Thursday, October 2, 2008

Genesis 22

These are something the things I love: my wife. My family. My friends. My state finals medal from when I was on my high school basketball team. The flag that was on my grandfather’s casket at his funeral. These are some of the things I treasure deeply. I wouldn’t give them up or betray them for any earthly thing. I do not have any children of my own yet, but I can only imagine the love and connection one would feel toward a child.

Now imagine being asked to give up this connection willingly. It’s not like you are sending this child away so that it may have a successful life you won’t see. No, you are asked to tie this child down, kill them with a knife, then burnt he remains as an offering to the lord. Who has the strength to do that? Who would think they were in their right mind if they were compelled to do that?

We see this ultimate example today when Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac. It is believed that the boy was 13 by now, so we know that we are almost 40 years into Abraham’s story of faith. We have seen him be ultimately faithful, yet we have seen him fail. This appears to be his ultimate test, as he is asked to personally sacrifice the thing that the Lord promised him. He carried that sacrifice right up to the moment of truth, trusting that God would provide another sacrifice in Isaac’s place.

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. 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.

9 When 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."

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." – Genesis 22:6-13

This is a prelude to Christ’s sacrifice. It shows us the love that Abraham felt toward God that he was willing to give up anything to gain his favor. God showed us the same love by actually going through with the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. I cannot imagine what had to be going through the minds of all the parties involved here. Abraham had to have great faith, yet he also probably had great fear that God wouldn’t come through. Because of his failings before, we know he was prone to fail again.

So what can we learn from this? First, God is in control, even when he seems to make a radical request we don’t necessarily agree with. Second, we must be prepared to give everything we have been given because God is the source of that blessing. Third, we see that a bad situation doesn’t necessarily have to end badly. Instead of losing a son, Abraham gained God’s favor further. His blessing continues even today.

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