Thou art the Lord the God who didst choose Abram and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham. Nehemiah 9:7
Joy wasn't visible when I entered the Oak Street Bible Shop. Gary was there behind the counter. He was counting the bills in the register, there weren't many.
Sue was hanging up plaques. She reached to put one up above the rest. "Only one life, it will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." It was painted on a piece of glass and hung by a chain.
"My grandmother had one just like this on her wall", said Sue quietly.
"Joy is in the basement," said Gary, catching my glance at her usual place by the door. "She's opening boxes of new books," he explained.
"She smokes down there," said Sue with a little smile. “I was out watering the iris, like she told me one day. I was turning on the water and I saw her light up through the basement window."
"Well, she wasn't always a goody-goody Baptist," said Gary. "She used to tend bar for her father in his saloon until she got saved. She's come a long way since those days, and it’s really hard to quit smoking." We looked at him when he said this. "That's just what I hear," he added quickly.
"I know,", said Sue. "But she's always supposed to be so holy and everything."
Just as she said this, Joy pushed open the basement door and emerged with a stack of books between her hands.
"I was just opening some boxes." She looked hard at Sue, as if she had heard what she said. "And this was in one of them." She put the big book down on the glass counter top. "You might be interested in this, Glen," she called.
He came out of the back room holding a copy of Daniel and the Latter Days, his newest acquisition.
"It's about Biblical archaeology," she continued.
We all gathered around the counter. There wasn't much room in the shop; it was so filled with shelves and stands.
Sue reached out with her little hands and turned the big volume so we could see it better. Her touch was so gentle. She treated every book as if it was a little baby; her fingers barely touched the pages.
Glen watched silently as she turned past the introduction and then found the illustrations. "Look at that one," he exclaimed. "That's Ur, the city of Abraham!"
Glen lost his cool when he talked about anything related to the Bible lands, especially if it dealt with prophecy. We had all seen him tremble with excitement over a new find, like this. He was no longer the quiet Columbo character that Joy had named him.
"Look at that caption!” The picture showed a part of Ur, recently uncovered. There was a row of brick buildings perfectly preserved. "These could be buildings in downtown Cincinnati!” he said with excitement. “They even translated the name on the street sign," he said. "Quiet Street".
"I'll bet it's quiet now," said Joy. "It is amazing they have found Abraham's city. But that's all past now," she said. "Why the avid interest?"
Glen was in his element. He was not hunched over now. "But that's just it, Joy. It's not just in the past. Ur of the Chaldees is coming back some day. What you see here is just the beginning!"
"It's back and it's bigger than ever!”said Gary in his radio announcer s voice.
"Laugh while you can," said Glen. "Ur is in Iraq and Iraq is really Babylon. You all know Babylon will someday rule the world. The Chaldeans are a really ancient people, and Babylon is the name of the nation that came out of them. I'm telling you this stuff is coming back and you should know about it and be ready."
Sue spoke up with some hesitation. "Well, if Abraham came from Babylon...”
"If'?” said Glen.
"Well, ok, since Abraham did come from Chaldea which is really Babylon, what does that make Abraham? Are you saying he was a Babylonian?"
"Everybody has to come from someplace," quipped Gary, still trying to lighten things up a bit.
Glen ignored this. “I’m not saying it Sue," he continued. “The Bible says it. Here is one of the greatest men in all the Bible, and he was from Babylon, the city that is always opposed to God's people.”
Now Joy spoke. "Yes, but Abraham was FROM Babylon, or Chaldea.” She emphasized the word "from". “God is always calling people from someplace and sending them to where they should be, where he wants them to be. It's amazing how many times in the Bible it emphasizes how he takes people from some place."
"Or some condition," said Sue.
"That's right, Sue," said Joy, with a rare tenderness in her voice. "I hate to tell you how many people I ruined with the liquor I served in my father's bar. But the Lord called me away from all that, and now I'm trying to work for Him every day."
We were silent for a time. A lot had been said, inspired by the pictures from a book about Ur. We were all in agreement. The Lord calls you out. It is not important where you were. What matters is where you are going.
"Abraham left, and so did everybody else, eventually," said Glen. "At least from this city. But I'm telling you, Babylon will be rebuilt and it will be the center of world religion and wealth."
"But I always thought Rome was Babylon," said Joy, the former Catholic. "Even the old Catholic Bible says so.”
"If it is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, it is," said Glen. “You have to respect Bible geography," he said with emphasis. "God gives us locations on the map, so you know where these places are. The Bible is very geographical."
Sue was still looking at the photographs. "Look at the railroad!"
"The British built that," said Glen. "They marked out Iraq with a blue pencil on the world map and they appointed so-called kings, but God will have the final say about this land, after the Devil has his last stand."
"This railroad sign says ‘Ur Junction’," said Sue. "Maybe that is where everybody got on to leave Babylon?"
"And maybe that is where they'll get off when they return?" said Glen.