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When God takes his time.
God spoke to Abram
Ever been confused as to what God is doing? OK that's probably happened more than once. It might even be happening on a daily basis. I'm not speaking of the things on a global scale (though those are confusing enough) but the things we ask for but he seems to take forever to reply, or he replies but then the 'follow through' takes so long we either think that we were hearing things or worse still God might have actually lied to us.
It might seem a bit strange to ask such a question. Some might even think it's a bit too much to be asking the Almighty why he's taking his own sweet time about stuff (I mean hasn't the Bible answered it "God is not willing that any should perish etc!") but personally I think it's a valuable question that can tell us a lot about who God really is and how much we really understand him.
I wonder if that might have been the way Abram felt at times. I mean he was at least seventy five years old when God finally spoke to him. Even then he didn't know how long he'd have to wait for the final result. It only started when he was seventy. He wouldn't see the next stage for thirty years, how could he wait so long?
Today we start drawing our government cheque at sixty five and up until a few years ago at seventy we could expect to be in the retirement home! But Abram's just starting out on his calling at seventy five!
We've no real idea when God first spoke to Abram, we did a bit of conjecture in the last hub in this series (The walk of faith) but we don't really know. One thing is clear however and that's that by the time the Bible takes up the story it's clear that Abram has found out how to listen to God's prompting (his voice)
Harran. Where the journey resumed
Get a move on!
"Oi Abram, Get off your butt. and get a move on!!!" was pretty much what God said to Abram.
God wasn't too gentle with Abram. The translations of the Bible that we use today often 'water down' the real language that the original scribes intended to be passed down. The Bible actually used some pretty strong language at the time to get the point across.
Good example is in the book of Galatians where Paul says "Oh you foolish Galatians" the actual language is more like "You absolute complete dumb imbeciles, who tricked you?" (Galatians 3 verse 1 and 2). As I said sometimes the translators lost a little of the meaning when they translated the work, but the original is there if we'll go looking for it.
"Abram, get off your butt, and get moving!" Ever heard it put that way before? Probably not. See the reason is (if you'll look at chapter 11) is the journey had started years before and they'd got sidetracked!!
Years before a family had set out from Ur under the direction of the Patriarch of the family Terah. Terah had died in Harran and now it was time to complete the journey. It was time for Abram to step up and take the clan (family) on to the destiny that God had for them. So, at seventy five the adventure was about to begin.
The journey resumes
The journey resumes when God tells Abram to "Get off his butt"
Abram will pass through here. Damascus was already Ancient when he went through.
Abram's final destination. But his family wouldn't get their inheritance for nearly six hundred years.
Abram hears God
Notice that the Bible doesn't tell us if it was Abram's first time for hearing the voice of God! Usually even in the Bible the first time God speaks to the person there's a story as to how it happened. Moses had a burning bush, Samuel heard the voice of God but he thought it was Eli and Mary had an Angel show up! But here we don't get anything like that. God simply tells Abram "Time to pack up and go"
Could it be that one of the reasons that it seemed that God took so long to speak to Abram was the fact that he'd already been speaking (Chapter 11 verse 31) and they'd got distracted?
Is that possible? Do we sometimes hear what God is saying but things seem to crowd in and we get distracted? Didn't Jesus talk about this is the parable of the sower? Just a thought.
When God takes his time
Whatever had gone on before Abram doesn't argue with God, he just gives the order to "pack up" and the whole tribe are on the move.
Reading the story the way we do can give the impression that it was just Abram and a few others who were moving. But the reality is that the whole group probably came to somewhere between one and two hundred people. Getting that many people to move from a place they knew to somewhere else that no one had seen or knew anything about, in fact no one actually knew where they were going was a mark of trust in their leader.
Abram gives the word that he's heard from God (YHWH) and they're
Take a look around
One way we can get a better idea of maybe why it took so long for God to talk to Abram (or why Abram took so long to listen) is to take a look around at what the world of men was like at that time.
First of all it's important to realize that ho one really doubts that there was an Abram figure anymore. Who or what he was is open to discussion but the idea of the Jewish and Arab (well. some of the Arab) nations coming from one common ancestor isn't all that far fetched anymore. But who he was and how he came into being is still something scholars are open to discussing, ,
2,200 BC was a pretty wild time to be alive. The world was changing at an alarming pace. New metals had just been invented and the age of the copper weapon was doomed as men discovered that by mixing copper with a new metal discovered in small quantities in Sinai and on an Island far to the west was revolutionizing warfare. The new metal it was being mixed with was Tin and the new alloy created was Bronze, a metal far stronger and more pliable than copper. (incidentally the tin deposits 'on the Island far to the west were in Cornwall in England and by 1,500 BC the larguest tin and copper mines ever found were in Britain).
The issue was that for this metal to be made you needed good quality furnaces and they were in Mesopotamia, they were controlled by the Old Babylonians, a ruthless Empire constantly at war with their Northern neighbors the Assyrians.
To the southeast of Harran you had the Babylonians and Assyrians, both ruthless and both brutal. To the east were the Kardochoi (modern day Kurds) and the Chaldani a barbaric people who lived around what is now lake Van in eastern Turkey. North there was the Hittites, an empire on the wane but still a major force on he scene and finally to the south were the 'new kids on the block' Egypt had taken control of most of the levant as far as modern day Damascus and possibly Aleppo.
Abram and his people were right in the middle! They were safe where they were but moving meant danger!
Maybe God seems to take his time speaking to us because where we are seems a lot safer than where he'll take us?
Birth and death of the Hittite Empire
Danger at every corner
Maybe when God tells us something we start thinking of the danger of actually doing what he tells us? Abram and his clan were surrounded by potential enemies. At least where he was relatively safe! If push came to shove he could play the one off against the other. He'd always have one or more allies to help out if he needed it. Moving from where they were. no matter where they were going meant abandoning the safety of the land and people they knew! It meant stepping out into the unknown.
Abram believed in the one God, but none of the empires around had that same belief. Usually at that time those empires thought there were many gods with their King or Pharaoh being a god on earth and dissent was not acceptable in any shape or form. Maybe this is what had prevented Abram from hearing what God had been telling him. FEAR may have been the barrier to hearing God
What do you think
I may be totally off the mark with what held up the message from getting through to Abram. There may have been no hold up at all and God just took his own sweet time (he does tend to work outside our time-frames) but they could also be the reason that Abram wasn't hearing God and eventually he had to start talking like a good old Sergeant Major 'GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GET A MOVE ON ABRAM. Don't worry about the direction, I'll let you know but IT'S TIME TO MOVE!!' (Okay, a major butchering I know but I think it gets the point over)
I know for me fear has at times played a part in not walking in faith. Maybe procrastinating as well, and I'm positive that it's pretty close to the way I hear God speak quite a bit (Okay I may be a bit deaf to what he's saying at times but like Abram we get there in the end!) but
What about you?
Ever had anything you knew you should be doing but just couldn't?
I've got news and it's good news
Just like Abram got many other chances to hear God so he also gives us chances to hear and obey him. He's not the mean old man who gives one chance with a 'blow it and you're history' line. He keeps on giving us chances, keeps on speaking even when we're not listening so that we can grow in knowing him and one day when we get to heaven he's going to be bragging about all the times when we did hear and obey (don't believe me then read the book of Job chapter 1 where God's actually bragging to Satan that Job is faithful! Awesome!!!)
Keep on going. Keep on seeking him and he will speak in ways that you'll learn to recognize. They may not be the ways he speaks to others, or even your spouse, but you'll learn to recognize his voice and you'll know it's him