Terah: Halfway Home

Artist's conception of ancient Ur

Artist’s conception of ancient Ur

The Biblical account of Terah’s life is found in Genesis 11:27-31. Not long after God had washed the world clean of sinful civilization with the Flood, sin filled the hearts and minds of men again. A new start did little to change the inclinations of mankind. An area identified as Ur of the Chaldeans soon became an epicenter of idolatry. The moon god, Nannar, and his consort, Ningal, were principal objects of worship. The area was famous for its ziggurats – high towers, not the least of which was the Tower of Babel (see recent post “Shadows of Babel”). 

Terah was Abraham’s father, and together with the rest of the family they lived in the demoralizing environment of Ur. At some point, something began to stir in Terah’s heart. Perhaps he could see the detrimental impact this den of iniquity was having on his family. Scripture is clear, God’s laws are imprinted on the hearts of men. Even the Gentile world knows the difference between right and wrong. Romans 2:14b (NCT): “ This is true even though they do not have the law.  They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong.”  Terah responded to the urging of the law of God written on his heart.

Abraham's Journey from Ur to Canaan

Abraham’s Journey from Ur to Canaan

Under the burden of great need, Terah gathered his family and left Ur. Genesis 11:31b: “…and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan, and they came to Haran and dwelt there.” When the family group came to the city of Haran, they stopped. Haran was on a busy caravan route connecting many of the major cities of this ancient world. It provided a natural stopover place for Terah  and his family on their trek to Canaan. Even as we breathed a sigh of relief when Terah made his exit from Ur, we cannot help now but hold our breath as he stops in Haran, halfway home, between Ur and his destination.

Like a new convert, he flees sin and moves out to fashion a new life cradled in the arms of God. He had been lost in an environment saturated by sin, but now he is on his way to the Promised Land.  Here let us learn a great lesson, “and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” Haran was a fertile, well-watered plain and provided a comfortable place to stop. But starting is not finishing. Matthew 10:22b alerts us to a great truth: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.”  Galatians 6:9 reinforces this truth: “ And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” The Apostle Paul’s personal testimony bears witness to this truth, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). 

In light of what we see in Terah’s account, one of the saddest verses in Scripture may be Genesis 11:32: “So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.” He died halfway home. The Scripture does not explain why he didn’t continue. Perhaps as time passed the brightness of Canaan began to dim and the foulness of Ur began to fade. Maybe his fallen nature convinced him to stop before he got too far from where he started. Perhaps it was satisfaction with where he was. He was in what he considered to be a good place, so why go on? Terah started, but did not complete his intended journey. He did not finish his course. How many people start with the new birth and intend to make it to heaven, but stop part way and never complete the journey to their heavenly home? They escape the foul habitat of sin only to pull up short of their destination.

Prayer: Lord, help us to finish the journey we have started. May we not stop halfway home. May we follow Jesus all the way to heaven.

~ Brother Roy

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