Everyone is excited by pleasant surprises. A good leader has always some surprises in store for his folk. God of Israel is a master in the art of creating surprises. According to the first creation account, God’s very act of creation was a great surprise: He created the entire universe from chaos (Genesis 1:3). The surprise is repeated in the second creation account when God created a beautiful garden from a dry, barren land (Genesis 2:5ff.). God’s interest in creating wonders continues in His dealings with the human history right from the beginning of the family of Abram and Sarai.
God had a plan, as it became evident from the subsequent revelation, to create a great nation. To start with, God chose a family, a family not of young couples or a family with great number of children, but, surprisingly a family of an old and barren couple – the family of Abram and Sarai! Why did God make such a strange selection. It seems that God wanted the humans to know for sure that human weakness and helplessness cannot thwart the divine plan for the humanity. He is a God who surprisingly overcomes human impossibilities…
It was in Haran that Abram received the call of God. In fact, Abram was born in Ur of the Chaldeans. His father Terah wanted to go from Ur to Canaan. But on the way to Canaan, he settled in Haran together with his family including Abram and his wife Sarai. By the time Terah died Abram might have considered Haran as his own country and forgotten his original destiny of Canaan. But God does not allow him to settle with something “good” when God has the “best” in store for him.
God asks Abram to leave his country, kindred and family. One feels happy in one’s own country and feels wanted among one’s own kins and most secure at one’s own home. By asking Abram to leave his country, kin and family God was asking him to leave all his security and well-being trusting in God alone. When God asked him to leave his own country God did not immediately promise him that he would give him another land. Rather what God said was to go the land which He “would show him.” He does not explain to him what the land is called or how it looked like. Abram was to follow God’s command putting his trust in the word of God. Faith is a journey in absolute trust in the one who calls for our response.
Why did God want Abram top leave his country, kindred and family? The family of Abram was a worshipper of idols. So God separated Abram to separate him from the pagan gods and to set him apart for himself. God knew that it would be very hard for Abram to keep away from idol worship unless he is separated from the idol worshippers. Fleeing from the evil circumstances is a necessary step to avoid evil.
God’s command to Abram is accompanied by six great promises – a single act of obedience is rewarded with six rewards. God is never a debtor to anyone! One of the promises was that God would make the name of Abram great. In fact, given His wealth, Abram must have already become a popular figure in his country. Now, what God asks Abram is to leave the name and fame he already acquired in seventy five years! He was to head to a place where nobody knew him. Again, Abram had no hope of retaining his name as he had no children. His name would have ceased to be remembered with his own death. Still God makes a promise that challenges human possibilities. Abram’s obedience shows that he trusted God’s word rather than his own reason.
God also promised Abram that he would make him a great nation. But the immediate step God wanted Abram to take was to sever his ties with his nation. God’s command seemed to defeat his own promise. In order to become a great nation Abram needed to generate children and his sole company for this was a barren woman. To believe in God’s promise was to believe against all hopes. Still Abram obeyed God’s command.
God’s third promise was that He would bless Abram and through him all the nations. An obedient believer is not only blessed by God but he becomes a source of blessing for all. Abram became a source of blessing for all the families of the earth as messiah, the saviour of the world, was born through him.