Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is Your Isaac?

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The Sacrifice of Isaac

1After these things(A) God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to(B) the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy[a] will go over there and worship and come again to you." 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and(C) laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8Abraham said,(D) "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and(E) laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12He said,(F) "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for(G) now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (ESV)

This story of obedience has always fascinated me. Abraham lived with a sense of reckless abandonment that we are to also apply to our own lives. What is interesting about this story is that prior to this event, God had promised Abraham this for years upon years upon years. When he finally got Issac as his son, God asks him to sacrifice him---notice Abraham did not even question the Lord in all of this. Abraham simply replied, "Here I am Lord." Now all this is to not glorify Abraham as some super-human but to recognize the true definition of "fearing the Lord." Verse 12 says this after Abraham had the knife prepared to slaughter his son: "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you FEAR GOD, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
In those days, having a son was a HUGE deal. Huge. Because the son carried on the family into the next generation, the family's inheritance was passed onto him by this father. So everything that the family accomplished or did in the span of time they were given on this earth, was passed onto the son. Isaac was not just one of many sons of Abraham---he was his only son--the son that God himself had promised, yet he surrendered him wholeheartedly to the Lord. I love the point of this passage where Isaac asks, "Hey dad, where is the lamb to be sacrificed ?" And Abraham replies, "The Lord will provide the lamb." AH! Does this not sound so familiar to what is to come in the New Testament? "Behold the lamb that comes to take away the sins of the world?" Christ fulfilled this sacrifice: He too was God's only Son.

Even though we may not have children or understand the totality of offering your own child as a sacrifice, we too can relate and are called to fear the Lord as Abraham did. Christ has become our ultimate sacrifice through his death and resurrection. So although we may not "need" to sacrifice anything to obtain our salvation (other than total surrender of our lives) we are still called to fear the Lord--to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength.

What is your "Isaac" in life? Is it your future? Is it your education? Your body? Your job? Your money? Your mom? Your dad? One area that God has GREATLY transformed in my life is the concept of marriage. As I am preparing to be married, I cannot help but think back to years prior to becoming engaged--I prayed and prayed for my spouse. I remember just before I met Kory, I had come to this realization that my life did not begin with marriage--my mission and ministry did not commence at the alter. Funny how all of a sudden I met Kory and now am engaged to be married. But even now, as I look forward to so much of a marriage with him, I find myself continually taking our marriage to the top of the mountain, knife in hand prepared to sacrifice it---not because I want to destroy it, nor do I want to lose it---but because even though marriage between a man and woman is sacred, and a wonderful example of our relationship with Christ----the Lord is to be feared above all else. The Lord is to be Lord over all. Do we need to live in fear of God taking things away from us that he has given? No, of course not---God is not out to give us something and just take it away because he can: but he does have the authority in our lives as Lord, to do whatever it is that will bring him the most glory--because He is God.

So the point in all of this is to not say to you, "What would be the hardest thing to sacrifice to God?" But rather make the point that God actually is the one who sacrificed the most in all of this---yes he called Abraham to surrender his son as a sacrifice, but God surrendered his very self, in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son, as an atonement for our sins. Would that not compel you to sacrifice anything and everything in your life---including your own? I pray that we would not cling to the gifts we've been given; education, family, a spouse, our bodies, our very lives---but that we would cling to the Giver.

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