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Abram’s Call

17 Nov

We find Abram first in the land of Mesopotamia in Ur, living with his father. He has a wife named Sarai, but no children (Genesis 11:26-30). According to the text the whole family left for the land of Canaan, not saying why, but stopped at Haran and stayed there. If it weren’t for Stephen in Acts 7:2-4, we might believe God first called Abram while he dwelt in Haran (Genesis 12:1-4). But, Stephen claimed that the call at Haran was God’s second call to Abram; the first was while he dwelt in Ur! How should we understand this?

I think we overlook the mercy and kindness of God when we judge Abram for being so sluggish in his reply to God. Yes, God did call Abram while he was at Ur, and yes Abram went with his whole family and delayed full obedience by staying at Haran. Nevertheless, we don’t find God upset with Abram for his tardiness or his double heartedness. No, we find God is patient with Abram and seems to sympathize with him concerning his attachments or at least understands their hold on him. I see no judgment or criticism on the Lord’s part for Abram’s behavior. I think at times, when we judge Abram’s behavior, we show our unrealistic opinion as though we are dissatisfied with the caterpillar, because it is not yet the butterfly. God is not like that. He is our Friend—in the story of Abraham, God is **always** the Friend. He saw him, and he sees us as we truly are and loves us anyway. Simply put, that’s what friends do. Don’t miss this point.

According to Joshua, Abraham had been an idol worshiper at Ur (Joshua 24:2). He came from a pagan culture, and we need to remember that the only law Abram knew at that time was that of Hammurabi. In fact, throughout his life, this is the **only** law Abram knew.[1] The Law of God or Moses, if you prefer, wasn’t revealed at this time. So, what did Abram really know of God or of his will or plan for our lives?

Was Abram obedient, and did he finally make it to Canaan? Yes and no; Abram left his own country and arrived in Canaan, but he also took Lot who was his dead brother’s son. Lot was a member of the household of Abram’s father, which Abram was also supposed to leave (Genesis 12:1). Yet, the text still does not indicate God was unhappy with Abram’s effort. Strictly speaking, Abram departed “as the Lord had spoken unto him” (Genesis 12:4). It may have been Lot’s idea to go with Abram. But even if it were Abram’s idea, would it have been morally right to leave his charge (his brother’s son) behind? Is this what God commanded in saying leave your country and your kindred? After all, strictly speaking Sarai was Abram’s kindred, and God called **only** Abram. Therefore, some leniency ought to be given to Abraham when considering his decision to take or allow Lot to come with him.

What was behind God’s call of Abram to leave his country and family? God’s overall plan was to use Abram to build a new nation. He was not interested in evangelizing or otherwise revising Ur. Abram was to be the father or ultimate source of a new people. Moreover, if Abram was to become the ultimate example of those who would later come out of the world and into the Kingdom of God, leaving culture, religion and the philosophy of our respective countries when we are called out by God, then Abram’s experience can be as clearly seen as an example of God’s plan. This would not be an accurate picture, however, if God’s intention was to merely change the nation of Ur. If clarity is important, Abram had to make a clean break from his father’s house, his country and relatives, and God was there with him, as he is with us, helping him (and us) to do all that is needed—no condemnation, no judgment, just grace and mercy.


[1] It’s law of adoption made Eliezer Abram’s heir (Genesis 15:2-3). The code accounts for Hagar being given to Abram, and of Bilhah (Genesis 30:4) and Zilpah (Genesis 30:9) being given to Jacob. Its laws are behind Abraham’s purchase of Machpelah for a burying place for Sarah, his wife (Genesis 23:1-19). It also required the life of anyone committing sacrilege, which is behind Jacob’s statement in Genesis 31:32 over the gods of Leban, which were hidden by Rachel, Jacob’s wife. It was also these laws that required the burning of Judah’s daughter-in-law (Genesis 38:24) for playing the harlot.

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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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