Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac…and set out for the place…On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance…
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together [up the mountain]…Isaac…said…“The fire and the wood are here…but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide…” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him…
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said, “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.”
Genesis 22: 1-12 (NIV)
If what I see outside my window this morning is any indication of what the day will be like—it’s fixing to be a beautiful day. A bit warm again perhaps, but it’s cool inside, so I’m good.
But then I read this verse and see that God is talking to me again about putting something on the altar.
It’s a great story if we could just leave it there—as a story—about a father and a son—Abraham and Isaac. But God never seems to do that—he just keeps tapping us on the shoulder until He really gets our attention, until things become discomforting. Until something seems to stick, until we change.
What will you put on the altar for Me, He wants to know?
I wonder what we are willing to put on the altar if God asks. Or maybe He asked and we pretended to be asleep, or busy? And to be perfectly clear and vulnerable, let me share something with you that all of you who know me already know to be true: Abraham is a better man than I.
I don’t know how you do what Abraham did. I don’t know where that kind of faith and obedience to God exists today. To sacrifice something that precious—to and at the request of God. Your son. Your grandchildren. Whomever. I don’t want to sell anyone out there short, but I’m not sure I’ve seen that kind of faith, obedience and sacrifice in a while.
Maybe that’s the problem. Or maybe I’ve seen it—but have forgotten. Our servicemen and women come close. Maybe I need a refresher course, though, in this thing called obedience to God. Maybe we all do.
That’s why, I suspect, I was led to share most of this story, above, which God shared with us in Genesis. Maybe the lesson of Abraham’s unwavering faith is something we need to reflect upon again.
But, maybe that’s the problem. God calls us to complete obedience and sacrifice, and well, sometimes we come part way at least. Here I sit in my den in comfortable surroundings, looking out the window and reading the story of Abraham’s faith, obedience and sacrifice—and I seem to understand the lesson—but I wonder if I were really put to the test, would I do what Abraham did.
Don’t make me answer just yet.
Maybe that’s the problem with us as a nation, as churches, as communities, as espoused followers of Christ—we understand the lesson of Abraham in our heads—but when it comes to walking that journey with our hearts and lives—now that’s a different story.
And what about the story of Isaac? Isaac was a young man who was strong enough to carry the wood that would be stacked on the altar for his funeral fire. Abraham was an old man, and if Isaac didn’t want to go through with this scheme God hatched, certainly he could run or, at least, he could keep Abraham away from him. He certainly had the youth and strength to prevent this from happening.
But his heart told him otherwise. He trusted God and he trusted his Dad. And he allowed his Dad to bind him and place him on the altar. I’ll bet Isaac even climbed up on the altar himself—that’s the heart of obedience, faith and sacrifice he had for God.
Abraham put his son on the altar in obedience to God. Isaac put himself on the altar in obedience to God. His very life. What is God calling us to put on the altar—in obedience, faith and sacrifice to Him? Money, wealth, things, work-a-holism, anger, something someone did to us we need to forgive, comfort, selfishness, doubt, greed, a habit which is keeping you from becoming all He created you to be.
The story of Abraham and Isaac is more than a story about a father and son, about the father of many and the son who trusted him. It is the story about God the Father and you and me. It is the reminder of the continual call on our lives to obedience, to faith and to sacrifice. Because when we commit our lives to God’s plan for them, that is when we start on the path to become all He created us to be.
By the way, the place where Abraham built the altar to sacrifice Isaac—Mount Moriah—later was unearthed and became known as Calvary.
What is God calling you to put on the altar?
Something to think about today and every day for the rest of our lives.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2013. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.