Questions for Littles: With whom does the genealogy start in v10? Whom do you recognize in the family at the end of the genealogy in v26? What do you notice about the ages of the men as we go along? Comparing this genealogy of the line of the promise to the one in chapter 5, what point about each of the men is interestingly missing? What are we reminded about Abram’s origins in both v28 and v31? What point does v30 make about Sarai? Where had Terah planned to go (31b)? But what happened to him (32)?In this week’s Old Testament reading, we move rather quickly from the flood to Abram. We know from the earlier part of the chapter that some pretty exciting things happened during this time. And, this happened pretty quickly.
In fact, doing the math, Abram was born only some 295 years, give or take (depending upon whether Nahor or Haran might have been born before him). That means that he may have already been alive at the time of Babel (depending upon when in Peleg’s 239 years Nimrod “began” his kingdom at Babel. It also means that Shem was alive for Abraham’s entire life and could well have known Jacob.
The effects of the fall weigh heavily upon this chapter. The lengths of the men’s lives are decreasing. The incident at Babel hangs in the background. Haran dies even before his own father. Sarai is not obeying the command “be fruitful and multiply” not by choice, but because she is barren. It is a hard, broken world.
We may find v31 in particular interesting. Was 12:1 not the first time, and Abram not the first person, whom God had called to Canaan? Why was Terah all of a sudden going there? The text is simply silent.
Things are not spiritually much better than they are physically. We might be able to draw conclusions—since Shem’s clan stuck around with Ham all they way down until v18 and Peleg. But Joshua 24:2-3 makes it explicit: Terah had not brought Abraham up in the Lord, but rather serving other gods.
Sometimes, even in the line of promise, even in the covenant line, a clean break has to be made if the generations of the family are going to go back to serving the Lord. The generations of Shem may have moved away from the Lord, but the Lord had not moved away. He was still faithfully bringing about His promises. He was still faithfully committed to that family—even when there were generations at a time that were not committed to Him!
What ancestors of yours were believers? For what descendants of yours are you concerned? How does God’s covenant faithfulness strengthen you to prayer and labor for their souls?Suggested songs: ARP90A “Lord, You Have Been” or HB111 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”