1. What did a reliable promise influence the common forefather of Arabs and Israelites to make of himself?
A GOOD promise, made by a reliable person, can influence the receiver to take rewarding action. All for the sake of a promise, how many of us today would be willing to become an alien, a man without a country, in a foreign land, for a hundred years? Amazingly, we have the historical record of just such a course! It is the case of a man from whom the Arabs claim descent, as well as their blood relatives, the Israelites. This common forefather of theirs received a promise the carrying out of which affects the whole human family for everlasting good.
2. Why did the realization of that promise call for action on the receiver’s part?
2 The realization of this world-important promise called for action, as the promissory statement from God said: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you;
3. As respects a promise, in what way is Abraham of Ur of the Chaldeans an example to us?
3 How thankful all of us who belong to “the families of the ground” can be that the receiver of the promise, Abram of Ur of the Chaldeans, trustfully took the prescribed action! Abram (later called Abraham) is an example to us in the way of taking due action to realize a promise that Abraham’s God makes to us.
4. How long was Abraham a man without a country in the land of Canaan; also his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob?
4 When Abraham was seventy-five years old, he entered the Promised Land, then a country foreign to him. He died at the age of one hundred and seventy-five years. On this account he was a man without a country for a whole century—quite a time. His son Isaac, born to him in this foreign land not yet given to Abraham, was likewise a man without a country, but for even a longer period of time—for one hundred and eighty years. Isaac’s son, Jacob, to whom the divine promise was passed along, was a man without a country for one hundred and thirty years before he was called down to Egypt, where he died. (Gen. 47:7-9; 49:33) Yet, at his own request, this patriarch of one hundred and forty-seven years of age was buried in the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.—Gen. 50:1-14.
5 What was it that strengthened those three patriarchs to hold on in a foreign land and not to return to Ur of the Chaldeans? What helped them to endure in the alien land of Canaan for two hundred and fifteen years (1943 to 1728 B.C.E.) all together? It was their faith in Jehovah God and in the reliability of his unbreakable promise. To this effect we read, in Hebrews 11:9, 10, 13-16:
6 “By faith he [Abraham] resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God. In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. For those who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that place from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”
7. How did Abraham make himself an undesirable person in the neighborhood of his birth, and what kind of “city” did he want?
7 Abraham, as an example to his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, was determined to die abroad rather than shrink back from his assignment and return to his native city, Ur of the Chaldeans. That pagan city being in the land of Shinar, Abraham even made himself an unwelcome person there in that neighborhood, because he pursued and put to rout four confederate kings from that area. These were Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim. Abraham and his troops despoiled those kings of all the valuable things and captives that they had seized during their invasion of the land of Canaan. (Gen. 14:1-24; Heb. 7:1) No longer did Abraham want Ur of the Chaldeans as his residential city. He renounced it. He preferred to live as a nomad in the Promised Land, desiring something better than that idolatrous, sinful city of his birth. Rather than a man-made city, Abraham, as well as Isaac and Jacob, wanted a city or government of which his God is the Builder and Maker. The foundations of Ur of the Chaldeans lie in ruins today, but not so God’s “city.”