I am in the middle of a book about Abraham.
Abraham is the ancestral father of all Israel. Indeed, he is our adopted father as well! (See Romans 11:17-18)
Three major faith traditions find their roots in Abraham. Judaism and Christianity through Isaac the son of Abraham. Of course as a Christian, we are adopted into this family tree by Jesus. Islam through Ishmael the other son of Abraham.
Abraham is a major figure in history and faith!
God called Abraham to move to Canaan (future Israel) from a city called Ur (located in future Iraq).
God’s first promise to Abraham was this: “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.” Genesis 12:2-3
As you know, all these promises have come to fruition.
Blessing often means God’s favor. God even promises that the entire world will receive God’s favor through Abraham and not in Abraham. We know that Jesus was a descendent of Abraham and everyone in the world can receive God’s blessing (favor) by trusting in Jesus.
When Abraham arrived in Canaan, God gave his second promise to him. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7
A nation, a blessing and a land. All come to pass…eventually.
In the very next verse, something interesting happens. But if you don’t look closely, you could miss it.
From there Abraham went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8
Did you catch it? I missed it the first time.
Abraham makes camp between two towns. Bethel and Ai.
The definition of these town names is important. Bethel means “House of God” and Ai means “Ruins.”
Although the author of Genesis was giving us details regarding Abraham’s camp site. I can’t help but wonder if there is a message for us in that verse.
We struggle to remain faithful in this life. We have good days and we have selfish, bad days. Martin Luther declares that we are both saint and sinner and I couldn’t agree with him more!
It is like we too are camped out between the “House of God” and the town of “Ruins.” Both towns are calling out to us and beckoning us to come closer. Which voice will we respond to?
I’d like to think I’d choose Bethel (The House God). But there is also a part of me that is selfish, makes bad decision and hear the appealing call of Ai (Ruins) to draw near.
That is our life. Thanks be to God for Jesus who forgives our ruinous behavior and invites over to his house for bread and wine.