“…take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest…and offer him for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Gen. 22:2
Abraham – a man who waited nearly 26 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise that He would make him a great nation. The time must have crawled by, filled with disappointment after disappointment, and worse yet, the realization that Ishmael was not the promised son. I can almost imagine Abraham’s joy that day his beloved son was born and placed in his arms. That priceless gift – he would surely have given his own life for Isaac. Yet it was only a few years later that God asked him to sacrifice that very gift.
We will never find it convenient die, but the real question is, are we willing to die?
Convenient: accommodating, agreeable, comfortable, favorable, opportune, timely.
Willing: obedient, faithful, yielding, devoted, resigned.
The journey was three days (See Gen. 22:4). Every day must have grown more and more difficult as Abraham drew nearer to the place God had pre-ordained for the sacrifice of his son. He was looking for the mount God would show him – still in-tune with the direction of the Lord, yet no doubt struggling in his mind with this unbelievable request. He had waited for 26 long years – and now this? What about God’s promise of a great nation, of descendants like the sand on the sea and greater in number than the stars of the sky? What about blessing all nations through his lineage? What allowed Abraham to travel for three days with his only beloved, promised son, lay him on the alter, and raise a knife over that helpless form?
“…And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:” Gen. 22:8
Faith. Abraham had mountainous faith. He believed in the sovereignty of God – that God is a God who keeps His promises, and that He works in mysterious ways to fulfill the wonders He has willed. This week I felt a little bit like Abraham – except I found myself saying “Lord, you can’t ask me to lay that down! If I lay that down, Your promises won’t come true!!!” And it was that still small voice that rebuked my heart… “Hannah, do you love me, even unto the uttermost – is your love for me extreme?” Such was Abraham’s love for his Lord. There was no other affection he more highly valued. Isaac was Abraham’s life…but would Abraham lay down his life? He who saves his life will lose it. But he who lays down his life allows God to give it back to him.
“…now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Gen. 22:12
Abraham held nothing back. Did the thought “How will I live my life if I carry this out?” cross Abraham’s mind? Probably it did – yet there was one dominating truth that overcame – that God was sovereign over all. Abraham allowed God to grip his life in a way few men and women do – he gave unto the uttermost, unto the extreme – and Abraham was called “The Friend of God.”
Oh to obtain such a title as this! Are you a friend of God? Am I a friend of God? Whatever you are grasping in your hand, whatever fear is tightening your grip, know that your brethren who are in the world battle the same struggle – but in prayer and faith, we must press on, allow God to shatter our hopes, and then to bind them to His own ways and mend them according to His own will. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).
“When first affliction comes upon us, how everything gives way! Our clinging, tendril hopes are snapped, and our heart lies prostrate like a vine that the storm has torn from its trellis; but when the first shock is past, and we are able to look up, and say, “it is the Lord,” faith lifts the shattered hopes once more, and binds them fast to the feet of God. Thus the end is confidence, safety and peace.”
~Streams in the Desert, 5/11
Bind your sacrifice with cords to the alter!
Do not turn back!