Bible students have often misunderstood the calling of Abram in Gen. 12. A closer look at Genesis chapters 11 and 12 revealed a more complex situation. These two chapters are not just about Abram’s origin story but of Terah’s family. The author of Genesis gave an in-depth look at Terah’s family in its entirety. From Gen. 11:25-32, we get the description of Terah’s sons, their respective wives, along with their children. Surprisingly, Gen. 11:31 revealed one interesting fact; it was Terah who took the first step of leaving Ur to go to the promised land of Canaan. However, instead of traveling directly toward Canaan, Terah later decides to “settle” for a while in Harran.
This particular incident seems to reveal that Abram was not in control of the expedition. Although it was to him that God’s commission solely rest, his filial love to Terah allows him to lose the initiative for quite a time. Instead of leaving his family behind, Abram and Terah brought with them their entire family, including Nahor and Lot. Instead of pushing all the way to Canaan, Terah decided to dwell in Harran, fertile land between Ur and Canaan. The Bible does not say how long they stayed in Harran, but it is clear that they started to forget their original destination. In fact, it is only after Terah died, God called Abram for the second time.
Genesis 12 is actually a recommission of Abram. It is a reminder from God that Abram has been too comfortable in Harran. This time, God sets a strong term for Abram.He specifically mentioned, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household” (Gen. 12:1 NIV). This does not mean that God hates Abraham’ family, He just want Abram to continue to move forward regardless of what his family thinks of him. He wants Abram to follow Him single-mindedly and without any distraction.
The journey of Abram from Ur to Harran, reverberates into our life today. Rather than rushing forward with faith in God, we often get distracted by the opinion of our families and friends. Rather than letting the will of God shape our life, we give the reins of our life into their hand. We got bogged down into our own comfort zone and failed to see beyond the safety of our life. On the other side, God never scolded Abram for being held up at Harran. He understood that Abram did that out of respect for his beloved father.
Now, the option is only two, its either we continue to push forward toward the promised land, or we get satisfied by living a happy life in Harran.