When Abram was a young man, he left his boyhood home in Ur to travel the eight or nine-hundred miles to Haran, in the upper Tigris-Euphrates River valley. “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”(Genesis 11:31–32).
Stephen’s New Testament sermon fills an important detail which is not clear in the Old Testament passage. “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, and said to him: Leave your country and relatives, and come to the land that I will show you. Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this land in which you are now living” (Acts 7:2–4). Stephen said that God called Abram while he still lived in Ur. And, on the way to Canaan, the Promised Land, they stopped and settled in Haran. We don’t know how long they lived in that area, but we know that in Haran, Abram’s daddy died.
God told Abram to leave his family in Ur. Abram didn’t obey but took his dad along. Just as a generation died in the wilderness before God led Israel across the Jordan, so it was with Abram. They were stuck in Haran until Terah died.
When we pick up the story in Genesis twelve, we learn that Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran headed for Canaan. “The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, 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” (Genesis 12:1–4).
Consider this. We don’t know how old Abram was when God first called him to leave Ur. They might have lived in Haran for forty years. If that is so, then he was thirty-five or younger when God promised to make Abram and Sarah the parents to multitudes.
Decades later, “when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, ‘I am God Almighty. Live in my presence and be blameless. I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.’ Then Abram fell facedown and God spoke with him: ‘As for me, here is my covenant with you: You will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. I will confirm my covenant that is between me and you and your future offspring throughout their generations” (Genesis 17:1–7).
Abram and Sarah were old and shriveled, past child-bearing years. Parenting a child was physiologically impossible at their age. “By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the one who had promised was faithful. Therefore, from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and as innumerable as the grains of sand along the seashore” (Hebrews 11:11–12). Nothing is impossible for our Promise-Keeping God! He’s even able to make a ninety-year-old a momma.
Faith worships God. Faith walks with God. Faith works for God. And faith waits for God.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.