Summary: Terah started out for Canaan but settled in Haran. Have you settled for less than that to which God calls you?
Sunday Morning, April 30, 2006
Title: Settled Too Soon? Text: Genesis 11:31-12:2
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.
1Now the LORD had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
I’ve not lost faith in God, nor his grandeur. I have lost sight of it, though. So my God is god not God. I’ve adopted a puny idol. I settled for less. In my comfort I stopped something, though I’m not sure what, nor am I certain I was that comfortable to begin with. Something changed.
Terah intended to go to Canaan. He settled in Haran. Upon his death God spoke to Abram, Terah’s son, and told him, “Go to a land I will show you.”
When one begins the journey of following Christ, the goal is always the Promised land. But most of us settle in Haran. We fatigue from the journey. We grow old, disillusioned with the long, harsh journey. We set up more comforts for ourselves, not sure how far away this Promised Land is. We grow comfortable short of Canaan, satisfied with Haran. And then we die, never seeing the land God promised, because somewhere along the way we lost heart for the journey, took our eyes off the prize, or settled for less faith in the One who leads. We don’t lose faith, but settle for less. After all, we left Ur, got as far as Haran, just didn’t make it to Canaan.
This will be the temptation of every follower of Jesus. For Terah and Abram it was geographical and spiritual. For some of you it will be geographical. God will call you to ministry, the mission field, or simply a new job. But for all of you it will be spiritual, and that’s where I want to focus this morning.
It works like this. You ask Jesus into your heart. Not because you’re really smart or really good. You can’t respond to God unless he first reveals himself to you. That is called prevenient grace, or just grace for short. So God speaks to you, maybe in the storm of your life, maybe through a sermon, or through a friend. You suddenly realize your condition: You are separated from God. Whatever that means, you want to change it. So you pray, receive Jesus into your heart. At this moment you are born from above. Please don’t tune me out. Don’t think, “Oh, he’s talking to lost people, so I can think about lunch.” No, I’m talking to each of you: lost and saved, young and old. Because once you begin this journey of following Jesus, once you identify yourself as a follower of Christ, (which most of you have) then you are called to pick up and go to a land that God will show you. If you’re not careful, you’ll grow weary in the desert of life, and you’ll settle for less than God wants you to settle for. You will settle in Haran. You’ll settle for less of God.
God calls you to Canaan. I’m not talking about heaven. Let’s settle that. When you receive Jesus by faith, and obey him in believer’s baptism, identifying with God’s church, your name is eternally inscribed in the Book of Life. Every step you take through the desert on your way to Canaan gives evidence of your salvation. But Canaan is not heaven. You can settle in Haran and still go to heaven. But God didn’t tell you to settle in Haran. He told you to settle in Canaan, or more specifically, a land “I will show you.”
But here’s the problem. Most of the Christ-followers that I run into stopped looking for Canaan a long time ago. They’ve contented themselves with what they know and what they’ve experienced. They’re not looking for more of God.
Perhaps romance is the best way to illustrate. Did you know that God created romance? Man has ruined it, but God created it. Think of a young couple in love, and how they spend endless hours in conversation. They can never learn too much about each other. While away from one another all they can bear to think of is when they’ll be together again. But it’s not only that way for new lovers. Take any soldier away form home and see how the love is rekindled and he longs for letters, phone calls, or emails. That’s how God wants you to yearn for him. That sort of love and yearning will carry you through the desert times to a land that he will show you. But most believers stop short. Most of us are just like the church of Ephesus, as quoted in Revelation 2:2-5: