Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Greatest faith

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"
19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense...
Genesis 22:1: Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him....
5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you. (And so they did.  God stopped this awful event almost at its consummation...)
12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
....
16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son ---
7 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Many times, the question is not, "Do I believe," but, "How much do I believe?"  Am I certain about God's power, His will, His promises?  For Abraham, the answer was yes.  When you look at this event, the important thing to remember is that this was a TEST.  God did not intend for Abraham to actually take his son's life. God meant for Abraham to be willing to do ANYthing, including the sacrifice of all the promises God had made to him, to follow and obey the LORD, believing that God could and would still fulfill them.  In many ways, this is a crucial event in the Bible.  It is very difficult to discuss.  I can't think that God meant Isaac harm, and I believe that He always intended to protect Isaac.  There are many ministers who discuss these events without picking up the pathos and suffering involved here.
1. Abraham kept all this a complete secret.  The "young men" didn't know.  Isaac didn't know.  Sarah could not have known, because Abraham could never have explained.  So Abraham was utterly alone in this. Faith is always easier when it's exercised in a friendly group of people.  It can be exceedingly difficult when we must exercise it alone. In this case, it wasn't the faith that receives a new blessing we are discussing. It was the faith that says, "Whatever He tells me to do, I will." There is no more difficult faith to exercise than this, because you don't KNOW the outcome.  You may believe that all will be well, but fear and trepidation fill our hearts at times like this. You don't know how God is going to work this all out, and what if you're wrong? What if you have faith in a God who ISN'T there? What if you got the message wrong? At times like these, there's little help.  You stand alone. 
2.  There is no room for error.  If you make a mistake, your son is dead.  Talk about stress! It's almost like defusing a bomb--which wire do you cut? Better not be wrong.  Faith often has this component of immense risk, and you have to be right.  You don't dare to be wrong.  Too much depends on your decision. Abraham didn't hesitate, because he knew God's voice.  As for us, we have to be sure we are absolutely right in these crisis times.
3. Faith may involve other people, even though they don't know it.  Everyone in Abraham's circle was involved in this--Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, all his friends and servants.  What if he was wrong?  Making the wrong decision at this point makes you a murderer--and also makes you the man remembered as the nut who killed his own son because he thought God spoke to him.  
4. Still, when you truly do hear God's voice, it's well to act right away. Don't hesitate, because hesitating creates procrastination, which issues in disobedience, especially if the command is hard to bear or understand.
5.  The result was twofold:
  • Abraham was vindicated and honored, and Isaac (I'm sure) had a new understanding of the depth of his father's commitment.  The fact that Isaac submitted to his father speaks volumes about their relationship, and about Isaac's understanding of God.
  • God made a picture.  Abraham, willing to slay his son to obey God, was like a ripple in the ocean of history, showing that one day God Himself would allow His "only begotten Son" to die for mankind. This picture is more amazing because it's clear that the mountain on which Isaac was almost sacrificed was very near the spot where Jesus died on a Roman cross--perhaps on the very spot.  It's almost like God posted a marker at the beginning of the Hebrew race, saying, "Someday...My own dear Son will die for sinful men."  God spared Abraham's son, but we are told, "He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all..."