“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.'” (Genesis 12:1-2)
We do not know exactly why God chose Abram from out of all the people living to be the father of His people, the ancestor of the Messiah the one who would come into the world to redeem mankind. He was a descendant of Shem through Terah. He had 2 brothers about whom little is said that would tell us why God chose Abram over them. It is sufficient to say that God chose Abram for his own reason, in mercy and love, according to His providential plan, much like he chooses us to be His children.
Abram was not a noteworthy or remarkable man when God called him. He was a small time shepherd living in the big city of Ur down in the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates river basin, a very fertile region where the living was easy. But God called him to leave this land and his family. First he went to Haran in Mesopotamia, another fertile and prosperous region, a good place to raise sheep. But God called him to do even more to go to the land of Canaan, a much less fertile land. Shepherding and life in general would be more difficult, but God promised Abram that He would make his name great, that he would be a blessing to all mankind. Still, it would a big step for Abram.
In today’s individualistic and highly mobile society Abram’s journey may not seem like a big deal. But back in Abram’s day when travel was difficult, slow and dangerous, it was an extremely risky decision. Abram risked everything he held most dear to obey God’s call: his family ties and his inheritance, to go to a land in which he had no roots and no contacts, a place where he would be essentially a nomad. He did this in response to God’s promises.
As Christians, we, like Abram, are called to live a difficult life. What risks have you taken to be a Christian? What promises has God made to you?