Summary: The Life of Abraham, Part 1 of 10.
WHERE HE LEADS, I WILL FOLLOW (GEN 12:1-13:4)
Traveling is a hazard, and I had my share of bloopers and misadventures. One was a landing in Connecticut that never was due to snow. The plane did the next best thing and landed in a small local airport nearest possible to the city, and a bus drove the passengers to their planned destination. The consolation prize of a snow-dotted scenic route through the woods was a sight to behold for this city boy.
I had no one but myself to blame for the next incident. When I was a continuing student at Chicago’s Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I missed my night flight home to Los Angeles. The airlines clerk told me I could leave on the next flight in the morning. Calling my friend to return for me did not make sense, so I opted to sleep inside the airport, waking up a few times in the night to check my things, only to find strangers sleeping next to me!
The last incident was very unforgettable – August 14, 2003. My wife and I were going through Customs in Toronto when a power blackout hit the cities northeast of North America, including Toronto and New York. Outside phones were unable to reach Air Canada operators, so we had to join the snaking crowd to reschedule our flight to Los Angeles for the next day. When my cellular phone had no reception in Toronto, I had to wait an hour for the public phone to notify others of our delay.
Early next morning, the departure schedule at the airport announced that the flight was canceled again, and when we got through to the operator to reschedule our flight after an hour’s wait, she said the flight was on again and told us to go to the ticketing counter. After an hour’s wait at the counter, we were told by the receptionist that the flight was off again; so we returned to the phone operator after another hour of waiting and managed to reschedule a successful flight home the next day.
About 1,800 years before the birth of Jesus Christ - after the chaos at Babel but before there were Jews - a seventy-five year old man by the former name of Abram received a call from God to settle in a new land, to build a great nation, and to be a personal blessing to all the families of the earth. The promise to the Father of nations is clear: the settlement into the Promised Land, the beginnings of the Jewish people, and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Abram’s father, Terah, initiated the long 1,000-mile trek from Ur of the Chaldeans, which is located near the Euphrates River about 190 miles southeast of present-day Baghdad, to Canaan (Gen 11:31), but died in Haran, 400 miles away from the destination. (Los Angeles Times 4/16/03 “Ancient Ur Still Standing as Another Regime Topples”)
After Terah died, the Lord said to Abram: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12:1-3)
So, the inexperienced Abram, along with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, made the journey to Canaan. Upon arrival in Canaan, a famine tested him, and Abram followed his own instincts into Egypt and almost paid a heavy price, if not for God’s intervention.
What does God require of those who follow Him? How can we avoid the danger of falling behind, losing track, or turning aside?
GO FORTH AND TRUST IN THE LORD
4So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. (Gen 12:4-5)
The week heading into the celebration of our wedding anniversary in the new millenium was a hectic, stressful and miserable one for my wife and me. We had put our Monterey Park house for sale a month before that and were excited that a buyer had made us an offer the second day of our open house, with the closing escrow a week after our anniversary. At the same time, we had seen a house we like in Walnut and had offered the seller the full price he wanted, in which he duly accepted the next day. Our plan was to complete the sale of our house first, live in an apartment no longer than a month to be on the safe side, and roll over the money we received from selling our old house into the new one as closing escrow.