Saturday, February 23, 2019 -
This morning, while waiting for my visitors (my daughter Victoria, son-in-law Cory, granddaughter Evelyn, and sister Priscilla), I read the account of God testing the faith of Abraham by telling him to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham implicitly obeyed God, but it also seems he had unwavering faith that God would not allow him to complete what He was asking him to do. But it came right down to the wire.
However, surely Abraham remembered that God promised him and Sarah a son – not multiple children, but just one son, in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 18:18). This was not the first time God had told him this. When God sent Abraham to Egypt, He’d told him, “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing…And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). Later, upon returning to the Promised Land, God told Abraham, “for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered” (Genesis 13:15-16). In Genesis 15:18, God told Abraham as part of his covenant, “To your descendants, I have given this land.” Then, in Genesis 17:1-2, God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” A few verses later, in Genesis 17:19, God specifically told Abraham that it was not Ishmael He was speaking about, but Sarah’s son: “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with Him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
So after all of this, why would God ask Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice – the son through whom all of these promises God had covenanted? God already made it clear the covenant between Him and Abraham was through Abraham’s son Isaac.
It is interesting, that when God tells Abraham to do this in Genesis 22:2, Abraham never questions God about it. He didn’t say, “but God, you promised me Isaac would have many descendants and through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed.” Instead, Abraham immediately obeyed. Yet, I can’t help but think he contemplated, “But God promised me Isaac would have many descendants.” God had already told Abraham this over and over again. And God didn’t merely just tell him this, God made a covenant about it! Surely Abraham believed that God never goes back on His covenants! But Abraham proceeds to do exactly as God directs him regardless, without argument! The fact that Abraham really had faith in God’s promises, even though God chooses to try Abraham in what may seem to us today to be a very inexplicable way, is evident in the fact he told his servants, “I and the lad will go yonder; and WE will worship and return to you” (Genesis 22:5). By faith, Abraham said they both would return, Not because Abraham did not trust God’s promises, but because he knew God’s promises to be true. Yet, Abraham must remain obedient to wherever God took him! When God first promised Abraham a son, God told him to “count the stars, if you are able to count them, so shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5). The next verse says, “Then he believed in the Lord, and He reckoned it to Him as righteousness.” Hebrews 11 calls this the faith of Abraham. And I believe that faith enabled Abraham to be willing to do the unthinkable, even though it contradicted all of the many times God spoke to Abraham about Isaac’s descendants.
Note that Abraham said to his servant he and Isaac were going to worship God. He knew in his heart God would deliver in the last minute. God was clearly testing Abraham. I believe Abraham couldn’t help but know this, for reasons already given. Abraham knew God always kept His promises, His covenants! That’s why he told Isaac God would provide the lamb for the burnt offering.
Not only was Abraham speaking of the sacrifice they were about to give in worship to God, but it was a very prophetic vision of God’s own Son, the lamb that was to take away the sins of the world, being the ultimate sacrifice!
What a picture of what God did for us! God did come through at the last minute!
It may be presumptuous for me to compare myself in any way to Abraham, or Abraham’s faith, but these observations really spoke to me today in my situation. I have not been asked to sacrifice my son. But I have been asked to give up a lot for Christ’s sake. Being in prison for three years means giving up being with my wife, abandoning my business and the ministry accomplished through it, and its profits, and many other sacrifices. On the other side of that spectrum, I know without a doubt that God promised me on multiple occasions that I would be delivered. I do not know how, but I have no doubt He will, and can. He had already performed so many miracles in our lives! Many have prophesied over this situation with what I believe to be real words God was providing. He has given Kathie and me amazing peace and confidence each step of the way, yet here I am, laying on the altar, with the devil trying to put thoughts in my mind that God is going to renege on His promises to Kathie and me. Yet I remain confident God will do something, in which He alone gets the glory! I thought back about the sign God gave me several weeks ago – the writing on the wall – a huge “V” written in bright brilliance as clear as day, a perfect, angelic type formation. How could that not be just one more reassurance from God Almighty, that the victory belongs to Him, and I can expect it, without a doubt.
This lesson from Abraham’s life reassures me today, again, that my God will rescue me in His own timing. In the meantime, I must be faithful in every way, believing God will deliver. Indeed, I have, too, gone up the mountain to worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and all praise belongs to Him who delivers and keeps His children in the palm of His hand, the great Shepherd, and the Lamb who sacrificed His own life for me. Praise the Lord!