While not all Bible students agree on the location of Ur, most agree that it is the Ur of southern Mesopotamia, on what used to be the coast of the Persian Gulf. The site of the great city was first discovered in , and has since that time been excavated, revealing much about life in the times of Abram.
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There are ample evidences of elaborate wealth, skilled craftsmanship, and advanced technology and science. In the words of Vos,. Regardless of when Abraham left Ur, he turned his back on a great metropolis, setting out by faith for a land about which he knew little or nothing and which could probably offer him little from a standpoint of material benefits. If the city which Abram was told to leave was great, the home he left behind seems to have been less than godly.
I would have assumed that Terah was a God-fearing man, who brought up his son, Abram, to believe in only one God, unlike the people of his day, but this was not so. Joshua gives us helpful insight into the character of Terah in his farewell speech at the end of his life:. So far as we can tell, then, Terah was an idolater, like those of his days.
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Moses tells us that Abram was 75 when he entered the land of Canaan. Think of it. Abram would have been on social security for over ten years. Rather than thinking of a new land and a new life, most of us would have been thinking in terms of a rocking chair and a rest home. Abram died at the ripe old age of , a much shorter time than Shem or Arpachshad One purpose of the genealogy of chapter 11 is that it informs us that men were living shorter lives, and having children younger. All of this should remind us of the objections and obstacles which must have been in the mind of Abram when the call of God came.
He left Haran, not because it was the easiest thing to do, but because God intended for him to do it. The obstacles were largely overcome by the initiative of God in the early stages of the life of Abram.
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This remains to be proven. The difference is important. Without it we are inclined to think that the call of Abram came at Haran, rather than at Ur. The pluperfect tense had said is both grammatically legitimate and exegetically necessary. It tells us that verses of chapter 11 are parenthetical, and not strictly in chronological order. The command of God to Abram was in conjunction with an appearance of God. In the light of all the objections which might be raised by Abram, such an appearance should not be unusual. God also appeared to Moses at the time of his call Exodus , etc.
In one sense, the command of God to Abram was very specific. Abram was told in detail what he must leave behind.
Promised Land - Wikipedia
God was going to make a new nation, not merely revise an existing one. Little of the culture, religion, or philosophy of the people of Ur was to be a part of what God planned to do with His people, Israel. Abram did not even know where he would settle. The faith to which we are called is not faith in a plan, but faith in a person. Much more important than where he was, God was concerned with who he was, and in Whom he trusted.
God is not nearly so concerned with geography as He is with godliness. The relationship between the command of God to Abram in verse 1 and the incident at Babel in chapter 11 should not be overlooked. At Babel men chose to disregard the command of God to disperse and populate the earth. They strove to find security and renown by banding together and building a great city They sought blessing in the product of their own labors, rather than in the promise of God.
The command of God to Abram is, in effect, a reversal of what man attempted at Babel. Abram was secure and comfortable in Ur, a great city. God called him to leave that city and to exchange his townhouse for a tent. God promised Abram a great name what the people of Babel sought, as a result of leaving Ur, leaving the security of his relatives, and trusting only in God.
Technically, the covenant with Abram is not found in chapter 12, but in chapters 15 verse 18 and 17 verses 2,4,7,9,10,11,13,14,19,21 where the word covenant appears. It is there that the specific details of the covenant are spelled out. Here in chapter 12 the general features of the covenant are introduced. Three major promises are contained in verses 2 and 3: a land; a seed; and a blessing. The land, as we have already said, is implied in verse 1.
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At the time of the call, Abram did not know where this land was. It was not until chapter 15 that a full description of the land was given:. This land never belonged to Abram in his lifetime, even as God had said When Sarah died, he had to buy a portion of the land for a burial site ff. Those who first read the book of Genesis were about to take possession of the land which was promised Abram. The second promise of the Abrahamic Covenant was that of a great nation coming from Abram.
We have already mentioned the significance of Psalm in relation to the efforts of man at Babel. Real blessing does not come from toil and agonizing hours of labor, but from the fruit of intimacy, namely children. This promise demanded faith on the part of Abram, for it was obvious that he was already aged, and that Sarai, his wife, was incapable of having children It would be many years before Abram would fully grasp that this heir that God had promised would come from the union of he and Sarai.
The final promise was that of blessing—blessing for him, and blessing through him.
The Abrahamic Covenant - Bible Story
Beyond this, Abram was destined to become a blessing to men of every nation. Blessing would come through Abraham in several ways. Those who recognized the hand of God in Abram and his descendants would be blessed by contact with them. Pharaoh, for example, was blessed by exalting Joseph. Men of all nations would be blessed by the Scriptures which, to a great extent, came through the instrumentality of the Jewish people. Ultimately, the whole world was blessed by the coming of the Messiah, who came to save men of every nation, not just the Jews:.
Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith that are sons of Abraham. I am greatly distressed by the glamorizing of heroes, especially by Christians. The giants of the faith seem to be sterling characters with no evident flaws, with machine-like discipline, and unfaltering faith. I do not find such people in the Bible. That is my kind of hero. I can identify with men and women like this.
And, most important, I can find hope for a person like myself. Little wonder that men like Peter and not Paul, are our heroes, for we can see ourselves in them. Abram was a man like you and me. Now Abram did leave Ur and go to Haran, but it appears to me that this was only because his pagan father decided to leave Ur. There may well have been political or economic factors which made such a move expedient, apart from any spiritual considerations.
A Biblical View of the “Everlasting Possession” Land Promise
God providentially led Terah to pull up roots at Ur and to move toward Canaan For some reason, Terah and his family stopped short of Canaan, and remained in Haran. Now Abram obeyed God by faith and entered into the land of Canaan, but only after considerable preparatory steps had been taken by God.
I am saying that Abram obeyed God in faith, but it was a very little faith, and a very late faith.
But does such a claim contradict the words of Scripture?