We enjoyed a braai with some family and very good friends today. The fellowship was good and Christ was Central. What struck me is that the people present came from Benoni and Randburg, as well as from England and the United States. Those from Randburg and Benoni drove their cars to our house and those from England and the United States flew via aircraft to OR Tambo International Airport where they were collected by car. Long distances, but made easy and easily accessible because of air and land transport. It was not like this in ancient times when Abraham was told by God to relocate.
Ac 7:2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’
4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.”
(1) He needed firstly to travel from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran. As the birds flies this distance is 8043 kilometers and 955.15 meters. (In miles it is 4998.3).
(2) Then he needed to travel from Haran to Canaan, some 12,180 kilometers and 978.62 meters (In miles 7568.9). I tried to verify these distances and came up with the same distances. Whether they are accurate or not, Abraham and his family members would have travelled these distances on foot, donkey and oxen. They would have taken many months to cover such long distances. (If you have a Bible or Bible Dictionary with maps you will see it covers huge territories.)
The point I want to make is that travel in those days was difficult and gruesome. It was hard work because they needed to take food and water was not easily available on route. Illness would have plagued them. Some of their helpers would have died on the way. Then there was the desert sand, scorching winds, heat followed by chilling winds at night. There were also hijackers and robbers along the way. Passing through a king’s territory into another’s would not have been easy either.
(3) Mesopotamia was known as the “cradle of civilization” and is present day Iraq.
1) Obedience to God’s call. What is pretty phenomenal is that Abraham was a pagan who worshipped a host of idolatrous gods. Suddenly the true God instructs him to move such huge distances into the unknown and he obeys.
Ac 7:3 “‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’
4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.”
This is incredible … unless conversion took place … and it did! What is crucial is that God says … go to the land I will show you … and at the time of departure God had not yet shown him which land this would be. This is faith in action. That is why I refer to conversion. The writer to the Hebrews helps us here:
Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
We have a saying in ministry that when it comes to any type of relocation or big change in career or even marriage … “Don’t move until God moves you.” This means that as you pray about what is on your heart and mind, if it is God’s will He will bring you to the place where you are totally convinced that “this” is what God wants for you.
It has taken Jenny and I two years of praying, discussing, planning, thinking, scheming, negotiating and confiding in family and friends as to whether we ought to immigrate to the United States. There were documentation hurdles, financial hurdles, renovating the house hurdles, asking whether this is God’s will hurdles, fear hurdles, shipping hurdles … there were green lights and red lights … there were many ups and downs … yet at the end of the day, when we put the total scenario down on paper, we believed this is what God wanted for us … and He opened all the doors and provided everything necessary for us to obtain entry visas into the United States where we will be collecting our Green Cards. We have faith that this is God’s will for us.
Abraham never had all the luxuries of family, friends, internet, cellphones, laptops, medicals, etc. that we have available. He just believed that this was God’s will. He had such faith even though He did not know where he was going. No … this is not blind faith! It is faith knowing that he was in God’s will … so how could he go wrong? May I suggest to you that you ought never to do the calculations when God impresses upon your heart and mind that you relocate or change direction in your career for should you do the calculations you will prove God’s will wrong or impossible.
Once I was saved, by grace God laid on my heart that he required me in ministry. The timing was not easy though. I was involved as a lay pastor, doing all that needed to be done, yet I needed to enter seminary and be ordained before I could receive “orders” and be licensed to pastor a Church. When my spiritual father, the pastor we fell under gave me two weeks to decide about going to study full time I panicked, turning to God is urgent and serious prayer as I searched the Scriptures for “a Word from God”. I got that word on the last day of the two weeks:
1 Th 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
As excited as I was I feared. A wife, two children, no money, a bond and I needed to provide a two month resignation period. God enabled faith to trust Him. That day my employer released me from my employment. Three days later I was at college. One month later the house was sold. Thirty-Six years later I retired from formal ministry. When God calls, God provides. When God sends, God secures. When God wills, it shall be done.
2) Too often we look at money, materialism and man’s wisdom. God wants us to have faith … and He gives faith, but only through urgent and serious prayer. You see, there is not faith to follow God’s will as a Christian unless God infuses that faith within your heart and soul. When He called Abraham, He gave Abraham this faith … not saving faith (yes it came first) but operational faith. Faith to believe God wanted him to venture into the unknown because that is what God wanted. God had a purpose … and that purpose was all about His Messiah coming to this earth. When God told Abraham to relocate, it was all about Jesus!
Lord, help us to be a people who trust You and Your will. You are wiser than we are and because being within Your will is the safest place, let it so be. Amen.