Genesis 11:10-26 (NIV) 10 This is the account of Shem. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. 18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters. 22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters. 24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters. 26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
On verses 10-26: In what the author of Genesis calls the account (i.e. the story or genealogy) of Shem (v10), we find a family tree linking Noah’s oldest son Shem to Terah, the father of Abram (later to be known as Abraham). Verses 10 to 26 help us to see the connection between two very important figures in the Old Testament: Noah and Abraham.
In this list of ancestors, a pattern recurs where it says “When this person had lived X years, he became the father of Y, and after he became the father of Y, he lived Z years and had other sons and daughters.” Notice that the author of Genesis starts counting years of a person’s life based on when they became a father to their first born. What can we learn from this? For me it’s a subtle reminder that God made us to bear fruit. I’m not just talking about reproducing children of your own; rather I’m talking about what kind of fruit you are reproducing with your life.
Remember the commission God gave Adam and later Noah: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” (see Genesis 9:1) In other words, God is interested in who you are reproducing and what you are filling the earth with. What kind of people are you reproducing and what kind of fruit are you bearing with your life? God made us to bear fruit. I pray that, whether it’s in our homes, churches, ministries, workplaces or communities, you and I would reproduce leaders who worship Jesus, are growing more like Jesus, are serving Jesus, are leading others to Jesus and are loving their church family.
Notice also that lifespans of individuals mentioned in Genesis appear to be getting shorter.
Genesis 11:27-32 (NIV) 27 This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no children. 31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.
On verses 27-32: These verses are called “the account of Terah”, that is, the story of Abram’s dad Terah. Because it is Abram’s dad’s story, in many ways the painful and difficult events described in these verses form the backdrop to Abram’s own story. First, notice that Terah lost a son and Abram lost a brother called Haran. Second, Abram’s wife Sarai was barren and could not have children. Third, at his father Terah’s insistence, Abram and his family decided to move from the place where their brother Haran had died but instead of going as planned to Canaan, they move instead to a city, also called Haran (v31). As anyone who has ever moved to a new city has experienced, Abram and his family most likely encountered many challenges trying to adjust to life in a new place.
What can we learn from this? These painful and difficult events in the lives of Terah and his son Abram would form the backdrop to the incredible story and amazing miracles God would make possible in Abram’s life. Likewise, if all you can see right now in your life are great challenges, uncertainties and the pain of losing someone you love, know that God is writing a greater story through those challenges, uncertainties and pain than you could imagine. The pain of our past is the backdrop to a greater, more glorious story God is writing with our lives.
Heavenly Father, thank You that while the pain, worry and frustration we feel in life is real, help us to remember that You are writing a greater story through our pain than anything we could write ourselves. Since You call us to be fruitful, to multiply and to fill the earth, I pray that what I produce in and through my life would be pleasing to You and that You would use to fill the earth with good things. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!