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Points to Ponder: Did You Die in Haran?

Points to Ponder
Did You Die in Haran?

Abraham (originally named Abram) is the role model so many look to when it comes to trusting God and following His command, even though the outcome or destiny is unrevealed. God told him to leave his country and family - all of his earthly securities - and follow God "to a land I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). Abram obeys and by faith becomes the father of the future nation of Israel.
But I wonder if it really began with Abram. The previous chapter reveals that his father Terah had it in his mind already to head for Canaan (the land to which God would later take Abram). The complex details are not revealed, but something happened that stopped Terah in his tracks.
At age 70, Terah had three sons (Abram, Nahor, and Haran) and lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. His youngest boy died, leaving a son, Lot (Genesis 11:27-29). Terah then packed up his family to move on to Canaan, stopping along the way at Haran. Was the place named after his dead son? Or was his son named after this place? I tend to believe the former. Plus, since the time of Noah following the flood and the repopulation on the earth, this is the first incident of a son predeceasing his father (Genesis 11:28). Imagine Terah's devastation, to suffer this loss. Did grief so paralyze him that he could not leave the memorial he had named for his son? Was it put on his heart earlier by God to move on to Canaan, but he lost motivation? Who knows? But the scripture says he lived 205 years; perhaps half of those years following Haran's death.
Did he miss a possible calling from God? If he had made it to Canaan, would biblical history be markedly different? It's just a pondering, a subject for speculation with no known answer on this side of heaven. "Terah died in Haran" (Genesis 11:32). Maybe when his son Haran died, Terah in a sense died as well. Who can comprehend the deep grief of a parent whose child precedes him/her in death? Only another parent who has been there can understand.
I recall visiting a cemetery in Virginia, where many soldiers are buried. One obelisk-style tombstone included the name of a young Union soldier who had died in the Civil War, along with the names of his parents. The parents had lived many years after they'd buried their son; however, they carved onto his marker, "Our hope is gone." I remember standing by that grave and thinking of how deep their pain must have been. To have those words carved in stone gave such permanence to their grief. I could only wonder what kind of lives they led and if they ever dreamed again after they placed that marker there. I suppose we count on our children to carry on the dreams and possibilities of our own lives; but if they die, we assume that in some way we die as well. When anything vital to our own identity is gone, where do we go?
Would Terah have been called on by God to take the steps of faith his son, Abram, later did? Or was the loss of his son, Haran, so crushing, that he would not listen for God's voice nor seek His direction? Yes, speculation. We can't watch Oprah or Dr. Phil interviewing Terah so we can "feel his pain." There's no tell-all book out there to give us "the rest of the story' as Paul
Harvey might say, dramatically telling the untold story of why Terah never made it to Canaan. The exclusive Larry King interview is never going to happen. It's all speculation and interesting to ponder.
But what about you? Has some tragic event in your life sidelined you? Were you on the way to somewhere only to have your spiritual tires flattened; are you stuck in Haran at the memorial of what might have been?
How is it that the limitations of this life (which are many and are inevitable) stop us from the eternal possibilities of what God could do with us if we let Him? Isn't this why John 3:16 is so powerful?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
That God gave his only Son is a powerful statement of God's self-giving love. Certainly as God, He could have devised some other way to bring the plan of salvation to the world. The wise people of this age keep trying to make up a way that suits their sensibilities. But His incredible sacrifice - a Father giving over to death His only Son; and this Son willingly laying down His life for the sake of those who despise both Him and His Father (Romans 5:8), speaks volumes about the love and grace of God. The painful, humiliating death of the Son; the incredible grief of the Father - why did God put God's Self through all of that? To say, "I love you." To say, "I understand your pain." Perhaps also to say to those who will believe and trust Him: "Don't die in Haran. I have come to give you life (John 10:10). Let's go on to the next step." It's just a point to ponder . . .

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at

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