날짜: 2018년 11월 25일
제목: 신앙의 교차로에서...
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20181125 Sunday Worship Sermon
“At the Crossroad of Faith…” (Genesis 11:27-32)
I remember an old Korean pop song, titled “Life is an incompletion.”
I think the song-writer wanted to communicate through his song that life is like a long journey left to be completed.
It is true. No one’s life is complete from the beginning.
We are progressing toward completion a little, by a little, every day in this life’s journey.
Our faith is the same.
It is a progress toward a completion.
No one can demonstrate perfect behaviors as a believer from the beginning.
We may be imperfect as a beginner but as we continue in the journey, God will help us to go through and progress toward a completion.
In today’s text, there was a man who has lived an unfinished life of faith.
His name is Terah.
Many among us may be unfamiliar with Terah.
Terah was Abraham’s father.
What we just read in today’s text is a genealogy of Terah’s family.
According to the scripture, we know that Terah was the head of the family.
He was also the head of his tribe.
During that time in the Bible, the Hebrew culture was family oriented and tribe oriented.
Therefore, Terah must have been an important person during that time.
When we read the previous chapter, Genesis chapter 10, we can find out that there is a genealogy of Noah.
It talks about Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth and it talks about each son’s family tree.
Also, we can find out exactly where Terah stood according to the family trees of Noah’s three sons.
Yes, as a descendent of Noah, Terah was a head of a family and a tribe of Shem.
Many of us will find reading a genealogy tiring and boring.
However, genealogies in the scripture are not just a list of names and who gave birth to whom.
The genealogies in the scripture are used as a tool to show us how and where the work of God was.
The genealogies in Genesis 10-11 show how God sustained and worked through Noah and his family who survived the great flood.
And we need to focus on the fact that Terah is a descendent of Noah and his son Shem.
Genesis chapter 10 starts with Noah but at the end of chapter 11, the focus is changed to Terah.
And in today’s text, it shows us how Terah was related to Noah.
Noah was a one of kind.
He was faithful to God and God showed him a great mercy and grace.
Knowing that Terah was a descendent of Noah, we would easily expect him to have a great faith.
However, when we look at Terah’s life, besides the fact that he was a descendent of the great Noah, his life was not that significant.
Today, I would like to share a few important teachings of faith through the story of Terah’s family.
Terah lived in 2000 BC, but the story of his life and his family is very similar to us.
His story portrays us and our family well.
We are believers like Terah.
So, I hope we learn and listen to what God is trying to teach us through Terah and his family.
Let’s first look at what happened in the family of Terah.
In verse 27, it says that “Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.”
Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran.
Abram’s name will be changed to Abraham later.
It was not a big family but I assume that Terah could have been satisfied with three obeying sons and happy with his family.
However, let’s look at what happened next.
The later part of the verse 27 says that Haran was the father of Lot.
Haran was Terah’s youngest son, and he gave birth to a son.
Terah now became a grand-father.
Lot is well known as Abraham’s nephew.
It is interesting to know that the name Lot has a meaning of “hidden”.
Since we know that naming is very important in Hebrew culture, Lot might have been a son who needed to be hidden.
There is no indication as who Lot’s mother was.
Therefore, according to the Hebrew custom, it is unlikely that the youngest son gets married before his older brothers.
Perhaps, Haran, the youngest son, becoming a father was not something the family wanted to be proud of.
Perhaps, that was the reason why Terah named the baby Lot, “hidden”.
There must have been a problem in the Terah’s family.
Terah’s family was shaken.
Terah’s journey of life had gotten harder.
However, the problem with Haran did not end there.
Look at verse 28, “Haran died before his father Terah…”
Things went from bad to worse.
The problematic son, Haran, died before his father, Terah.
Literally, it could be meant “in front of his father or while his father was watching”.
We do not know how he died or why he died.
However, the scripture says that Haran died before his father.
Imagine how much grief Terah was experiencing after witnessing the passing of his grown son.
How sad was his heart?
Ur of Chaldeans is a land of rich soil.
In this rich land, where everything was abundant, Terah was deeply suffering from losing his son.
Brothers and sisters, have you ever experienced a difficulty that is so hurtful?
In this life we experience unexpected things.
We might have a problem with our precious children who have been always good.
Successful businesses might go through financial crisis.
Those are something that we would never want to experience.
And when something like this happens, it really hurts us and makes us fall into a deep despair and sorrow.
I believe we all have one or two things that are so hurtful to remember, so we want to hide.
Yes, we all have some of those.
Things we do not want to show.
Things we only want to hide and forget.
Things we do not want anyone else to know.
Terah in Genesis chapter 11, was a believer who had a sorrow.
The second problem occurred when Terah tried to marry off his other sons.
After the youngest son, Heran died, Terah rushed to marry off his other two sons.
The scripture says in verse 29, “Abram and Nahor took wives…”
It says that they both married.
It makes us imagine Terah rushing to receive his daughters-in-law.
Perhaps, Haran’s death urged Terah to hurry to marry off the sons and expand the family.
As a result, Abram and Nahor each married Sarai and Milcah.
I assumed that Terah had a great expectation for Abram as a first son.
The name Abram contains a meaning of “honored father or father of many”.
When Terah named Abram, he probably expected many grand-children from Abram.
Perhaps, Terah wanted to have many grand-children whom he can be proud of.
Unlike Lot, whose name is hidden, Terah might have wanted to show off these grand-children.
But there was a problem.
The verse 30 says that “Sarai was barren and she had no child.”
Let us imagine being in Terah’s shoes.
In Hebrew culture, having a first born son who has a barren wife was a shame.
How could they continue to prosper as a family?
Being barren was considered as though God has lifted his grace from the person or the family.
The responsibility of the discontinuation of a family is on Terah as the head of the family.
How frustrated and ashamed Terah must have been?
It was not just Terah who was in trouble.
How about Sarai who was barren and who understood perfectly what it meant to be a barren?
How about Abram?
How was he going to cope with being in the middle of the problem?
Today, we look at the problems that occurred in the Terah’s family.
Ur of Chaldean…the most rich land of the time, we see a family full of trouble.
A family lost a grown son.
A family cannot be continued because God lifted His blessing from the family and made the woman barren.
It was a crisis.
Let’s think about this.
This kind of crisis does not only happen to certain people.
It happens to everyone and everywhere.
It also happens now.
We have similar problems like that.
Terah’s story is also our story.
Unexpected things that deeply sadden us, problems which we cannot possibly find the solution to, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and depression and despair… we all have these, don’t we?
We see ourselves in the story of Terah.
And then, what did Terah choose to do next?
What happened in the house of Terah next?
In this time of crisis, Terah decided to do this.
Let’s look at verse 31.
“Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan...” (ppt)
Terah decided to leave his hometown upon those tragic incidents.
According to Acts chapter 7, God appeared before Abram and told him to leave his hometown.
But, we do not find that in the book of Genesis.
On the contrary, the book of Genesis says that Terah, as a head of the house, decided to leave his home with Abram and Lot to the land of Canaan.
In the Bible, we often find the stories of people who left their home.
Jacob’s family left their home to Egypt in order to avoid the great famine.
The Israelites left Egypt to the wilderness where God had led them to.
When the Kingdom of Judah was demolished by Babylon, the Israelites became enslaved and moved to Babylon.
But later, by grace of God, they went back to their land in Palestine.
What do we find in the stories like these?
We commonly find that God led his people to a different place upon crisis.
A crisis became a turning point for the people of God.
A crisis is not the end but it is a new beginning.
Suffering is and can be a turning point to start anew.
Hardships should lead us to be closer to God.
They are like the textbooks for learning how to live this life
Brothers and sisters, is any of you suffering from something right now?
Do you have anything so shameful that you want to hide away?
Are you in pain because of unsolved problems?
Then, remember, now is the time to leave.
Now is the time to readjust your life to God.
Terah is now on the journey to Canaan.
It says, together they went out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.
Both “went out” and “go” are used for pilgrimage in Hebrew language.
They mean that the journey would not end till they reach their destination.
The people on the journey may take some rest here and there but their journey needs to be continued until they reach their destination.
Now, Terah is on the journey of a pilgrimage to Canaan.
However, his journey ended there on the way to Canaan.
He did not complete his pilgrimage.
On verse 31 and 32, the scripture says,
“but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran..”
Terah had a good start on this journey.
He was searching God.
However, he stopped on the way and decided to settle down in Haran.
We do not know what had happened to stop him from going on.
But we know that his journey of faith, his pilgrimage was incomplete.
The interesting fact is that Ur of the Chaldeans and Haran are very similar places.
The people in Ur of the Chaldeans and Haran worshiped Moon god.
Perhaps, Terah realized that Haran is very similar to his hometown and got comfortable.
He might have liked it there so he decided to settle down instead of continuing on a hard journey to Canaan.
Yes, today's text tells the story of Terah who is an unfinished believer.
The place, Haran, used to be at a crossroads for camel trading merchants.
It was located at the crossroads of Nineveh of Assyria in northeast, Palestine and Asia Minor in west and Ur of the Chaldean to south.
The name Haran means “Crossroads”.
What is a crossroad?
A crossroads is a place for a short stay before we move on to the direction that we supposed to go.
However, Terah settled down at the crossroad.
His pilgrimage ended there at the crossroad of Haran.
Once we start our journey of faith, we must go on until we reach the destination.
However, Terah did not move on so he did not complete.
When we do not reach the destination, we do not fulfill our mission.
We do not fulfill the purpose and the reason why God had called us.
When we do not make a decision at a crossroad, we cannot complete the mission.
Brothers and sisters, let us look at ourselves whether we are at a crossroad right now.
Are you stopping at a crossroad of faith?
Starting a journey of pilgrimage is a wonderful thing.
Choosing to live a life as a believer is a great thing.
But the problem is that we would like to stay within a comfort zone.
When we would like to stay just within what has been comfortable with us, we are like Terah who was at the crossroads and did not want to move on.
Brothers and sisters,
Do not stop and settle down at your crossroads like Terah.
Do not let your faith be incomplete. Do not give up.
Do not fall into a habitual routine.
I pray that we all will continue this journey of faith till we reach the destination no matter what circumstance might be.
Yes, indeed, there will be sufferings, hardships, sadness and pain on the way.
But let us not give up.
Let us not plop down and stay.
Let us all move on and continue with Jesus on this journey of faith.
“I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.”
I pray this confession be yours and mine. Amen.