January 8 – Today’s Readings – Genesis 22-24 – Psalms 8
We come today to a fascinating account in Scripture where God shows Abraham what His great salvation is all about. The way God goes about this almost inconceivable to us but in ancient days, the “gods” routinely required human sacrifice to appease them. Scripture after Scripture forbids us from taking human life which is why we oppose things such as abortion and murder. At this point in history, God had expressly forbidden taking human life and Abraham knew it.
How then could God seemingly contradict Himself? … Because, it was never God’s intent that Isaac be sacrificed but rather that Abraham gain an amazing revelation of God’s immense sacrifice and His plan for the salvation of mankind. Isaac, like Jesus was like a lamb – innocent of anything that should sentence him to death. Abraham needed to feel the anguish of this offering so that he could prophetically see the heart and plan of God. I believe that God also wanted Abraham to see that He was completely different from any “god” he had ever heard of or encountered. This was not a God who would constantly ask people to perform hideous and sinful acts just to appease Him. One of the favorite practices in this part of the world at that time was for families to sacrifice children to gods such as Molech. God wanted to deal with this abomination once and for all. Old Testament people were in some ways no different than we are – but they looked FORWARD to the Savior of the world – we look BACK to Jesus Christ and what he did for us when he died on the cross. Remember this truth – The God-Head planned salvation from the beginning – God Himself would show his love by suffering and dying for sinful man. Jesus – 100% God and 100% Man – God in the flesh fulfilled that plan.
There are indications here, of the kind of faith Abraham possessed when he told his servant, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” [Genesis 22:5] He then prophetically told Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” [Genesis 22:8] He also reasoned that, even if the sacrifice actually happened, God would raise the dead. (Hebrews 11:19) After all, had God not promised him that through Isaac would come multitudes?
Some historians suggest that the spot God brought Abraham to in this “test” was actually the same PHYSICAL spot where Jesus would die years later. Some Muslims also believe that this was the place Mohammad was taken to heaven. Still others believe that this is the very place where the Temple Mount is located in Jerusalem.
I find it interesting that through this test there came a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham – it’s almost as though the promise was there in principle but the SIGNATURES on the contract took place after Abraham was tested. How many promises of God hinge on our response to Him? I can’t think of any faith-contracts that don’t. Even Salvation requires a response.
1. There are “deceived and mentally ill” people in the Christian community who boldly declare that God has “told” them to do some extreme act. How is a Christian to evaluate what they think God has told them to do?
2. If there was nothing Abraham could do to earn God’s favor, then why did God ask him to offer Isaac?