Summary: God calls Abraham out of paganism and leads him to the Promised Land.
We’re working through Genesis and we’ve covered a lot of ground from creation to the fall to the flood and to the scattering of the nations. We’ve gone through nearly 2,000 years of world history in only 11 chapters, but now things slow way down as the next 39 chapters cover the lives of only four men. The genealogy at the end of chapter 11 brings us to the first man:
These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: 11And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: 17And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 18And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: 25And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29And Abram and Nahor took them wives: 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. 30But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31And 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 they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 32And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
So Abraham lived with his family in a place called Ur. I showed you in the last message that Ur was in Mesopotamia which is also Babylonia. Ur is often called “Ur of the Chaldeans” which is another name for the Babylonians.
What were they doing there?
Joshua says, “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 3And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan” (Josh. 24:2-3).
Mesopotamians worshiped many gods, but each city had a primary god. It’s not that “our god is real and yours isn’t,” but rather that gods were sort of assigned dominion over certain territories (read 2 Kings 17:24-28). Well, Abraham lived in Ur at a time when the principle god was the moon-god named Nanna. If you remember, I told you last week about the ziggurats all over Mesopotamia; the best preserved one in existence today is the ziggurat of Ur which was the supposed resting place of Nanna.
The story goes that the storm-god named Enlil raped the harvest-goddess Ninli and his punishment was banishment to the underworld. Well, the raped goddess became pregnant and didn’t want the father to miss out on the birth so she went to the underworld to deliver the baby moon-god, Nanna. However, since he was born in the darkness of hell, his light wasn’t warm or bright. Instead he had a pale and cold light. To make matters worse the demons and monsters of the underworld snapped at his heels when he rode the night sky “and would have gnawed him to pieces if humans hadn’t made sacrifices each month to restore him to fullness.”
You can find pictures on the internet of carvings and such from that time depicting worshipers offering food, drink, and animals as sacrifice. They did this because Nanna was thought to have helped with the fertility of their cattle (the crescent shape of the moon looks a little bit like horns, and so they sort of tied all that together).