A good beginning is good, but it’s not good enough. We don’t get credit for just starting. Our goal should be to finish well. That is the message taught in Hebrews 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. It is also a message taught in the genealogies of Genesis 11:10-32.
Genesis 11:10 begins the account of Shem and those that follow him. It is to the line of Shem that God’s divine promises would be delivered. The age of the people listed in this genealogy when they die rapidly begins to decrease compared to the pre-flood life spans. The age of child bearing also drops down to the late 20’s and early 30’s.
But something unusual happens with Terah. It is not explained why, but Terah has his children when he is 70 years old, which is more in line with a pre-flood child bearing age. And in verse 27 we see that the following section is going to be the account of Terah.
Why is this the account of Terah? Shouldn’t it be the account of Abram? It is to Abram whom God makes a covenant and the promise of a great nation as his descendants. Most of the following story is about Abram, not Terah.
Look at Genesis 11:31. It was Terah who took his family out of Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. Chapter 12 begins with God calling Abram to travel to the place that God would show him, but the journey began with Terah. Terah was the one who started out with his family towards the land that God would show. But he stopped.
Terah had a good beginning. He set out towards a promised land, but he stopped and settled for less. He stopped and settled in Haran and died there. He never made it to the end. Terah’s good beginning was not enough.
Abram finishes the journey. Abram remains faithful to God’s call and, in spite of stumbles along the way, he finishes well. He is remembered as the father of a nation and is recounted even today as the father of our faith. What would have been Terah’s fate if he had persevered as Abram did in his place?
This messages was recorded on September 2, 1992 in the chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.