The second part of Genesis 12:4 reads “Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” He’s 75 when he leaves his adopted home.
Abram originally grew up in modern day Iraq. When he young, his father Terah headed west to the city of Haran. Terah was planning to continue to Canan but he never made it. Terah build a home in Haran. When he died, Abram inherited the household. Abram has a home in Haran when God tells him to leave.
The number 75 represents more than just a year in Abram’s life. 75 represents his entire life. When 70 (or 75) years shows up in scripture, we’re seeing a number that represents a lifetime. Scripture uses this number to point to everything this character would have experienced in a life. We are not supposed to be shocked that Abram, at the age of 75, could move to a new country. What is shocking is God telling Abram to give up his life so he can start something new.
I imagine Abram saw Haran as his home. His household, wealth, and workers (slaves and servants) dwelled there. Over the years, he formed deep relationships with the other citizens of Haran. I imagine he knew every shortcut in the city and where to watch the sunrise over the hills. Even though he grew up in ancient Iraq, Abram was a citizen of Haran. By the time he was 75 years old, he was an old timer. He was a mature resident. He was a pillar of the local community. And that’s the moment when God tells Abram to become a stranger.
When Abram leaves Haran, he becomes an alien in the land of Canan. He is a foreigner, without papers, in a land he’s never known. His old life in Haran is behind him. A new life is before him. God has called Abram to be a stranger in a strange land. And that’s what a faithfilled life can look like. This life of faith isn’t always a life of comfort and predictably. Faith sometimes means we will live in strange places with strange people. Yet these journeys will never be journeys without God. Abram goes to Canan because God is with him. We go to wherever God brings us because God is with us too.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 1st Sunday in Lent, 3/12/2017.