The Sacrific of Isaac
I have asked this question before but I must ask it again – “What is your greatest hope in life?” This is a vital question...
Genesis 22:1-19 (NIV)
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
First – It's important to know that God tests us but does not tempt us (James 1:13). Temptation is designed to destroy us. Testing is designed to help us become who we were meant to be. While God accomplishes more than we will ever know; I'd like to mention two things:
Testing is designed to show us who we are
Testing is designed to “prove” God and move us toward deeper loyalty
Testing is meant to move us into harmoney with God's vision. Testing, experiencially brings us into a walk-by-faith life. As was true in Abraham's life, testing makes us fit to be used by God to accomplish his work. Testing is meant to move us closer to the image of Jesus. We should know that God's testing is an act of love, meant for good.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Notice Abraham's reply to God's calling – “Here I am.” Some of you know what's coming next. God is going to ask Abraham to do the unimaginable. In many situations Abraham has seen that his self-determined actions end in desaster. But here, finally, Abraham has come to the point where he rests in the reality that God is God and he is not. So when God calls, Abraham responds, “here I am”.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah (this location could actually have been the place ch Jesus was crusified) . Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
God is completely aware of what Isaac means to Abraham. Not only does Abraham love Isaac as a son, Isaac is the promised one through whom the everlasting friendship between God and humanity will unfold – and Abraham knows this.
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham seems determined to follow God's clear instruction immediately – without hesitation. He rose early the next morning and, when they were close to where they need to be, he told the servents to stay behind – no one gets in the way.
In the end, following God is NOT a group decision. We must each, individually, answer a call that will not be supported by the culture. We must each, individually, answer a call that will not be supported by human reasoning.
This does not mean that responding, in faith, to God's call has a weak foundation – quit the opposite. The foundation of a faith-based decision is trusting a trustworthy God and following.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.
Here, in Isaac, we see an image of Jesus about 1,400 years later. He also carried the insterment of his own death
As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
What a profound response. Abraham knew two things. First, he knew that God would fulfill the covenant of promise through him. Second, he knew that he was going to follow God's direction – he was going to sacrifice Isaac. What do you do with that? There is no other choice than to end up where we all need to end up. God must work.
Hebrews 11:17-19 (NIV)
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
9When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.
Faith must be lived out for it to be real! One of the most usless thoughts Christian's have is, “I'm willing and just waiting for God to lead me.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
God's testing is always designed to move us to deeper faith – letting go of what this world offers, letting go of self and trusting God. This is good – it is God moving against sin in our lives and developing us as those who can impact others for him. God's design is much, much more than simply glory when we die, which is amazing – God's design is God-dependent life with him now!
What is your responce to God? Many times we give the impression that we are faithful, humble, servants of the King; but we don't act at all like Abraham did, “here I am. You talk, I will listen and obey”. We refuse to see God's testing (floods, sickness, unemployment, ect.) as a good thing that builds us into his image. The goal of our lives with Christ is that, when God asks, “Are you ready to take the next step?” we say, “YES, the Kingdome needs building, here I am”. Are you ready?
God DOES know and understand how important my misplaced loyalties are to me – he knows everything about me. If I am to be who he wants me to be, he must be my highest loyalty.
Matthew 10:37 (NIV)
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
Luke 16:13 (NIV)
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Humble Royalty – We see in Abraham an amazing model for us. Abraham was the target of God's amazing blessing. God was going to do the unimaginable through him – bigger than a “rock star”, bigger than the highest paid professional athlete, bigger than anyone you can think of. And Abraham would be a humble servant who followed in faith. As God moved Abraham into the correct disposition, God's intention explods into reality – God gets the glory and Abraham is fulfilled in following the King.
If Jesus is the One you are clinging to this morining as your only hope for life and your only purpose in life – you are the adopted child of God.
God will provide – Cling to the promise and follow God. Our idea of living lives in the center of God's will IS NOT the same as God's idea. Most often our idea of this does not involve a dependent, faith-filled existance – a life that has abandoned whatever gets in the way of mission. In Abraham's example, at the point of total obedience came the provision of God – God will provide. this is true for us as well.
God not only ordains the wonderful salvation of the lost, he also ordains the means through which they will come to know Jesus.
We all respond – Many times we give the impression that we are faithful, humble, servants of the King; but we don't act at all like Abraham did, “here I am. You talk, I will listen. You talk and I will obey.” We refuse to see God's testing (floods, sickness, unemployment, neighbors in need, ect.) as a good thing that builds us into his image. The goal of our lives with Christ is that, when God asks, “Are you ready to take the next step?” we say, “YES, the Kingdome needs building, here I am”.
One of the worst things a Christian can say is – I'm willing, if only God would speak. Right now God is asking you to trust him in some way...
Do you believe God will provide?