Has God ever taken you on the long route to a promised blessing or leading? You could see a faster way, but instead off you went in almost the opposite direction. Maybe you are in the middle of one now.
Below is a quick summary of Abraham’s long-way-round journey from Ur to Canaan.
Let us know about your long journey (or journeys) in a comment, please.
The 11th chapter of Genesis tells us the story of the Tower of Babel and the journey of Terah along with his son Abraham with his wife Sarai and Terah’s grandson Lot. For reasons not specified in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans (present-day southern Iraq) to Canaan on the Mediterranean coast. We can only speculate as to why Terah did this but a peek at the location and political situation in Mesopotamia at that time would give us clues why he would take his family elsewhere. (For a better picture of Bible events and location, refer to the Holy Land Map in conjunction with this article.)
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Ur was a place of upheavals and it was under constant attack from hostile neighbors during the time of the patriarchs, so leaving the city for a more peaceful land would have been a more feasible choice for Terah and his family. Another possibility is that Terah may have recognized and worshiped the true God while Ur was a city full of people who were devoted to the Sumerian moon god Nanna (or Sin in Akkadian). We can see a problem in their beliefs if this is the case which may have driven Terah and his family to leave Ur.
Shorter Desert Route versus Longer River Route
Whatever the reason, Terah never reached his original destination of Canaan and they settled instead in Haran (present-day southern Turkey) where he died.
If we look at the map of modern day Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, and Israel, a journey from east to west through the Arabian desert would have been the shorter route. Terah and his family, however, took the longer route by following the Euphrates river upstream towards Haran. This makes more sense rather than making the journey across a perilous desert.
External factors that may put their life at risk during the desert journey include a lack of reliable sources of water, intense heat, constant temperature changes, and unpredictable sandstorms. Lack of food can also be a problem in a sparsely vegetated land while dangerous insects and animals also pose a threat. Bandits preying on passing vulnerable caravans also endangered their lives. There may have also been established routes throughout Mesopotamia that followed the Euphrates, so northwards to Haran is the better and safer choice.
Onward to Canaan
Abraham’s family settled in Haran for many years until Terah died at the age of 205, then God called Abraham to go and continue the journey to Canaan. We can only surmise as to what drove their family to settle in Haran temporarily (whether it’s the town’s prosperity or relative peace), but to uproot himself and his family from a familiar land to live in another which was inhabited by people whose customs and gods differ from his can be unsettling.
He was 75 years old at that time and moving was not an easy task especially in his age. But this time, the command to move to Canaan came with a blessing explicitly stated in Genesis 12:2-3. So he packed all their belongings and journeyed again, reaching Shechem in Canaan first, then the hills of Bethel, and finally south to the Negev.
Our Own Long River Route
Abraham was often held as one whose faith and obedience shined brightly among the other characters in the Bible. The material and spiritual blessings that followed his obedience were well-documented, and he is recognized as someone Christians should emulate in faith.
We also take journeys, literally and spiritually (just like Abraham) and make hard decisions that will significantly impact our lives. Making the right choices (such as who to marry or whether to move to another city to pursue a leading) takes a lot of faith in God. The question is do we trust God enough to lead us out of our Ur of the Chaldeans and take us to a better place which He promised us? Do we take the shorter yet perilous desert route or do we have the patience to take the longer river route? Do we trust in our own intelligence or do we seek God first for His word in our decision-making process?
In your life, has God led you to the longer river route and how did it become a blessing? Comment below, please.