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Nathan

Fathering Your Son Toward His Legacy

February 6, 2017
Nathan Thompson

I am someone who refuses to believe that things happen on accident.

Nope. Never. Not gonna hear it.

To declare that things happen accidentally is to say that God is not all-powerful. That is something I cannot believe. I have seen too many accidents-turned-miracles.

God is an intentional God. When we understand this, we see life situations - even situations we don’t understand, or situations that seem threatening to us - in a much different light.

I believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, and that He is the keeper of those Words. I believe that every word in Scripture is placed there on purpose because God is an intentional God.

For instance, read Genesis 11:31 below.

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (the son of Haran), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and with them he set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. When they came to Haran, they settled there.” - Genesis 11:31 NET

The Bible is relaying the story of a major event in Terah’s life within the context of one verse. Beyond the names of family members, what does God choose to include in this one verse?

  1. That Terah TOOK his son Abram and his family on a journey.
  2. That Terah SET OUT from Ur to go to Canaan.

When you don’t believe in accidents, the question you ask yourself next is, “Why is that there?

I won’t be as presumptuous as to tell you that, “I know why,” or “I have some sort of secret insight that no one else has,” but I will offer you some simple thoughts that I hope will resonate within you as a man, a son, or a father.

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Terah in the Bible

Terah is a man that receives little mention in the Bible. The Scriptures tell us that Terah was the father of the Father of the Faithful - Abraham. As I acknowledged in “Fathering A Faith Journey,” the Bible also mentions that Terah “served other gods” in Joshua 24:2. Also, as mentioned above, Genesis 11 states that Terah led his family away from their home, Ur of the Chaldeans, toward Canaan, the land that his son Abraham would be promised as an inheritance from God.

Another area in Scripture where Terah receives an indirect reference is in Acts 7. As Stephen begins his address to the Jewish religious leaders that will kill him with stones just 50-odd verses later, he references Terah as he relays the story of Abraham and the origins of God’s covenant with the nation of Israel.

Other than genealogies, these are the only references to Terah in the Bible.

Terah the Man

If you’re not one that likes to give people the benefit of the doubt, you may want to skip to the next section. I am not one that falls into the “Terah was a hopeless heathen” camp. Yes, the Bible says that he worshiped false gods, and that is not a good thing, but if you find yourself reaching for some stones, my statement to you would be, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…”

Did Terah have a problem with sin? Absolutely. But as Paul so succinctly states in Romans 3:23, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Idolatry, as Kyle Idleman so aptly points out in his book, “gods At War,” is at the basis of all sin. Let us never be too quick to forget that it’s Jesus’ sacrifice, blood, forgiveness and grace that makes up the gap between us and heaven’s standard of righteousness.

No, I’m not willing to throw Terah out with the bathwater. I’m in the camp that says that Terah was an imperfect man in need of God, just like each one of us, and I think that means he’s worth taking a deeper look at.

Terah the Father

I believe that studying Terah in his role as a father can offer Godly fathers some helpful insights.

1. Terah Rejected Passivity

When you read the Genesis account, the Bible says that it was Terah, not Abraham, that was responsible for the family’s physical journey toward Canaan, Israel’s Promised Land and eventual home. This is something that we cannot afford to overlook.

As men created in the image of God, I believe that there are certain values that our Creator has hardwired into us. Nearly every man I’ve met - even the passive ones - carry a deep sense within that they are to be a protector, provider and leader for their family. (Unfortunately, being aware and acting on that awareness are two different things.)

At some point, we as men have to make the conscious decision to reject our passive nature, and take responsibility for the life, purpose, and family that God has entrusted us with. This does not happen accidentally. Geographical moves like the one that Terah embarked on require nothing short of intentionality. We cannot overlook the fact that instead of doing nothing, Terah took action.

2. Terah Recognized His Son’s Legacy

2And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. - Acts 7:2-4

Stephen’s account in Acts 7 seems to credit Abraham with the IDEA of moving from Ur of the Chaldeans, not Terah. In fact, it goes as far as to say that God spoke to Abraham while he was still in Ur of the Chaldeans, before his father (per the Genesis account) moved his family to Haran.

Instead of pitting the two accounts against one another (it is impossible for God to lie), why not try to put the story together simply using what Scripture gives us?

This is what we know:

  • Terah and his son Abraham and family lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. (Genesis and Acts)
  • God speaks to Abraham while still living in Ur. (Acts)
  • Terah took his family from Ur with the goal of ending up in Canaan (Genesis), and Abraham and his family move with Terah. (Genesis and Acts) The age of Abraham or Terah at the time of this move is Scripturally unspecified.
  • They all make it as far as Haran, where Terah dies.
  • Abraham departs from Haran (Genesis) to finish the pilgrimage to Canaan at age 75. (This is preceded by God speaking to Abraham and prompting him to leave Haran. Whether this is God speaking to Abraham in a separate instance, or this is the same instance that Stephen is referencing in Acts seems unclear.)

Fathers, when it comes to recognizing your son’s legacy (God’s purpose for his life) you’ll find that listening is key. There are too many disenfranchised sons because they fell out of their father’s graces by disappointing him when they chose a life path that didn’t fit their father’s personal (not talking about God-ordained here) preferences. God’s plan for your son may not fit your expectations. It’s wise to prepare for that.

When we view the Biblical accounts of Terah and Abraham in chronological order, we must acknowledge that the Bible states that God’s purpose for Abraham’s life was delivered to him when he was still “at home” in Ur. How is it then that Genesis states that it was Terah that “took” his family to journey toward Canaan?

The logical answer is communication and acknowledgement.

At some point, Abraham would’ve had to communicate God’s spoken plan for his life to his father. The fact that his father then led Abraham and his family toward the culmination of the plan points to the obvious: Terah valued God’s call upon his son, he valued his son enough to listen to him, and valued what he had to say enough to act.

Optimistically stated, I’ve yet to find a father who deep down inside doesn’t want to see his son succeed, and that’s exactly what I see when I look at the story of Terah and Abraham. I see an imperfect, but good-willed father who recognized that an All-Powerful God had spoken to his son and revealed that He had enormous plans for him. I see a father who acknowledged that his son was destined by God to do great things; a father who recognized his son’s legacy.

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3. Terah Lifted His Son Toward His Legacy

As I read the story of Terah and Abraham in chronological sequence, I can’t help but recall a very special moment in my early twenties when my father told me something that I’ll never forget.

“Nathan, the goal for me as your father is to have you stand on my shoulders. I want you to be able to stand upon my accomplishments, my successes. I want you to begin your adult life much farther along than I did at your age.” (The blessing of Ephriam and Mannasseh.)

Beyond modeling for me what a faith journey looked like, my dad has made it his goal to hoist me up on his shoulders, to use his strength and life experience to propel me into places beyond the realms that he has walked. It is his goal - as I believe it should be every father’s goal - to see me accomplish things that he’ll never do. That’s the heart of a good father: to recognize God’s plan for his son and to propel him into it.

Words fail me in my attempt to explain how this empowers my heart, mind and spirit as a son and as a man.

When I read in Scripture that it was Terah that started the journey, but Abraham that finally finished it, I see a father who stood his son up on his shoulders and said, “Son, I believe in you. I believe in God’s purpose for your life. There’s no way that I alone can take you that high, but I’ll let you stand on my shoulders.”

When Terah died in Haran, his son Abraham was halfway to his goal of Canaan.

Beyond Your Shoulders

As I’ve alluded, Terah wasn’t perfect. Thank God that’s not the benchmark for raising strong, Godly sons.

Fathers, you have an incredible responsibility and opportunity to raise sons whose legacies are firmly planted in Christ. I encourage you to personally reject passivity and intentionally invest in their development. I implore you to intimately communicate with your son(s). Find out what they love. Find out what God’s telling them about their future. Create a safe place to engage them in conversation and listen to them share their hearts. And finally, when it’s time for them to step into the greatness of God’s purpose for their lives, may it be upon your shoulders, with your support and your blessing.

No, you can’t do it for your son(s), and you will probably not see the culmination of God’s great promises for them on this side of eternity, but you can rest assured knowing that when you’re gone they’ll still have a Father who will lead them on.


For HIS Kingdom Always,

Nathan Thompson




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