Dear Friends,

This great show of faith and obedience is so radical that it is generally disregarded as having any relevance or application to our lives. But our Lord Jesus calls us to radical obedience today if we are to be His disciple. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother {in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters–[yes] and even his own life also–he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow/ obey) Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26-27 Amp.) Abraham is our example and shows us how to do this. (Heb. 13:7) 

"Some time later God tested Abraham.  Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."  The text states that this was a test of faith and thus we as readers know that God did not intend for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; but Abraham did not know it was only a test or it would have defeated the purpose.  The stronger the test (that we pass) the greater our faith and the greater our influence for Christ. 

"Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey." Here we see immediate and unquestioning obedience. Abraham knew that this was the "voice" of God as verse 18 in the NASB (not in NIV) translation clearly states and knew that His command (and for us God's Word) must overrule every objection. (2 Cor. 10:5)

"On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there."  Abraham probably thought the servants would try to stop him so he went alone with Isaac. But note what he says next: "We will worship and we will come back to you." In the epistle to the Hebrews we see what Abraham believed and what enabled him to obey this incomprehensible command from God. "By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was still in progress], had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God's] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead." (Heb. 11:17-19 Amp.)  What great faith it took to believe that God could resurrect a burnt corpse from the dead. 

"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"  Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"  "Here I am," he replied.  "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." The fear of the Lord involves both a fear of loss for disobedience to God and a hope of gain for obedience to God. It is a teaching in both the Old and New Testaments and is a major motivation for obedience. Experiencing God's love and loving Him in response does not preclude fearing Him. Our feelings of love for God can fluctuate so we must fear the Lord to continue to grow in radical obedience to Him as modeled here by Abraham. Jesus Himself lived in the fear of the Lord. (Isa. 11:1-3; Heb. 5:7 KJV) Later on we see the same kind of radical obedience for the hope of future reward modeled by Moses:  "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Heb. 11:24-26)  "The one who fears God, that is the faithful worshiper, will obediently surrender to God whatever He asks trusting in God's provision and blessing. God does not ask worshipers to give up that which they do not treasure or no longer care for or need. At the heart of God's program is sacrifice and although that may seem the way of failure, in God's marvelous dealings it is the way of victory." (Allen Ross – Creation and Blessing)   

"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son (a picture of substitutionary atonement).   So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." God did not require Abraham to sacrifice his son but God did sacrifice His one and only Son. Later the Temple was built on this mountain (2 Chron. 3:1) where sacrifices were made to God until the ultimate sacrifice was made on a hill nearby – "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." (John 1:29) "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Rom. 8:31-32)

Like Abraham we will have to have faith in the ultimate (eternal) goodness and blessings of God to sacrifice and forsake common sense, human affection, our dreams and ambitions and even what we believe to be God's call on our life in order to obey the Lord regardless of the temporal cost in this life. God promises us His provision to do His will and His promises for eternal blessings for obedience far outweigh any temporal sacrifices.  Eternity is more important than time.  If we believe this, we too will raise the knife and slay whatever keeps us from obedience to God.

           Questions for reflection/application 

Pause and ask the Lord what he is saying to you through this message.

How does James 1:2-5 relate to Abraham's example and God's purpose for us to grow in faith and obedience? "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." 

What does it mean to "fear God" and how does it differ from loving God as a motivation for obedience? What have you done (or refrained from doing) because your feared God?

What did Abraham have to give up, along with his son, to obey God? (Matthew Henry notes the many objections Abraham may have had: "Lord, what profit is there in his blood? How would this consist with the promise? Was it not said that in Isaac shall thy seed be called? But what comes of that seed, if this pregnant bud be broken off so soon? How should he ever look Sarah in the face again? With what face can he return to her and his family with the blood of Isaac sprinkled on his garments and staining all his raiment? and it would be likely to alienate her affections for ever both from him and from his God. What would the Egyptians say, and the Canaanites and the Perizzites who dwelt then in the land? It would be an eternal reproach to Abraham, and to his altars.  These and many similar objections might have been made; but he was infallibly assured that it was indeed a command of God and not a delusion, and this was sufficient to answer them all. Note, God's commands must not be disputed, but obeyed; we must not consult with flesh and blood about them (Gal. 1:15, 16), but with a gracious obstinacy persist in our obedience to them.")  Has God called you to give up something you treasure dearly?

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12) 

Until He comes,
Len and Kristen





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