The Sacrifice of Obedience

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God promised Abraham he would make his descendants like stars and sand (Gen. 15:5). Yet, he also told Abraham to “Take 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.” (Genesis 22:2)

God really rubbed it in. He promised “And I will make you a great nation… in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (12:2-3) Now take your only beloved son and offer him to me. Between the promise and the command was a long time…more than 25 years as we don’t know how old Isaac was when this story happened.

So what did Abraham do? He rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took 2 of his young men and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and went to the place of which God had told him. (v. 3)

How did he feel cutting the wood to be used to burn his son? He rose early that morning not because he had insomnia but because it was a long way to go. They arrived at the foot of the mountain on the 3rd day. He told his servants: “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”

Perhaps it’s too steep for the donkey to go up the mountain. He did not ask the servants to go with them. So he had his son to carry the wood. How was it for him to have the child carry the ‘load’ that would take his life? And to have to answer his son’s question: where is the lamb for the offering? “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” God did indeed provide and so much more. Read Genesis 22:9-14.

Abraham told his servants both he and the boy will worship and return to them. He also told his son God will provide the lamb. These 3 people did not know of God’s promise (good and easy) and His command (unpleasant and hard). Abraham had no one to share the burden of the challenge. God is enough!

Often, in life, what I say and do is between God and me. It’s our secret. His Word is my secret weapon through life’s hard places. How much do I place my stake in his promise? How long do I have to wait before his promise becomes a reality? What comes first promise or obedience? One precedes the other – God’s promise (15:5), next Abraham’s obedience then more assurance (22:16-18).

What do I tell the people who do not know of God’s Word for me – both the good and the bad, the hard and the easy? What I say and what I do, words and actions… do they align? What do I do with God’s command and God’s promise? Claim one and run from the other? Job’s words come to mind: Shall we receive good from God, shall we not receive disaster? (Job 2:10 ESV)

And Abraham believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Gen.15:6 ESV)

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