Thursday, April 28, 2011

Genesis 22:1-2

Have you ever noticed that in order to learn some lessons, we need a hands-on experience? Many things we can easily learn from a book or a lecture, but there are some harder lessons that are best learned hands-on or through role play. Yesterday my class was getting a hands-on science lesson in our science lab from Mr. Fogg, the science guy who visits our school. He was teaching them about weathering, erosion, and deposition. After drawing the process in cartoon fashion on the wipeboard and chanting with them, he took them outside and had them act it out. Wouldn’t you know it was the one day all year when I did NOT bring my camera with me to the lab! It was hysterical to watch them all get into a tightly-packed group as they acted out a large rock. When Mr. Fogg called out, “Weathering,” they had to separate and twirl apart, singing in a high-pitched voice, “Erosion.” Then, when he called out “Deposition,” they had to drop wherever they were. They repeated the scene several times, with different outcomes on the deposition. I thought, as I watched them, “They will never forget this!” Which is a good thing, because state testing starts in a week, and science is covered in 5th grade! :)

So, I was reminded as I was reviewing my notes from Beth Moore on this portion of scripture, that this story of Abraham’s test is an “acting out” of the gospel, which Abraham would NEVER forget! In this scene, Abraham plays the role of God the Father, and Isaac the role of Jesus, God’s only Son. Galatians 3:6-9, below, shows how this was the telling of the gospel in the Old Testament. It preceded the giving of the Law, and the concept that righteousness comes by faith in the substitutionary death of Christ, not by our own works of the Law. This has consistently been God’s plan of salvation from the Old to the New Testament. God wanted Abraham to get this and to pass this test!

So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Now, let’s go back and look at how God called Abraham to this test. Yesterday I said we don’t want to over-spiritualize this passage, as if this was an easy thing for this spiritual giant. This was NOT a slam-dunk for Abraham. Nothing in his entire life would compare with this test. But, as Beth Moore says in her study of this, “When God is up to something hard, He’s up to something HUGE.” The ripple effects from this will be HUGE - and it was NOT about Abraham - it was ALL about God. God is going to teach Abraham something here about Himself that Abraham needed to know experientially, and He drives the point home right away:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Gen. 22:1-2)

When God calls, Abraham shows no hesitation. “Whatever you want, God, I’m here to do it!” He’s ready to submit! Then God shows him how great the cost will be. Beth Moore points out that God starts with a wide-angle approach, then zeros in with intensity on the cost. “Take your son, your ONLY son, whom you LOVE - ISAAC!” Remember that Isaac is the son of promise, and therefore the chosen one. Abraham and Sarah, having waited so long for this promised son, treasured him as their most precious gift. God had given them this gift, and now he was asking Abraham to give it back! Like all of us, we are happy to give our children to God - in theory. We KNOW in our heads that they belong to HIM, but our hearts want to keep them and control all that happens to them. If God called them to move away or sent them on a mission, it would be painful to release them, and we would surely agonize over it. But here, God is calling Abraham to literally lay Isaac on the altar and sacrifice him.

God tells Abraham to “go to” Mt. Moriah. In Genesis 12:1 God had also told him to “go to” a land away from all he knew. In fact, Beth Moore points out that this verse in Genesis 12 follows that same zooming in effect: Abraham is told to leave his country, his people, and, even more difficult, his father’s household. Just as Abraham obeyed then (Gen 12:4 says “So Abram left as the LORD had told him”), he obeys immediately in this chapter: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.” (Gen 22:3) I imagine he had not slept a wink the night before! Do you think he told Sarah??? I doubt it!

Tomorrow we’ll look at this journey to Mt. Moriah!

Have a great morning!

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