Our sixth Advent reading is Genesis 11:30-12:4:
Sarai was unable to conceive; she did not have a child.
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years and died in Haran.
The LORD said to Abram:
Go from your land,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
The Advent storyline runs through Scripture.
We see it here, in Genesis 11:31. Did you catch the significance of “Ur of the Chaldeans”?
The scholar John Sailhamer explains:
By putting the call of Abraham within the setting of Abraham’s dwelling in “Ur of the Chaldeans,” the author is able to align his narrative with similar themes that later prove central in the prophetic literature. For Isaiah, the “glory of the Chaldeans” (Isa 13:19) is the city of Babylon that God will overturn “like Sodom and Gomorrah” (cf. 48:14b). In Jeremiah (cf. Jer 24:5; see also 25:12; 50:1, 8, 35, 45; 51:24, 54) and Ezekiel (Eze 1:3; 12:13; 23:15, 23), the Chaldeans are those who live in the city of Babylon and have taken God’s people into captivity.
Thus, it is in line with these prophets that the author of Genesis puts Abraham’s call in the context of “Ur of the Chaldeans,” drawing a link connecting the call of Abraham (12:1–3) to the dispersion of the city of Babylon (11:1–9). Abraham thus becomes a prefigurement of future exiles who, like him, wait in faith for the coming of God’s promised blessing. In a similar manner the prophet Micah pictures the remnant who await their return from exile as descendants of Abraham faithfully trusting in God’s promise (Mic 7:18–20).
It is not unusual or uncommon to wait in faith for the fulfillment of God’s promises. This is the story of nearly every pilgrim who trusts God.
And consider how significant it was for Abraham to head out on his own. The IVP OT Background Commentary notes,
When Abram gave up his place in his father’s household, he forfeited his security. He was putting his survival, his identity, his future and his security in the hands of the Lord.
I think knowing that this is part of the journey helps. Instead of being surprised that there are long periods of life when we are waiting to see God’s deliverance, we can take it in stride. We are experiencing what God’s people have often endured.
Second, notice the universal nature of God’s promise.
“all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Paul picks up on this idea in Galatians 3,
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
When we consider God’s promise of land, descendents, and a great blessing in light of Jesus, it is even more glorious. The kingdom of God, the global church of brothers and sisters, and the blessing of salvation are incomprehensibly great gifts from God.
How does our knowledge of this “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12) help us on our pilgrimage?
If God fulfilled his promises to Abraham with Jesus, how does this raise your expectations of how God will one day fulfill his gospel promises to us?
You are encouraged to share other reflections on these passages.
You can find this week’s Advent 2021 readings here: