Friday, June 16, 2006

Abraham's Journey of Obedience

I was studying Genesis 22 today, in preparation for Father's Day, and something struck me. Those who are familiar with the story know that God is testing Abraham's faith. God has told Abraham to take his son (i.e.- his only son, Isaac, who he loves) and sacrifice him on a mountain to which God will lead him. The overwhelming fact that a father is told to sacrifice his son...the son of promise...the son through which God has said He will bless all nations...that's one thing. That's enough, isn't it? Fathers, you know what I mean. Abraham's obedience is truly stunning, but I think what makes it even more stunning is the timing of the whole thing. After the command comes, Abraham sleeps on it. It's not until "early the next morning" that he gets up to leave. He has to gather the wood, instruct his servants that they are going, and inform his son that they will go to worship the Lord together. How do you sleep after those conversations? His determination to obey the Lord comes through...but even more in what happens next. The day they set out was not the day they climbed the mountain. Verse 4 says that it was on the third day that they got to the base of the mountain, left the servants behind, and ascended the hill to worship. Did the thought ever enter Abraham's mind? - "Maybe I should turn back...Isaac is the son of promise, after all. God doesn't really want him dead, does he?" Whether it ever did or not is actually unnecessary to determine. What is obvious should amaze us. Abraham, no matter the turmoil, was determined to obey the determined that he spoke to his servants, prepared his son, slept, and traveled three days with his soon-to-be-sacrificed son by his side, ascended the hill, built the altar, placed his son on it, and raised his hand to kill him.

Why? Because his loyalty was to his God. Because he knew that "God himself [would] provide the lamb" (v. 8). Because he "reasoned that God could raise the dead" (Heb. 11:19). Because "his faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:22b).

Just as God called Abraham out of a far country, we have been called out of the far country of sin. God has provided our lamb, and we are convinced that God has raised Christ from the dead and will raise us as well. Let us be committed to obedience. No matter the journey, no matter the turmoil, no matter the sacrifice...may our faith be made complete by what we do. As Abraham's faith was counted as righteousness by God (Gen. 15:6) and then was displayed by his righteousness of life, may it be so with us. For we are not our own...we are bought with a price.