Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Genesis 22:1

Good morning, all! We are going to be parking in Genesis 22 for a while, because it is such an important chapter, with so much to teach! Many of us have heard this story for years - it brings back images of a Sunday School flannel board story. I can only imagine that for most children it’s a perplexing, even frightening story, because it’s perplexing for adults. Why does God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Why does he take him all the way to the point of raising the knife over his beloved son? What was going through Isaac’s mind as it all unfolded?

Let’s get started by just looking at the first verse:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

Now, I’m already wondering about why God would test Abraham? Was it to prove something to God?? Of course not! God knew beforehand exactly what Abraham would do, so why did He bother to “test” him? The tests that come our way are not to prove anything to God, but to US! God was proving Abraham’s faith to Abraham, himself, and to all who would learn of this story. Just like the testing of Job, this was a test with a purpose. God had a plan for Abraham, and an end result in mind. When Job, a man lauded as righteous by God, lost EVERYTHING and EVERYONE dear to him, he finally came to the place where he could say, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

Our tests will prove to us not only what God can do, but what we will hold to. As Beth Moore says, “Some things need to be learned on a field trip, not in the classroom.” The hardest test a parent can face is the loss of a child. Watching my dear sister, Jodi, go through this has been so painful. None of us can imagine what it must be like. Years ago I was told something profound by a woman I knew, who had lost a toddler. Our Bible study group was trying to imagine such an ordeal, and she said to us, “God doesn’t give you grace to go through something in your imagination. He gives you the grace when you need it.” WOW! I’m seeing His grace poured out on my sister. Even though she is in tremendous pain, God is giving her just what she needs to get through each day, one minute at a time.

Beth Moore points out that when it comes to our submission to God, we generally will give Him most of what we love, but not what we love most. “God, you can have everything I own, but please don’t touch my children!” Right? “Bless them. God, don’t let them go through any suffering.” I get that prayer - and I think it is RIGHT that we should pray for blessing on them. But the greatest blessing will ALWAYS be God’s plan - which may, and probably will include trials and tribulations. There’s that great promise of Jesus in John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

What we don’t want to do here, with this passage is spiritualize away the reality of the trial. It was a REAL event, which would have created REAL anguish for Abraham. I’m anxious to see all that God has for us in this passage!

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