1The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
4So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Text ©The New Revised Standard Version, alt, Used with permission.
Short, sweet, and loaded. We meet Abram, whose original name meant “exalted father”, before his name was changed to Abraham (“father of many nations”). In earlier chapters of Genesis we hear of his wife, Sarai, who was barren, and their journey with Abram’s father to Haran, in what is now known as Turkey. By the time we get to this story Abram is already 75 years old, and past the life expectancy of his era. Sarai, too, is getting on in years, and well past the normal age for bearing children, so this couple would be expecting to live out their twilight years as an aging couple. Poor old Abram was given an instruction he would most likely have thought was totally unreasonable: leave the place you now call home, leave your family, your friends, your possessions, and take only your wife to live in a land far far away. I could imagine Sarai saying along the way “are we there yet?” because the journey would be long and tiring.
Abram was a man of great faith, believing that God would provide for his and Sarai’s needs along the way, and would give them a wonderful place to live when they got to The Promised Land, but God did not expect them to travel without some help and encouragement. We often hear about Sarai, then Sarah, laughing at what she heard about her having children many years later, but what of Abram when the old, childless man – and let’s not forget how badly adults were treated if they had no children – was told he would become a great nation. There is no indication, here, of God setting a maximum age for being called into a special relationship with the Creator. Anything is possible with God. Anything!
This is a personal invitation from God, supported by a series of personal commitments to Abram, and, by association, to Sarai. The language may be directed to Abram, but the message is clearly for both. “I will show you (the land)”, “I will bless you”, “I will make you a great nation”, “I will make your name great”, “I will bless those who bless you”, “I will curse those who curse you”, “through you I will bless all the families of the earth”. The great “I AM” is emphasising that He will … do these things.
How many of us would think of taking up the challenge Abram was given? Give up family, house, car, job, friends, contacts, comforts, and knowing how things work in your area, are likely to be far too great for most of us, but Abram left Haran, despite his age. Abram trusted God. Do we trust God as much as Abram did? Are we prepared to get up and leave everything behind and follow where God wants us to go, ignoring how old we might be, or feel? We might not have to physically leave our homes to take up an assignment from God which involves us pushing boundaries, taking new approaches, and encountering hostile reception from those around us. Are we still prepared?
If you want to read about names in the Bible ask me to send you a link. Names were really important to people in biblical times.