In Middle Eastern Culture during the time of Abraham and still today, the two most important resources a person had were children and land. In the Western world “every man is an island” and the focus is on the individual. In the middle East no man is an island for the focus is on the family. Your family gives you a link to the past and a history, worth, a purpose for the future, and identity. Children are vastly important because they provide the next link the chain. At all costs the family must survive.
The family must have a place to settle and the land takes on new meaning. Just as the family is the most important aspect of a person’s life, the land on which the family lives is next in line. To be born, live, and die where your great great great grandfather was born, lived, and died becomes the primary desire out of life. To know that your children will be born, live, and for the males die on the same land is a blessing beyond compare. Moving off of or selling the land is not even an option. This is your families land!
With that in view, there was a fate worse than death to the Middle Easterner, exile. Being removed from both the family and the land left a person without worth, identity, connection, community, purpose for the future…..
Now, reread Genesis 12:1a – The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household…” As one of my prof’s at JUC would say “we often focus on what Abraham gained, we rarely realize what he left behind.” God sent Abraham on a ‘self-imposed’ exile if you will. Yes, he had his wife and nephew with him, but the rest of the family stayed, and he left his ancestors’ land as well.
In calling Abraham, God appears to give him two options. The life he has always known, the life he probably wants – family and land secure, or leave his identity and almost everything that mattered to him to follow this God who knows where. Abraham gave up more than we can realize to obey God. He left behind the very things his world said mattered most, his family and his land.
Honestly, I cannot wait to meet this man. What amazing faith and obedience. May we, God, be faithful and obedient like Abraham, no matter what the cost may we realize You are worth it all.