Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth [oak] tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. – Genesis 12:6-7
The italicized paragraphs below are a compilation of outlines and message notes from Brother Titus’s speaking:
After a long and hard journey from Haran, Abram reached the land of Canaan. His first stop while passing through the land was Shechem, which means “shoulder,” “strength.”
You know, brothers, to follow the Lord, you go step by step. The first journey from Ur to Haran is an easy journey, but then the blessing of the Lord makes it more difficult to follow him. You always have a hard part of your journey. You ask, “Lord, are You real? Do I have enough strength? Can I go back to the world?” Yet for some reason, Abram went on. It’s hard, very hard.
There was a time when I had hard struggling for quite a few years. One brother told me, “If the Lord doesn’t use me, I’m going to get a job.” Another brother said, “I’ve been in the church life for six years already!” In other words, why don’t you make me a leader? It was so hard. I was so pressured that I wondered if I should get a job. Many times, I wondered if it was even possible for it to be worth it. Can I carry this? Can I bear this yoke? This is too much! But for some reason, I said this: “I cannot go back.” In principle, you cannot go back. Then, for some reason, you suddenly find that doors are opened! You find that the Lord has brought you into a wealthy land called Shechem. Brothers, I don’t know how I survived. But I realized that there was some strength here. That strength told me, “Go on, you can be strong.” That is Shechem.
At Shechem, the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “to your descendants I will give this land.” He had finally reached “the place that I [God] will show you.” It was no longer somewhere remote and distant; it was right in front of him. It was “this land.” After God appeared to Abram, he built an altar to the Lord. Abram was strengthened, encouraged, and able to give himself to the Lord in a new way.
In Shechem, Abraham can declare that he could trust in the Lord. He could boldly declare God’s five promises which he received in Haran: (1) “I will make you a great nation” (2) “I will bless you and make your name great” (3) “And so you shall be a blessing” (4) “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (5) “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” He finally got a touch, a taste of the promised land. Something solid. You finally have the assurance that you are handling Christ. You need this land. So Abram builds an altar there. Abram didn’t build an altar in Ur or in Haran. But in Shechem, when he has this land, he builds an altar. He consecrates himself. This is where he says, “Lord, I give myself to You.” He offers himself, his family, whatever he had, and the land God gave him back to God Himself.
Similarly, in our Christian journey Shechem is a joyful yet merciful experience. It is not that the Lord suddenly gives us strength to overcome, but that in our weakness, and day by day, we experience the Lord as our strength and are somehow able to follow Him more and more.
The strength is interesting. The strength should be the strength of growth. Growth is an interesting thing. When did you ever feel like you grew taller? A healthy growth is interesting. Everyday, I gain strength for God. I pray. I preach the gospel a little. I read the Word of God. I spend time with the brothers and sisters. Each day, you may feel weak, but eventually you look back and see that you grew! You are able to follow the Lord! There is a song that says, “Each day let Thy supporting might, my weakness still embrace.” When you enjoy the love of the Lord, when you are drawn by the love of the Lord, it’s not clear that that is equal to strength. You may never wake up and feel, “I have so much strength, I can follow the Lord!” But yet, day by day you find you do have the strength to just come to Christ.
May we be those who tell the Lord, “I want to experience you as Shechem. I want You to be my divine strength. In all of my struggling and serving, I’d like You to be my only strength and supply.”