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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Abram Believed God

English: The frescoes of Joakim Skovgaard in t...
English: The frescoes of Joakim Skovgaard in the Viborg Cathedral, Denmark: Abraham and Isaac climbing Mount Moriah. Joakim Skovgaards fresker i Viborg Domkirke: Abraham og Isak på vej op ad Moriabjerget. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 In GenesisAbram was called by God to leave his homeland and his people and go to a  place he didn't know. He did it. There were several hindrances to his life and welfare, but he did prosper and find sustenance in Canaan. 

The Bible does not give any clue to the amount of time that passed between the initial call and the time of testing, but finally God called him to take his son Issac and go to Mount Moriah and make an offering there. The offering was Isaac. This son that he had plead with God for was to be the offering. He saddled his donkey and called two of his men to accompany them and they set out early in the morning. 

Isaac was smart enough to know they needed an animal for the sacrifice. He questioned Abram about it. "Father, we have the knife and the wood and the fire, but where will we get a lamb on the mountain?" Abram replied, "God will provide." This is the answer of faith. When God called him to make an offering, he was obedient.

Abram never argued or begged for some other option. He was completely compliant with God's choice. I can imagine the heart wrenching agony he faced when he laid the wood on Isaac's back and assured him that there would be an acceptable sacrifice when the time for the offering came. I am less sure that I could have been as confident of God's providence as Abram was.

Abram came form a society and culture where child sacrifice was acceptable and routine. The society I live in, at least in regard to laws and public policy, defends the child's right to be accepted as an individual and protected as a human being. Abram highly valued and loved his son Isaac. He did have another son, Ishmael, but Issac was the son God had promised, and they could not coexist as descendants of God's promise to Abram. 

When he got to the place where the offering was to take place, Abram prepared the altar and placed the wood in order and bound Isaac and laid him on top. I have to assume that Isaac knew what was about to happen to him when his father took the knife. This surely was a test for Abram, but I think it was equally a test for Isaac. He did not protest or fight. He was as yielded as Abram. 

Before he could sink the knife into the boy, the angel of the Lord called to him and pointed to a ram caught in the thicket that he could substitute for Isaac.

Abram was tested, and God was satisfied with his obedience. God called to him again from Heaven, and said, "Because you have obeyed and not questioned, all the people of the earth will be blessed through your son."

Not every test is announced; some take us by surprise. Only in hindsight do we recognize great tests of faith we witness. Sometimes we witness the test when we fail. Abram had failed one test when God told him that he would have a child. He and Sarai conspired to seek the child from Sarai's handmaiden. That was a flop. The effort produced a child, Ishmael, but he was not the child of the promise. Now Isaac  was the offering. Did Abram have faith to trust God this time? With a resounding yes, we see Abram ready to offer Isaac on the altar. This is the attitude God wanted in every case. 

Are we willing to sacrifice our cherished dream to take up God's call? Abram is the model of obedience. It is not appropriate for us to offer a child anymore. That was a one-time thing, and we cannot take every demand of God as a prescription for our behavior. God no longer calls us to this kind of sacrifice, but he may call us to acts of great obedience and sacrifice. Seek God to learn what he is requiring of you each day.