Thursday, May 4, 2017

HEBREWS 11:17-19

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested,
offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises
was offering up his only begotten son;
it was he to whom it was said,
'In Isaac your descendants shall be called.'
He considered that God is able to raise people
even from the dead, from which
he also received him back as a type."

This is one of those hard stories in the Old Testament.  Imagine old Abraham climbing the mountain, which at his age was enough of an endeavor.  But he had his only son--whom he loved-- picking up firewood as they went along.  He brought the matches (just kidding).  Did he make his son do the boy scout trick of twirling the stick to make a spark in the dry grass blowing on it to make fire?  Who brought the rope to tie down the sacrifice?  Abraham or Isaac?  Was Isaac excited to go on a hike with his dad?  I don't think Abraham was very talkative as he trudged along, do you?  He was tested.  He was struggling in his mind  and heart with what God was saying.  I think I would have talked myself out of it, personally--God wouldn't really tell me to do such a terrible, unthinkable thing!  But God did.  Abraham obeyed.  Did Isaac cry out in terror ripping his father's heart out?  How did Abraham hear the bleating of the sacrifice over his son's frantic pleas for his life?  God had another sacrifice handy in the bush?  God provided.  It was his burning bush experience.  It is a reminder to us that God continues to provide for us by the sacrifice of His only begotten.  Abraham's faith was such that he believed God could raise his son from the dead.  Hmm.  Does that sound familiar?

God only tested, giving Abraham the big question to answer correctly.   It was not multiple choice.  By faith Abraham may have passed, but it was God who was thinking about offering His only begotten Son as a sacrifice, with a resurrection after, a thousand or so years later. 

John Wesley called it "that glorious trial of him, offered up of Isaac--The will being accepted, as if he had actually done it; 'yea he that had received the promises'--Particularly that grand promise, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called,' offered up this very son; the only one he had by Sarah....'Accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead'--Though there had not been any instance of this in the world."  Isaac was "snatched from the jaws of death," as Abraham had his knife quivering over his bound son on the altar. 

Andrew Murray says, "It was faith in God as the almighty One, able to raise up even from the dead. In the birth of Isaac he had learnt to know God as the giver of life, even where he was as good as dead.  He knew and trusted his God who quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as though they were."

Our son revealed that he always thought that R.I.P. meant "rest in pieces."  But Abraham and all our forefathers (and foremothers) in the faith truly did R.I.P. because they had faith that God had the ability to raise them from the dead into the afterlife even before Christ was risen from the dead.  That's stepping out in faith without seeing. 

Nowadays, if a man had tried to do what Abraham did, he would be found criminally unfit to be a parent, and Isaac would have been removed from his tent.  It makes me think that Isaac was fairly young, because a youth could have overpowered his ancient father before being tied to an obvious altar.  It does make you wonder if Isaac himself could see past the trauma of a knife hovering over him while tied to an altar or would he just look back fondly to that bleating of a ram?  Did he call, "Dad! Dad!  Do you hear that!  There's a ram in the bushes.  You don't need me after all.  Please, please, please untie me so I can go find it for you!  I'm really, really good at finding rams!  Just watch me!"

What do you think about this difficult story?

As I've said before, when I pray for my children--whom I love--I have to lay them on an altar of sorts.  I've done all I can do.  I have to take my hands off and give them over to God to do and will as He can, to fit us for heaven to live with Him there.

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