Time and Space #12: Deadlines

Is there a defacto deadline when there is no announced deadline?

Ponder God, Abram and Terah.

Notice the sharp contradiction between these two passages.

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”  Genesis 12:1-4  NIV

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.  Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.”  Genesis 11:31-32  NIV

Problem 1:   They settled in Haran until Terah died.  THEN, and only then, did Abram finish the trip God called him to.  Given the fact that one of Terah’s sons was named Haran, we can speculate that the family might have been from this town originally.  Regardless of Terah’s reason for settling there, it is clear that he, not God, garnered Abram’s obedience.

Problem 2:   God spoke to Abram and gave him directions, but Terah refused to emancipate Abram and allow him to be a man.  In order to retain control of the clan, Terah obeyed one small part of God’s orders to his son − leaving Ur − while flagrantly ignoring the rest.

Problem 3:  Abram was specifically told to leave his parents and the rest of his family behind.  He apparently didn’t want to, and they apparently didn’t want to be left.

Question 1:   Was there a deadline in God’s mind for Abram’s arrival in Canaan, even though it was not announced?

Question 2:   What would have been different in Abram’s life if he had arrived in a timely manner?  Scripture does not announce that he missed any great treasure or that he suffered any divine judgment, but can a person ever refuse to synchronize with God and remain unscathed?

Observation:  Many times we are directed by God to change our timing or to change our location (space).  I think one of the most pervasive reasons for not synchronizing with God’s will is that we are held hostage by other people’s emotions.

In other words, it is appearing that one of the great enemies of our being aligned in time and space according to God’s design, is human community.


Copyright January 2018 by Arthur Burk

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11 Responses to Time and Space #12: Deadlines

  1. Jennifer says:

    Was it not after Terha died that God asked Abram to leave his father’s house? Can we not assume that the events in Genesis 12 took place after Genesis 11? I’m just wondering. Thanks!

    • Lori Wright says:

      Yes, “timing is everything”. And we do need to examine and weigh out the difference between the virtue of true group/family loyalty (which is a high value to God) and what is just people’s own feelings and reactions TELLING us that our choices (or what we seem to be hearing from God) are or are not according to that virtue. And for some obediences, timeliness is very pertinent.

      However, Gen 11:26 – 12:4 and Acts 7:4 are ambiguous as to if they support this teaching.
      The book “Genesis 1 – 11 – A New Old Translation for Readers, Scholars, and Translators” by Bray & Hobbins pages 191 – 193 says

      – there is ambiguity in the original about Terah alone doing the leading out. “Who is leaving with whom? The text does not say. The Septuigint and Vulgate have Terah leading out the others. That understanding depends on a text with a singular verb, (as in the Hebrew of the Samaritan Pentateuch), but the Masoretic Text has a plural verb.Perhaps Terah and Abram went out, accompanied by Sarai and Lot. …”

      – According to the Masoretic Text, Terah was in his 70’s when Abram was born, Abram left at age 74 (when Terah would have been about 174), and Terah died at age 205.
      – Gen 12:1 just says “And the LORD said”, but translators change it to “And the LORD had said” to make the narrative jump back (in the readers’ understanding) to before Terah died.

      – “… the Hebrew text of the Samaritan Pentateuch has Terah dying at 145 years old, which would mean that the call of Abram comes right after the death of Terah… A text like the Samaritan Pentateuch seems to lie behind Acts 7:4.”

      My own comments:
      – Haran died and left behind his son, Lot, who may have been quite a bit younger than Abraham. Especially if people didn’t get around to having kids until their 70’s, it could even be that barren Abram and Sarai were in their 60’s or 70’s when Grandpa Terah and Household took in a toddler to raise. In which case, if Lot were a minor, and especially if Terah had, in fact, died before Abram set out, it would be expected that Lot would get adopted by his childless uncle, who would take him along as part of his household. I don’t see any evidence of God scolding for Lot being brought along. In fact, God allows Abram to rescue Lot’s chosen city from captivity, then significantly blesses him via Melchizedek. And later invites him to intercede for the city before He destroys it.

  2. Daphne says:

    Oh wow, “…held hostage by other people’s emotions” this seems to be the story of my live for the past 26 years. Until this month, reading your blog & Megan’s blog about saying “Good-byes” to certain lands in California really draw my attentions like a magnet. It is as if I am also visiting these places & going through all that emotion. Yet, I’ve never been to that part of the U.S.
    Thank you for sharing. Deep…Pondering… thanks again.

  3. Brant says:

    I agree. I tend to think we are lacking something in our relationship with God that lends itself to allowing ourselves to be distracted/influenced by others. I believe we are not operating per our original design; Enoch was. We need to learn this spirit/soul balance; this God vs man dance of priority. I believe God created social community and family, but when it becomes a stumbling block to hearing, listening, and obeying Father, something is not aligned. Have we replaced something of God with the people around us?

  4. lila1jpw says:

    Even our departure at death can be delayed by those around us. I remember my mother-in-law hangin’ in there till my husband and I were there to say our goodbyes. I’m convinced that my own 95-year-old mother with heart failure is still alive because my two sisters will not release her–she is ready to go but no…

    • Daphne says:

      Sad to say, I agree. I think many of the elderly that I know (aunts, uncles, friends’ parents) are now well into their 90s, daily confined to their sick beds, few have even crossed the 100 mark are still “hanging” there (at home) because their children & grandchildren refuse to let them go. Since it is an honorable thing to serve our parents – They quote me “Honor your father & mother…” I don’t know if I should admire their courage & perseverance.

  5. frieda says:

    wow , never thought like that ….wow …thank you very much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! praying this will never be me , holding someone back …..

  6. Sylma says:

    We have moved A LOT, MANY TIMES, over the years. I am a Giver, and community is hugely important to me. Not to mention, relocating this often simply does not make any financial sense. And yet… the more I have sought God for insight into all this moving, the more I have realised: This was all carefully mapped out by God as our adventure or road with Him. Oh, there were always a perfectly good reason for the next move, but I could not help but feel like the Snowflake plant in England, that has to be buried in full bloom this year, so it can bloom again next winter. The Lord has also impressed on us to pray that we receive from the land in every place we have lived, the blessing that the Lord intended to add to our journey, and cleansing and healing those uncomfortable pockets and corners and rented furniture we remember. THIS ABOVE, trying to view our moves through the grid of synchronising with God in time and space/location, this moves me deeply. Just adding another layer of language to it, thank you Arthur.

  7. Sonia says:

    Ouch is so bang on. I just processed this in my heart with God in Sunday night in an area of my life when I was in a community. I gave up something so valuable to me and to God. Ouch hardly covers the pain of the loss. Still waiting to hear what can be done next. Time and space. In my heart, Over my inheritance. With my destiny. So thankful Arthur for these posts.

  8. Noeleen says:

    I think human community can have a bearing on how we respond to God in terms of moving away, geographically or in other ways. Do you think God would describe it in the same way as you (great enemy)? I’m not convinced that he would. I think he made us relational and he understands the pulls and ties that we feel. We may lose out if we hesitate because our time and space isn’t aligned but I think God knows people’s hearts and in the end surely it was his faith that was credited to him as righteousness. Not to say for an instant that it isn’t really important to be aware. I just wonder whether thinking that we need to be braced for punishment when we have been hanging back – especially if it was because of love maybe gives a picture of God that is different to the one I have.

    Is the pain in the ‘ouch’ productive or self-condemning? I think that we need to be moving forward and not living in regret – or not having that mindset of waiting for a whack or assuming that what we felt as a whack was a punishment from God.

  9. Lydia says:

    Oh yes, I totally agree!
    Experienced that a few times in my life….painful, when realizing a given chance is gone forever, no way back…but other people´s emotions can really be confusing and alienate us from hearing our heart

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