Here we go

Abe travels from Beersheba about 60 miles North to Mount Moriah. He is determined to be obedient, despite the fact this seems to be the end of God’s purpose for his life. Ever felt like you have come to the end of your road, where the test is so difficult, the ask has you stretched to the breaking point? Their tone proceeds them, speaking in a genteel southern draw you heard “bless your heart” even though they said ‘how are you?” Genesis 22:5 Then Abraham said to his young men, Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship (שָׁחָה shachah) and come again to you.” (ESV)

Yes, Abe still holds the faith. In our grand chapter of firsts, we encounter still another one, worship. (שָׁחָה shachah) Worship always involves sacrifice. Abe’s sacrifice of Isaac is the greatest act of worship in the Bible. He has no examples, no foreknowledge only his faith. If we truly worship, we’ll place our most valued possession, our everything—on the altar of sacrifice, unto God. Romans 12:1~With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. (JBP) Intelligent worship is an act of divine service. Everyone on stage in worship is a leader pointing to God, beckoning us to worship. 

Genesis 22:6~And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. (ESV) Worship is not to be entered into lightly for it is holy business. Even Isaac has taken part in the build-up of worship, for he has born the weight of the altar upon his back. This is truly a prophetic image of John 19:17~Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). (NIV)

The sacrifice is imminent, the climb lay afoot, and the real question of this moment comes as Isaac innocently asks: Genesis 22:7~…My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. He said, Behold, the fire, and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? (ESV). Without the slightest whiff of bitterness or doubt, Abe responds deftly. Genesis 22:8~God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son. So they went both of them together. (ESV) Such a great demonstration of faith. Abe knows God’s promise is wrapped up in Isaac. He cannot possibly reconcile all this in his mind, but he obeys anyway. Abe obeys even when God doesn’t seem to make any sense. Step by step, Abe’s walking in his faith, living out 2 Corinthians 5:7~For we live by believing and not by seeing. (NLT) We all ask, How can Abe be willing to sacrifice his only son that he loves, Isaac? Hebrews 11:19~Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. (NIV) When life seems Strange: and it doesn’t make sense: Go, go where the Lord guides and, Trust. 



The story of Abe

As we continue to read Genesis 22 many millennia later, we know it’s only a test. Approaching the passage as if we witnessed the vivid color bars of our youth, eyes, and ears assaulted by the loud wooo, this is only a test, yet Abe does not know. Genesis 22:2~He said, Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love (אָהַב ‘ahab), and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. (ESV) Isaac is the only son of prophetic promise. God is, therefore, asking the aged patriarch to sacrifice his great love and desire. Isaac is the son of a miraculous conception, where dust is blown out and life is given.

God’s request doesn’t make any sense, and there is no earthly way in Abe’s comprehension to harmonize this with God’s previous promises. When reading the Bible, we must pay attention when a word is first used, for it holds the key to unlock the other places we read it in scripture. So to understand what Christ Jesus is going to do in the New Testament on the Cross, we must understand the word (אָהַב ‘ahab). Here we find the Hebrew word love used for the first time. Moreover, we are introduced to a phrase in this verse, only son. Abe’s love for his only son and God asks for sacrifice.

I bet you are beginning to see the picture. How a father loves and gives up his only son. This picture is captured in the New Testament in John 3:16~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. (NIV) This is the ultimate test of Father Abe’s faith. Will he in faith give up the child of his promised old age—his only son? He is to sacrifice on one of the mountains in the land of Moriah. This is a sacred place, listen to 2 Chronicles 3:1~Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. (NIV) Hear me, Jews believe the altar of burnt offerings in the temple stood on the very site of the altar on which Abe offered Isaac. They are probably right and Abe is immediately obedient, leaving early in the morning with two of his young men and Isaac (22:3). 



Strange

Have you ever had life not make sense? A series of events and then some time and nothing. We process life as it comes and here on the heels of incredible despair, stress riddled days turn to months or even years and you are still wondering. This is Abe. I know it is Easter and our savior has risen, but even in the Old Testament, way back before Isaiah said a son is born to us, named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Predating even the law, a promise was made and two sons rivaled his heart only to send one and later required to give one. Ishmael is sent away by the Lord in Genesis 21. For close to a decade Abe has mulled over in tranquil peace, his relationship with Jehovah Olam, the Everlasting God. As his relationship has grown, apparently his love and affection for Isaac as grown as well. 

Last week’s episode shared how Abe learned that he could trust God and that the Lord would do as He has said. Has life ever moved swimmingly with all the fluidity of your hopes and dreams only to awaken from your watery dream with and question? No ordinary ask, this was more than a mustard seed moment and made even less sense because of the series of events that brought you here. When life seems Strange and doesn’t make sense, we need to do three things: Go, Trust and Reside.

Go where the Lord guides (Genesis 22:1-8). With Abe’s child of problem and promise, Ishmael sent away, the stage is set for the father of all faith tests. Here is the passage’s context. Genesis 22:1~Some time later God tested (נָסָה nacah) Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” (ESV). (נָסָה nacah) means to tempt or to test, so this story of Abe and Isaac, a boy and his father on a journey to answer the question of what is your greatest love is a test of Abe’s faith. It reminds us a growing faith requires testing. When God tests our faith, it stretches and grows. God is now going to ply Abe’s faith with maximum tension. Do you remember growing pains? Aching legs needing to be rubbed, as parents employ soothing words which often failed in comfort. If only Abe could have read James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) Maturation in life and faith isn’t an easy process.