Summary: Seeing what we can learn from Abram about obedience to God’s call.
I want to tell you about a dream I have. It is a far fetched one and stands absolutely no chance of coming true, yet it is still one of my dreams and so it is important to me. In fact, it is a dream that is probably common to every parent in the world, although, as far as I know, it has never come true yet.
The dream involves a young seven-year-old boy who is currently in your Sunday school. His name is Thomas, and he is my son. The dream involves me waking up on a morning, it doesn’t really matter which one, and as I normally do, I would get his breakfast ready and put it on the table, and then say to him, “Thomas, breakfast is ready, can you wash your hands and go and eat it.” And in my dream, Thomas will do exactly that, he will stop what he is doing, go wash his hands, and then go and eat his breakfast. After breakfast, I will then ask him to wash his hands, and face, clean his teeth and then go and get dressed. And in my dream, he does all of these things as soon as I ask him. He is not distracted by toys, or the weather, or something he wants to watch on television, he simply listens to what his daddy says, and then goes straight off and does it. According to this wonderful dream, this continues from Thomas waking up first thing on the morning until he goes to sleep at nighttime.
Can any parents here imagine this happening, no having to ask your child twenty times to do something, and then discovering that they haven’t even started doing what you have asked. No having to keep a constant eye on them to make sure they not only start, but continue until they have finished. As I say, it is a pretty impossible dream, and almost certainly, it is never going to come true, but I, like every other parent, still hope it will happen one day.
This dream is not common to just humans, however, I am fairly certain that God has this same dream. He too looks forward to the time when all He has to do is whisper instructions in our ears, and we will stop whatever we are doing and obey Him. I only hope that one day, one of us will be able to make God happy by doing this, by being so close and in tune with him that we hear clearly whenever He speaks and obey instantly. Our reading from the book of Hebrews suggests God did see this dream come true one day. Hebrews 11:8 reads: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
The only problem with this is that like any story told a while after it happens, certain events are missed out of the re-telling. We all know of the angler, who every time he talked about the fish he caught, it grew. The Hebrew’s version of Abram’s calling seems to be a bit like that when you compare it to the Genesis account of Abram’s call.
In our first reading from the end of Genesis Chapter 11, we heard that this call from God came whilst Abram and his family were living in Ur of the Chaldeans. This was a city in what is now Southern Iraq near the River Euphrates. It is eighty years now since Sir Leonard Woolley discovered the ruins of this city and began to excavate it. From what he found, we know that the city of Ur was one of the greatest cities of Abraham’s time. It had everything from baths, and theatres to sports stadiums and temples.
Many years ago, I was in a bible study looking at the call of Abraham when someone said that it must have been easier for Abram to answer this call than it would be for any of us today. They reckoned that all he had to do was drop his tents, load his camels and start moving. In fact, it would have been harder for Abram to move than for many of us. For a start, his family had never heard of the God who gave these instructions. We read in Joshua 24:2 that: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ’Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods.”
Jewish legend has it that not only did Terah worship these other gods; he also made the idols that other people used to worship them. This would have meant that the family would have been rich for a city like Ur used many different idols. They would have had a good house built of stone in the city, and would have been well respected by all the people who knew them. This is the situation they were in when suddenly, God speaks to Abram, and says, “It is time to move.”