I had an “I get it!” moment recently when reading the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Stephen in Acts 7:2 says God called Abraham while he lived in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. That means we should understand Genesis 12:1 as a pluperfect: God HAD said to Abram…”, referring back to that previous calling while he still lived in Ur (see Genesis 11:31-32).
Did Abram obey that original calling? God had said, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.” Is that what Abram did? At first, he only partially obeyed. He left his country, but he took his people and his father’s house with him (see Genesis 11:31-32 and 12:4).
I have always wondered why Abraham had to wait so long before Isaac was born. I think this is at least a partial answer: Abraham delayed in obeying God fully. He left Ur WITH his family and then under their influence lingered in Haran for who knows how long.
Genesis 31:30-35 and Joshua 24:14-15 indicate that originally Terah and family were idolaters, and even in Haran were not completely free of its pull. Living among the extended family, even in exile, meant Abram had the economic security of shared risk and the physical safety in numbers.
God had called him away from all that—idols, financial cushions, strategic protection—challenging him to trust his Shield and receive his very great reward (see Genesis 15:1). But Abram delayed in obeying fully. The text suggests that he put concern for his father ahead of obedience to his God.
Can we blame God that Abraham received the fulfillment of the promise so late in life? Whose fault was it?
Yet the New Testament only focuses on his eventual obedience, not on the delay, installing Abraham in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” (see Hebrews 11:8). God was patient and gracious in dealing with Abram the delayer, Abram the weak. Through long years of discipling He transformed him into Abraham the faithful, Abraham the friend of God.
That convinces me He will also be patient and gracious to me, the stumbling and delaying and only partially obedient pilgrim. He is patient and gracious, yes, but my persistent slowness to trust and obey delays the blessing He wants to give to me.
Many thanks to brother Steve Singleton, for allowing me to post from his website, deeperstudy.com.