our flesh nature.
Then God spoke to Abram (Genesis 12:1-2). At that moment his whole worldview was changed. His known world was connected with an unknown world of unknown extent inhabited by an all-seeing, all knowing God who was also personal.
Even his name would change – the name was more descriptive of who you were, in the ancient world. Abram meant ‘exalted father’ and some years later (Genesis 17:5) God would make a specific covenant with the 99-year-old Abram (‘exalted father’), renaming him Abraham (‘father of a multitude’) with the promise of making him the father of a multitude of nations, or tribes.
His world was about to change in another way. His challenge was to leave everything and everybody he might have counted as security in settling in Haran, and embrace the insecurity of an undefined and unknown journey.
Haran today: top, ancient beehive dwellings. Above, location of Haran in modern-day Turkey.
Think of journeys you have made. Have you ever started off, not having any idea where you would end up? Even refugees, like those escaping religious hatred in the Middle East and North Africa, have ideas of where they want to get to! The most laid-back touring holiday or gap-year world exploration still has some kind of plan.
Abram just heard God telling him to head out and away to “the land that I will show you”. Change and challenge was to be a big part of Abraham’s life – and it grew him into the the giant Biblical character he is remembered as today. Change grows us as well. For most if not all of us, change is a challenge – a challenge to embrace a bigger world and worldview, and to trust God by faith when, like Abraham, the evidence of sight and experience doesn’t seem to correlate to the plan God has revealed.
• It’s not easy — but God is intent on growing us in experience of Him and maturity, and as well all know, ‘easy’ doesn’t produce growth.