Genesis 11:10-32 The Godly Line And The Preparation Of Abram.
Here we find the historical record of the godly line, beginning with Shem, extending from the previous genealogy from Adam to Noah (Ch. 5). We also see the gradual decrease in the number of years each descendant would live go from Shem’s 500 years, and with the exception of Terah who lived 205 years (v. 32), to Nahor’s 119 years (v. 24), even as the LORD had said and determined (6:3). With Terah’s three sons-Abram, Nahor, and Haran, there is again another division. Terah took Abram and Sarai, and Lot the son of Haran, and left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the promised land of Canaan. However, like Moses (Dt. 32:48-52), Terah would not enter himself but would die on the way (vv. 31-32). Parenthetically we also read that Abram and Nahor also took wives, Nahor marrying Haran’s daughter Milcah, but Abram’s wife Sarai was barren (vv. 29-30). In the case of Abram and Sarai, it would not be until they answered the great commission call to go to the land of promise, and the renewal of the covenant with Abram, that they would see the promise of a seed come to fruition.
Dr. Duguid is quite right when he writes that “Genesis 11:27-32 gives us vital information about the background to the calling and subsequent career of Abraham” (‘Living In The Gap Between Promise and Reality’ p. 2). It was in fact Terah, Abram’s father, who began the journey to the promised land, which ended for him at Haran. We’re not told what inspired Terah to make this move. As Duguid points out, many people moved around as need required. One thing we do know about Terah and Abram at this time is, “they served other gods” (Josh. 24:2). So whether Terah had a conversion experience or not, in the providence of God the beginning of this journey would serve as a preparation for Abram to carry on to Canaan. It is this realization of God’s providence which speaks to all of us in our own journeys. Was this a road of conversion for them both?
“The idea of going to Canaan had been planted in Abram’s mind. Through this experience of moving once from home and family in Ur, he was being prepared by God, so that when the call came to get up and move on to Canaan, he was ready. God had fitted him to hear his call and answer it” (Ibid. p. 3). The LORD would not let Abram rest in the land of his brother, but rather, He had a land of promise ahead of him. It is interesting to see the pointer here in the genealogy itself to a new era in covenantal salvation history. “In the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11:10-26, it is the tenth name that is the one of key significance. Noah, the one in whom the line of Adam was preserved through the flood, was the tenth patriarch in the line from Adam. Abram was the tenth patriarch in the line of Shem, suggesting that through Abram a new deliverance would be set in motion” (Ibid. pp. 3-4).
“God’s plan from the beginning was to preserve for himself a godly line, through whom the promise of a redemptive offspring of Eve would ultimately be granted (Gen. 3:15). God planned that this “seed” of the woman would ultimately triumph over Satan and his cohorts” (Ibid. p. 4). This is how we should understand the promise to Abram of a ‘seed’. Similarly, the promise of land will become a promise of the whole earth. Unlike Duguid, the promise is not all simply for “the Promised land of heaven” (Ibid. p. xvi). As he writes elsewhere, “at present we often do not see that heavenly reality clearly reflected in our own earthly experience (Heb. 2:8)” (Ibid. p. xviii). However, as the writer to the Hebrews would go on to write, we do see Jesus (2:9), and we are called upon to pray and labour that His kingdom would come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10)!
Like Abram, we also are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). As Paul would continue to write, we also are no longer “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (v. 12). It is not all simply in a heaven to come. The covenants of promise are what give us hope and a personal relationship with God in this world, and this as a result of grace (2:8-9). This is what we must remember (v. 11). By clinging to these promises God achieves His purposes in this world, that ultimately being the original creation mandate, made new through the one covenant of grace. It is in this light that we need to understand the promises of the Abrahamic covenant that is to follow, a renewal of that same covenant of grace inaugurated with Adam and also renewed with Noah.