Monday, February 18, 2013

Abraham's Faith

Heather and I recently studied the Old Testament account of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his only son, Isaac.  God miraculously provided Abraham and his wife, Sarah, with a son, Isaac, so that God could fulfill his promise to Abraham, the father of Israel. In Genesis chapter 22, God directs Abram to take Isaac, the very son through whom God was going to fulfill his promise to Abraham, go up onto a mountain, and murder him as a sacrifice to God.  Amazingly, Abraham obeyed without hesitation and without complaint. Then, just as Abraham was about to lower the knife upon his long-awaited son, God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice in lieu of his son. 

This is truly an amazing story of faith. The extent to which Abraham was “tested” makes the entire story seem like an ancient Greek myth, particularly in an age like ours. But rather than dismiss it as such, I’m sure there are numerous applications to each of us for how Abraham acted in faith.  For me, there are two ways in which Abraham’s faith is convicting.    

First, are we willing to follow God at any cost?  In other words, do we really love God more than anything else in our lives, even our own children? The greatest commandment is not “Love your children with all your heart ….,” but instead, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27).  Thankfully, we are not being called by God to bring our children to the sides of mountaintops to kill our own children.  But whether you lost a child or face or types of significant sufferings, the question remains: Are you still willing to trust in God, and love God, even after what God allowed to happen?  Christ’s death on the cross demonstrated that there is no “line to be crossed” by which we can say that the cost we suffered is too much to bear, and that we can no longer follow him. 

Second, is my faith such that I believe God can accomplish his purposes through any means?  If you are honest, I’m guessing that your initial reaction to Abraham’s action in following God, even to the point of sacrificing his son, was “what was Abraham thinking?”  That is, what was he thinking that God was going to accomplish through the death of Issac and, therefore, why should he obey God?  

But God was not “testing” Abraham’s logic; it was a test of his faith. Abraham trusted that God could accomplish his purposes through any means.  In Hebrews 11:19, the author says about Abraham, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” 

In Abraham’s case, the benefits of trusting God, even when he did not understand his ways, were two-fold.  On the one hand, he received his son back.  The earthly life of his long-sought after son was no consolation to whatsoever when, in the moment of testing, he faced the very real prospect that his long-promised son would be a victim of his own knife, his own hand, his own sacrifice.  And, secondly, he could marvel all the more at God’s sovereign work in his life.  Abraham would have not had the opportunity to worship God’s special provision for him in this circumstance had he not “stepped out” in faith. 
I pray that you will, like me, follow Abraham’s lead in loving God more than anything else.  I pray that you will trust him more, so that you can see how we intervenes in our lives to provide reason to honor, love and trust Him.