Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday, January 7th: Genesis 22-24 ~ Jeannine

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 22-24

I'm going to focus today on Chapter 22. This is a heavy chapter...who could possibly fathom the idea of being asked to sacrifice their own child. That would be a test beyond all tests for me. I'm not sure my faith would hold up if God asked that of me.

I did a study once by Beth Moore on The Patriarchs and she spent a good deal of time on Abraham. She spoke on these 5 points.

1) God specifically called "Abraham". Our tests have our names on them. The tests God has for us are for each of us individually. You will never have to take someone else's test. Generally testing occurs to show the quality of someone or something through stressful circumstances.

2) Our hardest tests often involve our dearest loves. Often when God tests us it requires a sacrifice of something we dearly love. I can't imagine how difficult this test must have been for Abraham. He and Sarah waited so very long to have this child and now God was asking Abraham to sacrifice him. I'm not sure that I will ever be able to understand how Abraham could just respond to God and say "Here I am" and then carry out God's instructions without question. Especially after he was so bold in Genesis 18 when he was pleading for the people of Sodom.

3) We are not powerless in our tests. The commentary in my bible says "God tested Abraham, not to trip him and watch him fall, but to deepen his capacity to obey God and thus develop his character. When we are tested we can complain, or we can try to see how God is stretching us to develop our character."

4) Obedience is not the hardest part of our most trying tests. Keeping the faith can be the hardest of all. We can obey God and then still decide to be bitter about it. It might have cost us something.  Do we believe that God has a plan and will carry it out? Abraham tells the servants to "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (vs 5) Whoa! What! Abraham said..."then WE will come back to you". Hebrews 11:17-19 says,

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death." 

There had been no recorded examples of resurrection when Abraham lived. Abraham had enough faith to believe that God would do something he had never even seen. He took God at His word when he had told Abraham that kings of people would come from Sarah. God would just have to raise Isaac from the dead. Do we believe God enough to do something we have never even seen?

5) Like Abraham, we're likely to discover that the harder the test the further the ramifications. God is never just out to hurt us. When God is up to something hard, God is up to something big. And it has a huge ripple effect. The picture of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is a parallel to God giving His one and only son. Galatians 3:8 says,

"The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham."  

God was teaching the gospel of Christ to Abraham and his descendants. The place where Abraham sacrificed Isaac was commemorated by the name "The Lord will Provide". It was not called "How Abraham obeyed". I think we often look at this passage and think it was about Abraham and Isaac but it was really all about God and Christ. Abraham would never forget this gospel because he had acted it out and felt the feelings of it. God tells Abraham "Tell you what...we are going to stage this thing and you are playing me..." Only Abraham had no idea that Isaac was playing Christ until the point that Isaac got to get up. It was really all about God and his message of salvation.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 25-26


Conrad said...

You are correct Jeannine, I had never thought of this passage as God and Christ, but as Abraham and Isaac. Personally, I have never liked this passage because I know my faith is not strong enough to sacrifice my son. Certainly shows the amount of love our Heavenly Father has for us willing to sacrifice His only son.

What stood out for me in today's reading was obedience and prayer. First of all, Abraham's obedience to God in following through on going to sacrifice his son. Secondly, Abraham's senior servant obeyed Abraham by going to Abraham's country to find a wife for Isaac. The servant recognized the importance of his journey, so he prayed for God to lead Isaac's future wife to him. His prayer was also pretty specific in how this was going to happen with a specific conversation, and the Lord provided once again!

Interestingly, before I read today's passage I was checking out my Instagram account and someone posted "To not pray is to silently declare that you have more power over your situation than Jesus does." Abraham's servant knew he was powerless without God intervening in this situation. May I be able to recognize this truth in my situations!

TammyIsBlessed said...

I, too, have always struggled with this story. I couldn't understand why God would ask Abraham to do something wrong (murder) as a test of faith. I understood the points about God using something we love in the test (otherwise it wouldn't be much of a test) and I totally got the fact that it foreshadowed God's willingness to give up His Son for us and that Jesus would willingly die for us. But I still didn't like it. However, I figured this was one of those things that I would just have to take on faith, because clearly, if God and I have a differing opinion, I'm the one that's wrong.

But I read something today that totally made sense and helped me to make more sense of this story. This took place way before God's law was ever given and (though it was also used for all the things described above and in Jeannine's post) it was used to demonstrate exactly that fact that God was condemning murder, and child sacrifice in particular. In that culture, child sacrifice was common in the pagan religions. We even see it later in 2 Kings 3:27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. As horrific as it is for us to realize, the idea that you would take the son you love most and sacrifice him to appease your god was actually standard procedure. Normal! God was teaching Abraham, in a vivid and very effective personal object lesson, that human sacrifice was wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it is ineffective. Only the sacrifice of God's perfect Son Jesus can make atonement for sin.

To me, this perspective has helped me reconcile this event with the consistency of God's character and holiness.

Nathan Reimer said...

I too, have always found this storey uncomfortable to read and think about. It makes me wonder would I have done the same as Abraham and been willing to sacrifice my own son? Probably not unless God himself physically stood in front of me and told me to do it... Even then I can't say for sure I would.

What stood out for me was the result of Abraham's obedience, found in 22:18
" and in your off spring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice"

What a huge reward, our obedience to God will one day be rewarded

Leanne said...

What an amazing example of obedience at any cost. Abraham had no idea how the story was going to end when he trudged up the mountain with his only son. It is a lesson to me to listen and obey what God is telling me to do.

Pamela said...

Somehow I always see this side of the story through Isaac's point of view and I wonder how he could ever fully trust his Dad again...or how likely he would be to accompany Abraham on any future journeys. I don't know if my faith is strong enough to trust something so unbelievable. I also never noticed the second "we" in the message to Abraham's servants. Great post Jeannine!

Jeannine said...

Issacs part in this story is interesting. He wasn't a very young child at this time. Different people will say anywhere between 12-20. Which means he would have been strong enough to overpower Abraham who was already 100. The bible doesn't say anything about how Isaac reacted to this situation. What made him cooperate?