Part 1: Leaving Ur
“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.”-Hebrews 11:8
The book of Hebrews, chapter 11, is referred to by many scholars as the Hall of Faith. Captured within this chapter is a list of men and women who took extraordinary steps of faith to follow God. Nestled within that chapter is this passage about the patriarch, Abraham. It speaks of Abraham’s faith to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as an inheritance and then it says this “He went without knowing where he was going.”
I wonder how many of us can identify with that statement. Ever wonder where it is that God is leading you? Ever wonder what God has in store for your life? Ever wonder what in the world am I supposed to be doing? Going without knowing means that we must walk by faith every day, leaning on God for direction and wisdom for our next step. Abraham’s faith to go without knowing secured him a spot in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith. However, we cannot overlook the fact that he was able to go because someone laid the groundwork before him.
“This is the account of Terah’s family. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. But Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of his birth, while his father, Terah, was still living. Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. (Milcah and her sister Iscah were daughters of Nahor’s brother Haran.) But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children. One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.”-Genesis 11:27-32
There is not a lot recorded in scripture about Abraham’s father Terah. He is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy in Luke 3:34 and he is also mentioned by Joshua in his final address to Israel before he dies:
“Then Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers. So, they came and presented themselves to God. Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, [a] and they worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac.”-Joshua 24:1-3
Terah and his family were idol worshippers while living in Ur. This great move from Ur that Terah and his family made towards Canaan, was not originally based on their righteous relationship with God. Most likely, Terah’s decision was purely economic. Or, perhaps, it was to move his family away from the rampant idolatry that consumed that part of the world. When we consider Abraham’s sensitivity to hear God and later how Lot’s righteous soul was vexed by the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah; it begs the question, where did these men glean their sense of right and wrong and sensitivity to the voice of God? The thing that these two men had in common was the influence of their father and grandfather-Terah.
Although Terah was not the man of faith Abraham would come to be, God used Terah to position his family to pursue God. Terah was the one who made the hard decision to leave Ur. He had to leave behind his economic status, his family, the land, and the life he was familiar with to pursue Canaan. In doing so, he was laying the groundwork for a young man named Abraham. There is something to be said for the pioneers that went before us. The groundwork they laid in our lives, positioned us for what God has in store for us.
King David had it in his heart to build a Temple for God, he gathered the wealth and supplies needed, but it would be Solomon who would build it. Moses led the children of Israel through the desert to the promised land, but he would only gaze into it, Joshua would lead the people across the river.
Whatever it is God leads you to, there were people who went ahead of you and laid some groundwork.