"...finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me..."We end how Abraham began—a phrase I have always found humorous. What could Abraham possibly mean by "greater...rest"? If we look at Abraham’s life, we see that this is both an understatement and a very strange definition.
As an understatement, we have to look at the context of the verse: Abraham has chosen to leave his father’s house in Ur and pursue a path that will lead him to Jehovah. If we remember that Abraham had narrowly escaped being sacrificed to his own father’s gods—a fate that apparently Abraham’s brother suffered—then we might say that for Abraham, things could only get easier. So "greater happiness and peace and rest" might simply mean "getting away from my filicidal dad."
But this is not how Abraham is thinking. First, he takes his father with him. Second, he is clearly not referring to getting away from a rotten former life but instead he is describing how he views the life that lay ahead. What I find so interesting is that Abraham makes this statement after living the post-Ur life; i.e. this is Abraham looking back over his life and calling it happy, peaceful, and restful.
A reminder of some of the events in Abraham’s life will show why this is noteworthy. During Abraham's life he:
• Flees from drought
• Wanders as a stranger in Canaan
• Fears he will be killed in Egypt
• Goes to battle against a huge army
• Sees his son-in-law’s family get nearly destroyed
• Goes without children until he is well over 60 years old
• Is told to sacrifice his own son
• Toils to make a living where he owns no land
• Expels one of his own sons from his household
Abraham’s life was filled with events that we would normally call hardships, trials, or challenges, yet he remembers the walk up the mount with Isaac and the expulsion of Ishmael as "happy"; he looks back on the conflicts with Pharaoh, Abimelech, and the conquerors of Sodom and calls it "peace"; he recalls the miles and miles of travel, travel, travel in search of the land of his inheritance and he calls it "rest." Was Abraham crazy, or was he just blessed with wisdom to see the good in the bad he had experienced?
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).Incidentally, there is only one other verse in the scriptures that uses this combination of words (Alma 40: 12):
"And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow."
This concludes my series on Abraham 1:2. If you followed the series and liked the way it was published, please let me know. If you found it annoying (ie. you would have preferred to have it all at once) let me know as well. Thanks.