On the face of it this isn’t the most uplifting of episodes. Desperation and doubt, failure and fear: all lead to a series of poor and at times quite hideous decisions. We’ve just seen how absolute God’s judgment is. And yet here, as everyone tries to get on with life in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see how low life can get without Him. Ordinarily both God’s presence and His absence is a fearful thing, albeit for very different reasons. But in Christ, we can know Him in all holiness and beauty, both intimately and safely. And then life has a purity and purpose again. There is one character in this episode who foretells something of the promises of life in all its fulness that we find in Jesus; it’s joys and hopes despite our circumstances. For Sarah her dreams are about to come true, albeit in the context of being badly let down by her husband again!
Day One – Genesis 11 v 27-30
27This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28While his father, Terah, was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29Abram and Nahor were both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no children. 31Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.
From the very outset of Abraham’s story the Bible makes it very clear that his was just an ordinary family like any other, regardless of time or culture. They enjoyed the celebrations of births and marriages, and suffered the pains of death and barrenness. This is therefore to be a fascinating and hugely relevant tale of how God can impact a real-life family. The only way this story can be irrelevant to you and your family, is if you choose to let it be so, by not letting it impact your life. As long as faith remains theoretical, and we don’t give our Father access to the realities of the joys and pains of our lives, then the Bible will not impact us. So make a decision now, not just to open your Bible, but to open your life too.
Reflections and Prayer
What are your joys and your pains? What hurts and disappointments do you carry? Have you laid these before your Father and given Him permission to speak into them? Why not do so now?
- Abram is named first in the list of sons, but probably wasn’t the eldest. The Bible probably just focuses on him as the key character in the story.
- Abram married his half sister, and Nahor married his brother’s daughter. This was customary for the time.
- Sarai’s barrenness would have been a major cause of heartache for both Abram and Sarai. However there is no indication Abram sought another bride as would have been common at the time and in the culture. This could say much about the man, and the relationship he enjoyed with Sarai.
Although called Patriarch, this is as much Sarah’s story as Abraham’s. And in this short episode we meet a woman battered by life, it’s expectations and apparently broken promises. A woman whose laugh is no longer carefree but cynical, who hides away in tents, awkward in social engagement and lost in faith. But a woman who the Lord knows, seeks out and believes in. A woman who was beginning a new journey of hope and fulfilled dreams. It may be a short podcast but it’s not a bad one!!
What’s it like to encounter God! Sometimes the Biblical accounts don’t help because they tell the whole story. Sure, they tell of the encounter themselves but we have to work out the state of mind of the people involved in the lead up and the context in which the supernatural invaded the natural. I’m not sure renaissance art helps either, beautiful though it is. My hunch is when Abraham met with the three supernatural visitors, it was just another hot lazy early afternoon. I guess by this time too, Sarah at least had grown tired and probably cynical in her faith. She would be truly remarkable not to have done so. And it is into the familiar, the mundane, the questioning, the pain, God loves to appear. It was true in 2000 BC, it was true in 0AD and it is true today. For you and me. So before you give up, give this podcast a listen. biblenovels.com F: Bible novels
Here’s the dream. What if our identity can be shaped by an intimate encounter with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and our destiny be worked out in response to His call and direction. That is life in all its fulness. This episode of the story of Abraham tells how a life can be shaped and empowered by such an encounter. It isn’t in the Bible to tease us. The writer to the Hebrews when retelling the story of Abraham wraps up by saying: “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they [the old Testament saints] be made perfect.” (11v40). Dare you believe this is true? Listen with open ears and open hearts, and see!