March 30, the Nineteenth Day of Lent

March 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

-Hebrews 11.17-19-

Today we will look at the complete thought presented by the author of Hebrews regarding Abraham sacrificing Isaac. (The story can be found in Genesis 22.1-19.) Keeping in mind the questions raised from the past couple of days, we will now look at why Abraham was able to act in the way that he did.

The Scripture says that Abraham believed that God would bring Isaac back to life if Abraham killed him. Despite the fact that God gave him a command that ran contrary to the promises God gave him earlier, Abraham had seen God work miracles to fulfill the promise before; he was confident that God would do it again. The author of Hebrews says that, in a way, Abraham did get his son back from the dead; Abraham had made up his mind to go ahead and offer Isaac. He had reached a point of decision.

This event in Abraham’s life of faith tells us much about Abraham’s understanding of his relationship with God. First, he understood God to be faithful; that, no matter what, God would fulfill the promise. Second, he understood God to be able; he knew that God was capable of doing whatever was necessary to be sure that the promise was kept. Abraham saw himself in the position of a servant; one who places complete trust in God and who obeys his commands.

This is not to say that Abraham did not blink when God commanded him to sacrifice his son, or have any doubts at this point. However, his relationship with God was strong enough to walk forward through the uncertainty. J. Wesley Adams says, “God’s integrity and God’s power were the source of Abraham’s assurance and certainty.” Abraham had seen God do the impossible before; he knew that the impossible could, and would, happen again.

In this season of Lent, this troubling tale reminds us of a similar event: of God the Father sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. When we look at these two events side-by-side, we can see that Abraham knew God well; even though God provided another way for Isaac to be delivered, God raised Christ up from the dead.

Abraham’s faith in God came out of his relationship with God and his understanding of God’s acts on his behalf in the past. His life presents us with a powerful example of what the faith-filled life looks like as well as a stirring challenge to live accordingly.

As we journey through Lent together, may our relationship with God birth our faith.

“Dear Lord, I confess that I am forgetful. Even though you have provided for me before, I still worry and question about how you will in the future. Please forgive me for my lack of faith and help me to grow into a stronger relationship with you. Help me to have faith in your integrity and your power and take you at your word. Amen.”

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