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Stewards: Terah - a bad steward

By Charlie Osewalt | 2 May 2013

Stewardship Stewards Series - Terah

“Are you settled in yet? How are you and Priscilla settling in? Are you sorting things out?“

Following our move to the United Kingdom from New York City, kindly Brits have asked this ‘settling’ question of me more then a few times. (This is one of the key differences between a Brit and a NYC native: the seasoned New Yorker never asks if you are settled in. It is understood that isn’t happening till the end of a lifetime).

Yes, we are settling in. Yet, I worry about ever getting too comfortable. I hope I always go where the Lord desires me to be. I never want to ‘settle’.

Terah, Abram’s father, settled for Haran and is a bad steward as a result. Terah is so obscure in bible history that most people don’t know who he is.  His name in Microsoft Word spell check always comes up underlined in red. Even though he is Abram’s father, he is not known. Abram is known primarily by his God-given new name, Abraham. This illustrates a core fact of Abraham’s life: he was a man of faith. God, as his father, renames him Abraham and calls him to be a father of many nations.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God….And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11: 8-10; 12

Terah was called before his son Abram was called. He left his home and family in the city of Ur for the land of Canaan.

This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. 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: 27-30

Note verse 31: But when they came to Haran, they settled there.  Haran is actually half way from Ur to Canaan. Terah moved from his home and set out leaving part of his family (his son, Nahor and Nahor’s wife, Milkah). He was supposed to go to Canaan.  He never made it to where he was called to. Why? The writer of Genesis gives us a clue that this is a failure through the two words, “but” and “settled.” They speak not only about Terah but to and about us.

 What am I settling for? What are my “buts” when I can’t do or finish something? Do I really believe in my journey, no matter how long and tiring and difficult? Am I “settled?”

Whether Terah was weary of travel; in love with Haran; or lazy, the point is he settled for Haran. He never went where he was called to go. He didn’t follow through. In contrast, Abram, after his father’s death was told by the Lord, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show up. Genesis 12:1

He didn’t know where he was going, except it was the land the Lord desired him and his descendants to possess. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11: 8.

He went by faith. He found out later it was Canaan, his father Terah’s original destination. The place Terah never got to.

Is ‘only going half way’ as bad as not starting at all?

Want to go deeper? You can download the PDF below for more:

 

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt

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