Connecting Abram with Gen 1–11: Introductory Thoughts
Genesis 1–11 is the prologue to the story of God’s mission to redeem a lost humanity and heal a broken world. It provides the backstory. It describes the world as God originally crafted it. Gen 3–11 explains poignantly why the world into which we were born is not the world of God’s dreams. The tragedy of sin’s infestation of creation is evident on the pages of Gen 3–11, but in it we already have seen seeds of hope, not because of humanity but because of the goodness of the Creator God. The Creator God is also the God who in these same texts begins works to be the God of reconciliation and redemption. This good news will climax in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth millennia later.
After Babel, we left the human story in alienation, ambiguity and puzzlement. On a positive note, the earth is again teeming with men and women. By dispersing people across the globe, God has partially fulfilled his creational intentions for humanity of 1:26-31. If God’s plan had been for the earth to be full of His visible representatives, the negative is that women and men are lost. Though the possibility of functioning as the imago dei remains, their brokenness and rebellion testifies to something other than the character of God. They have filled the earth, but by there actions they are embodying the wrong mission.
But human life goes on. We encounter a new genealogy in 11:10-26. This genealogy ends with the report of Terah’s sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Provocatively, Abram is the 10th generation from Noah. Noah had been the tenth generation from Adam. The careful reader is bound to ask this question: Will God again move to judge the earth and start anew as He did in the days of Noah?
The answer is “No.” God does not move to destroy the earth as he did in the days of Noah. God remains faithful to his covenant cut with Noah and all living creatures. A new story does begin in 11:27 but it emerges from the preceding history and genealogy. For reasons that our text does not make explicit, Terah takes his son Abram and grandson Lot and begins a journey from their home in Ur in southern Mesopotamia with the land of Canaan as his intended destination. This is an interesting report full of possibility. Most of us think of Abram as from the land of Ur. This is true, but Ur was not the place where Abram was called by God. Abram under the leadership of his father was already on the way to Canaan. But for reasons unknown, Terah stopped in Haran, a town hundreds of miles north of Ur located in the upper regions of the Euphrates river. Terah, Abram, and Lot settled in Haran without reaching Terah’s intended goal of Canaan. 11:32 reports that Terah died in Haran at the age of 250. This brief historical note serves as the backdrop to one of the most significant texts in the Scriptures: Gen 12:1-9. In Genesis 12, God calls Abram to resume the journey started by Terah, but this time, God ups the ante by inviting Abram to become the point person of a new movement of God.
What do you think?
© 2010 Brian D. Russell