This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot.
Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
I. POSSESSED OF GREAT MORAL COURAGE. Terah, the father of Abram, was an idolator (Joshua 24:2). Both himself and his children were ignorant of the true object of worship, or if they had any knowledge of this, they did not retain that knowledge, but suffered themselves to be led away by the impiety around them. Such is the hole of the pit from whence this sublime character was digged.
II. UNDER THE SHADOW OF FUTURE TRIAL (ver. 30).
(T. H. Leale.)
Homilist.I. THAT HUMAN HAPPINESS IS NOT TO BE FOUND IN THE DEAREST OBJECTS OF NATURAL AFFECTION.
II. THAT THE NATURAL OBJECTS OF HUMAN CONFIDENCE ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN US.
III. THAT CHILDREN SHOULD BE EDUCATED FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR NATURES RATHER THAN WITH A VIEW TO THEIR CALLING IN LIFE.
IV. THAT PREPARATION FOR ETERNITY IS AS URGENT FOR THE YOUNG AS FOR THE OLD.
The Homiletic Review.I. DIVINE PROVIDENCE SO ORDERS DEATH THAT HUMAN CALCULATION CANNOT BE A FACTOR IN LIFE.
1. Youth is no security.
2. Health is no protection.
3. The order of nature is set at defiance.
4. No reliance can be placed on the distinctions of society — on the law of heredity, on favourable conditions.
II. GOD'S DESIGN IN ALL THIS IS TO TEACH MANKIND, from the cradle to the grave, THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE. Death is ever in our path.
(The Homiletic Review.)
The Homiletic Review.I. FACTS.
1. Death is no respecter of persons.
2. No respecter of age.
3. No respecter of condition.
4. No respecter of character.
1. To fully understand and accept these facts, and shape life by them.
2. To make our salvation the first and main duty of life.
3. In whatever state, condition, or period of life we are, to risk nothing on the contingent of living.
(The Homiletic Review.)I. God trained him by separation; by a series of separations. This is the key thought of Abraham's life. We are accustomed to consider faith as the key to Abraham's life. Certainly it is; but did not his faith manifest itself in just this, that he was willing to separate himself from all for the Lord's sake?
1. You find, him first called of God to leave his country and his father's house.
2. The second separation is from his father Terah.
3. The next separation is from Canaan itself as a home.
4. Fourthly, separation from Egypt.
5. The next thing we read of is his separation from Lot.
6. After separation from Lot, comes separation from Ishmael.
7. Passing over what may be called Abraham's separation from himself, in the twentieth chapter, we come to his separation from Isaac.
8. The next thing we learn of Abraham is his separation from Sarah. "And it came to pass after all these things that Sarah died."
9. Then, finally, we find Abraham separated from all.In Genesis 25:5, we are told that "Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac." Abraham had been a rich man, but his heart had not been set on his riches, as was evident whenever questions of property came up.
II. This leads us to the second great subject: the gospel unto which Abraham was separated — the blessing of Abraham — the "Abrahamie covenant" of theology. It is, as already remarked, the same old covenant of grace, plus the idea of separation and consequent restriction. And here, as we are entering upon this period of restriction, this narrowing of the channel of blessing to the line of a single family first, and a single nation afterward, it is important for us to remember three things: In the first place this policy of restriction was not adopted until the offer of mercy had been thrice made to all mankind, and thrice rejected. In the second place, this restriction of the blessings of grace to a single family and a single nation was for the sake of all. It was the only way by which the blessing could be secured finally to all. Abraham was called, not for his own sake, nor for his descendants' sake only, but for the world's sake — "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3); and again (Genesis 22:18): "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." There is no real narrowing. It is still, "God so loved the world." In the third place, even though in the meantime the channel must be narrowed to a single family and nation, "whosoever will" may come. The door is open all the while. "The sons of the stranger" have simply to leave their country and their family, and come and join themselves to the family of Abraham, and to the nation of the Jew, and they are made welcome.
(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)
I. We ask, HOW FAR MEN MAY GO IN THE WAY TO CANAAN, AND YET, LIKE TERAH, DIE IN HARAN? in other words, How far they may proceed in the ways of religion, yet fall short of the kingdom of grace and glory?
1. We may be visited with many convictions, and even with great terrors, and yet fall short of a state of grace. Does conscience admonish you that you have been neglecting your duty to your God and your Saviour — your highest duties, your first interests, even the interests of your immortal souls? Does the fear of futurity sometimes visit you, urging you to say, "What must I do?" It may be well — it shall be well, if those alarms impel you to the Saviour. But rest not in convictions; for if these be the whole extent of your experience, you are still in Haran, separated by a wide boundary from the land of promise, the spiritual Canaan: and if you die in your present state, you are excluded from the Canaan that is above.
2. We may be conscious of tender religious emotions — sorrow, desire, joy — and yet fall short of real grace. Not only may the conscience be convinced, but the heart may be in some measure softened, and yet remain unconverted; for it is "deceitful above all things."
3. We may form many good resolutions, and yet be dwelling in Haran. Who is there that has not often formed these? In a season of conviction, in an hour of compunction, in a day of trial and adversity, we resolve to apply to the things that belong to our peace, to attend to the warnings of the word and providence of God, and to seek after that portion that is satisfying and abiding. But alas! the conviction wears off, the trial passes by, the danger is averted; and we forget all our purposes and resolutions. Or perhaps we set about fulfilling them, and adhere to them for a time; but, trusting in our own strength, we are overcome and brought again under the power of the enemy. What avail an army of good resolutions, unaccompanied by prayer, and unsupported by grace, against the subtlety and power of the enemy of souls? "The way to hell," it has been emphatically said, "is paved with good resolutions."
4. We may actually enter on the work of reformation, and proceed a certain length in it, and yet fall short. Herod not only feared John, but "did many things." Thus are men often induced to abstain from particular transgressions, to exercise some degree of self-denial, to address themselves to various duties — things in themselves, no doubt, promising and right, but being done only from temporary impulse, or from selfish and slavish motives, consistent still with an unregenerate state, are usually as transient in their duration as defective in their principle. These facts are affecting, and even alarming. You are ready to say, If all the attainments you have mentioned are ineffective, what is there that will avail? My brethren, nothing will avail without a change of heart — "a new heart" must be given us, "a new spirit" put within us.
II. We proceed to ask, WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES THAT INTERRUPT THE PROGRESS OF THOSE WHO SEEM TO SET OUT IN THE WAY TO CANAAN?
1. Here the analogy of a journey leads us to mention, first, sloth, spiritual sloth. Like a paralysis extending over our whole frame, it completely unfits us for prosecuting our journey.
2. We mention, as a second obstacle, the love of the world; a principle that entangles and enchains — that perverts the heart, and turns the feet out of the right path.
3. In fine, the grand obstacle is, an inward aversion to the ways of God, a dislike of serious religion.
III. We inquire, WHAT IS THE STATE AND PROSPECT OF THOSE WHO STOP SHORT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Surely it may well awaken both sorrow and fear. Do you not lament the fate of a promising youth who, in the near prospect of succeeding to a large estate, is cut off by the hand of death? Do you not mourn when any object, exceedingly desirable, seems just ready to be attained, and is then unexpectedly snatched from us and lost forever? How deplorable! to have gone so far in the way to Canaan and yet to come short, to have approached so near the promised land, yet never to enter; to come to the gate of heaven, and to be cast down into hell!
1. Consider; those who stop short of the kingdom lose the benefit of all they have felt and done in the things of religion.
2. Nay, further, all that they have felt and done in religion will really serve to aggravate their guilt and imbitter their disappointment.
3. Once more; the conduct of such persons brings peculiar reproach upon religion. For they convey to others an injurious conception of it; they represent it as a system of restraints, of difficulties, and of dangers, without adequate reward. And now, in concluding, I address, first, those who have not yet set out on the way to Canaan — I intend careless sinners, who continue to this day, without fear or concern, in the broad way that leads to destruction. Has God no claims upon you? Has Christ no right to your regard? Has eternity no demands on your attention? Even in you there is a conscience that will speak if you will give it a hearing, and if not here, yet assuredly hereafter. Be persuaded to avert its overwhelming reproaches, yea, the more overwhelming frown of Him who is greater than conscience, by now making peace with Him through Jesus Christ. Secondly, I address those who have professedly set out on the way to Canaan — I mean those who profess that they have given themselves to Christ, to be saved and to be governed by Him. Remember, my beloved friends, you must "endure to the end," if you would be saved. If a man enter the army, and follow his regiment a few marches, and then desert to the enemy, is he not accounted a traitor and a rebel? Such will your character be, if, having professed to give yourselves to Christ, you forsake Him and return to the world.
(H. Gray, D. D.)
I. Let us consider THE WORK WHICH GOD REQUIRES SINFUL MAN TO UNDERTAKE. The call of Abraham from his country and home is frequently employed to illustrate the great duty which is required of every sinful man. Like him, everyone is commanded in the gospel to attain and exercise a simple controlling faith in the Divine promises; to follow in this spirit of faith the peculiar commands of God the Saviour; to go out, in its reliance upon Him, from a state of selfishness and idolatry, man's natural condition, to seek the better and heavenly country which is revealed in the gospel, and offered in Christ Jesus, to every believing soul. Such an exercise of faith developing itself in full and permanent obedience to the Divine commands, is the work which God requires of all who hear the gospel. But when is this great work to be undertaken? When shall man begin to subdue his rebellious heart into reconciliation to the will of God? May he select his own time for the work? Surely not. The Scriptures never intimate a moment beyond the time in which the command is actually given, as the time for man's obedience. The morrow is not given to man. "Now," "today," are the Divine designations of the proper time for man's submission. Whenever God speaks, it is that His will may be done at once. He who rejects and disobeys the commands of God in his youth, is exceedingly unlikely to find the opportunity or the disposition to obey in his subsequent years.
II. Let us consider THE COURSE WHICH MEN GENERALLY PURSUE IN REFERENCE TO THIS IMPORTANT MATTER. Do they, or do they not, generally obey at once? Do they, with Abraham, arise and go? or do they more commonly with Terah, procrastinate the enterprise until it is too late to accomplish it at all? Some few accept with gratitude the blessed invitations of the Saviour, and unite themselves unto Him, in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten. But what is the course pursued by the great majority of mankind? Do they not altogether drive away the convictions of this early period? They refuse to yield their hearts and characters, to be thus subjected by the Holy Spirit to the service of God. They bargain with their consciences, in order to silence their awakened demands, that at some future period they will attend to the duty required of them. Thus most frequently, they live and die in their chosen idolatry and guilt; always hearing the command, "arise and go," and always determining that they will obey it; but never putting their resolution into effect. Like Torah, they die in Haran; they perish amidst unfulfilled vows and attempts of obedience to God, and under the guilt and burden of actual rebellion against Him.
III. Let us trace THE USUAL RESULT OF THIS COURSE OF PROCRASTINATION. It will be but tracing the history and experience of the great proportion of mankind. Twenty years of the sinner's life go by. They are the most important, and in most cases the deciding period of his existence, in reference to his eternal welfare. But their close finds him still unrenewed in his character, and hardening his mind and conscience against the power of truth. In the wonderful forbearance of God, twenty years more are added to these, all of them crowned with privileges, and with invitations to a better land. But the lingering sinner still refuses to arise and go. By this time, he has seen and felt much of the folly of things temporal, and of the emptiness of the heart which depends upon them. But he is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin; and he is unwilling to make the decided and violent rupture which seems necessary if he would now effect his escape from an impending ruin. With more light in his conscience, he has more dulness and obduracy in his affections; and the work of true piety grows more and more difficult. If twenty years more bring him to the verge of feebleness and death, he is still found more deeply anxious to obtain the hope which he does not possess, and which he finds it more and more impossible to get. By this time, he is mourning over nearly all his joys as departed forever. Almost every monument of his life seems to be a tomb. "Here lie the remains," is the inscription which he reads upon pleasures, and possessions, and hopes which are gone. And now, old age is looked for to effect that which youth and maturity have failed to accomplish. But here another disappointment comes. Old age also is very different in its character from its anticipated appearance. Man then awakes to the sorrowful conviction that he has been deluded through the whole of his course in life. He sees nothing of that spontaneous preparation for eternity, which he hoped to find in the later years of life. It is now harder, vastly harder, than it has ever been before, to lay hold of any adequate and abiding hope for a world to come. Lingering Terah sits down to measure up, in the sad calculation of his own experience, the folly by which he has been so long deceived. The love of the world and the pride of self have grown upon his heart.
IV. What now becomes THE RESULT OF THIS PROCRASTINATION? Generally one of two things. Either total, hardened, self-defending negligence; or a partial, constrained, and unsatisfying attention to the duties of religion. That is, Terah either positively refuses to obey the Divine command, and remains to die as he has lived, in Chaldea; or else, he unwillingly sets cut under the lashes of an awakened conscience, and goes as far as Haran, and dies there, in a new condition indeed, but with the same character.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)1. God may make known His mind by the child unto the father; and call it before him (Acts 7:2).
2. By revelation to a son, God may make parents willing to obey His call.
3. The Spirit giveth honour to parents, as leaders, when they follow the call of grace.
4. God points out by name such as He separates for His Church.
5. Faith puts all believers upon motion, when God calls them even from their native country.
6. Faith in God makes haste to depart from polluted places.
7. Faith intends to go as far as God calleth the soul.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Sarai was barren; she had no child. —1. The subject spoken of, Sarai; she that was to be the mother of the Church, of whom, purposely, the Spirit writeth this which followeth to show forth the power of God.
2. The condition spoken of her — under two expressions.
(1) (2) (G. Hughes, B. D.).
(2) (G. Hughes, B. D.).
(G. Hughes, B. D.).