For the week of October 19, 2002 / 13 Heshvan 5763
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27 - 41:16
To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before
The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you" (Bereshit / Genesis 12:3).
Many of us find the pioneering spirit intriguing. We ourselves may not be pioneers or adventurers, but are still excited by the stories of those who have headed out to discover new places and face unknown challenges.
The Torah is built on the foundation of a pioneer. The message of the whole Bible has as a primary model one who broke new ground, charted unknown territory, one who boldly went where no one had gone before.
One of the key ingredients of the pioneer life is the leaving of the familiar and the known to journey into the unfamiliar and the unknown. God told Abraham to leave his homeland and go to what would one day become the Land of Israel. He spent the rest of his life living as a wandering nomad among foreigners, without the normal support systems that he would have been accustomed to in his homeland.
The journey that God called Abraham on was not only geographical in nature. The lack of natural support in a strange land helped to set the stage for the greater adventures he would face there. Abraham was to discover new worlds of God's reality through the life circumstances he would encounter.
I hesitate to say that Abraham's adventures were fundamentally spiritual in nature, because that conjures up in our minds non-tangible, other worldly notions. Biblical spirituality is not divorced from our earthly existence. The issues that Abraham would be dealing with were very earthly – conflicts with the peoples of the land, living though famine, his difficulty in having children, and so on.
Abraham's adventures into the unknown cleared the path for us to truly know the God of the universe – the God who desires to be reconciled with his beloved human creatures. Abraham's life is a model for us to see that we can really know God in this life. Abraham shows us that the reality of heaven invades human existence, that God communicate with people, and that we can depend on him.
Abraham shows us that we too can go where few have gone before, that we need not be controlled by the normal limitations of life. When God speaks to us and says, "Leave the familiar and the known. Let me take you to places that you never dreamed of," he can be trusted to guide us and take care of us.
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