From: Jonathan Baker
In reading the passage describing the call of Abram in Genesis 12, I was first struck by Abram's apparent unquestioning obedience; who just picks up and moves? Abram must have been super human, no? But I do not think he was. Abram descended from Noah through Shem, and if fathers passed along stories to their sons, I would guess Abram had some notion of who God was prior to being called. In fact, if we can take the genealogy in ch. 11 at face value--and if I added correctly--Shem would have been alive at the time Abram left Haran and was possibly known to Abram. So Abram may very well have learned directly from Shem about a deity who asked people to do crazy things (Noah...build a huge boat, 'cause I'm gonna make it rain!). Also, Abram's father, Terah, had set out for Canaan from Ur, but settled along the way in Haran. So God's call to go to Canaan may not have sounded totally out of left field to Abram.
Abram's likely knowledge of God and God's call to a place Abram had been heading towards years before with his dad humanize Abram for me a bit, and I think also illuminate something about God's character. I may be on shaky ground here, but it seems like God is somehow leading or guiding Abram into greater and greater acts of faith; the call to sacrifice Isaac did not come first. Abram still has to trust and obey in leaving Haran (which is super hard; moving to a new place is a scary prospect...at least for me), but I wonder if God was asking of Abram for a measure of faith that was somehow possible given Abram's relationship with the Lord at that time. To the extent this is on point, I think it is reasonable to suggest this is how God treats us. That is, leading us into greater and greater acts of faith.
Though I am writing from my childhood home in Northeast Ohio, I have lived in Boston for nearly eight years. I am currently in the final throes of a PhD program in Public Policy at Harvard. I run quite a bit, and also endeavor to keep about 20 plants that really should be living in the desert alive in my frigid Inman Square apartment.