Archive for January, 2012

Genesis Chapter 22

Thank You Kathy!

Let me begin by saying that God really loved Abraham.  He saved the Jews over and over, He forgave them over and over… because He’d made a promise to Abraham.  So, I’m reading this chapter through the glasses of “what was it about Abraham?”

God tested Abraham (vs. 1).  What?  Isn’t God able to look into men’s hearts?  Why was He testing him?

I have a few guesses… all of them are pieces of ideas and humanly-small.

Was it all an object lesson for those of us who would read about Abraham’s devotion thousands of years later?  I don’t think that’s the whole reason, though it is surely part of it.  I’ve heard preachers say it was to demonstrate to Abraham that ‘he had what it takes’.  But I don’t really buy that one.  As with Job, maybe God was exposing His own glory to the inhabitants of the spiritual realm through a devoted man.

But the wording of Gen. 22 doesn’t even hint at that one.  Maybe He was looking for a man through whom the Son of God would one day come, a man that would prepare the environment of a Jewish nation, a nation of God-centered people, to raise the child, Jesus, in.  Maybe the mere resolution to obey God did something in Abraham’s character that would be needed to father and then demonstrate devotion to a ‘chosen people’.  Of course we know how faithless Israel was throughout the years… but there always remained an obedient remnant.

We know God had the plan mapped out before the creation of the world to save the world.  Jesus was ready to die for us before He made us.  Everything for love of His children.  This is a comfort when we don’t understand.  Is this yet another story to be evaluated through the realization prism that ‘our ways are not like God’s ways’, that our understanding is less than microscopic next to His?  Is this a cop out?  Maybe not.  Maybe its just trusting God.

Was that the reason Abraham was pleasing to God?  (Hebrews 11)  He trusted God to leave the land of his fathers and go where?  He didn’t even know where when he left.  sure he messed up along the way and it created tremendous problems, which is just another confirmation that God does not need us to be perfect.  He needs us to love Him, seek Him, trust Him and make Him first.

God said to Abraham,

Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains i will tell you about.  Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey…

Maybe Abraham appreciated his own weakness, because he did not wait to mull it over.  He left the next morning.  Keep in mind, Abraham had already lost Ishmael (who he loved).  He was ready to obey God with Isaac as well.  There can be no doubt, God was first in Abraham’s priority of things.

Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  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’.

We’ve all heard the sermons… Abraham had faith that Isaac would return with him from worshiping God.  We can’t know how he expected God to pull this off, but once again he trusted God.  He trusted God to be true to His promise that through Isaac the earth would be peopled as the stars of the heavens. (Gen. 15:40)

So, they climbed the mountain together and Isaac asked “where’s the lamb?”

Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And then Abraham tied Isaac up, put him on the sticks and was ready to do it.  The angel of the Lord stopped him.

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.

Again the question is (among many more) why did it have to go that far?  could God not see his heart?  Yes, He could see Abraham’s heart.  I don’t know why it had to go that far.  We only know that God did provide a ram.  The Lamb, He provided a thousand years later.  He also provided the Lamb on this very Mount Moriah.

God is a Master Mathematician, Master Planner, Master Poet and He seems to love symbols.

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.”  And so it was.

“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself” (proof that this is God in Jesus form) that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 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 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed because you obeyed me.”

A truly flabbergasting story.  The most obvious application is to show in very human terms how much we are loved by a Perfectly Good, Inconceivable Powerful, Infinitely Merciful Father.  And how much we are valued by the part of the Trinity that was willing to lay out the ground work for His own inconceivably cruel slaughter… all to reunite us with Themselves.  (Remember, He is the One Who stopped Abraham, knowing all the while that He would one day become The Lamb provided.)

A story like this one is meant to inspire us.  Some (myself included) could feel unworthy by it, deflated, ‘I could never do that’.  Let me just say that what God asks us to do, He gives us the strength to do.  And of course we are not worthy, we are loved.  God spends a life time of work refining us.  We are His work of art at the end of our lives, if we allow it, if we trust Him, if we give up our will for His. A beautiful story really in an unstable, fallen world.


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