Sunday, April 17, 2011


Imagine if one day God told you to move to a land far away. A land where you had no family (aside from your wife that would be traveling with you and your servants). A land where you had no land, because your family's land was in the land you were leaving. In Genesis 12, this was the situation Abraham was facing when God told him, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (vs. 1-3)
Imagine a little while later, after God has brought you to this new land and provided for your needs. Imagine the Lord telling you, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” One small problem. You have no children. You're 99 years old. And your wife? She's 90. It seems like an impossibility. These promises that the Lord is making sound impossible. But you have faith. God reassures you that he has provided for you thus far. And he keeps his promises, even after you and your wife sin. Sarah decides not to trust God, so she has Abraham sleep with her slave-girl, Hagar. All seems like it's going wrong. But then, God steps in. He tells you, I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” God promises to always be there. He has so not forgotten you. Then, he adds that Sarah will give birth to a son, that you will name Issac, about this time next year. God keeps his promise and a year later, the following story plays out:
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. -Genesis 21:1-5
This happens after Abraham and Sarah tried to convince various kings that they were brother and sister because they did not trust God to protect them as a married couple because Sarah was so pretty. This happens after Hagar, the aforementioned slave-girl, gives birth to a son named Ishmael. This happens after Abraham and Sarah were incredibly unfaithful. Yet, God stayed faithful. He did exactly what he had promised.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Issac grows into a young boy. And then, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. He says, "Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (22:2) God asks Abraham to give up his most prized possession. At the same time, God puts the covenant at risk. Abraham must have been thinking about how ridiculous he was for trusting God. I mean, Abraham was over a hundred at this point. Sarah was in her nineties. The chances of her getting pregnant again were slim. And, I mean...what would she do when he came home empty handed without their son? How would God keep his covenant if Issac died? How would Abraham have many descendants if his son died? If he had no family line, how could the covenant be kept. But then, God came through.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”   “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven.“This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me." -Genesis 22:9-18
Even in the darkest hour, when Abraham was sure he had been tricked, God came through and remained faithful. Even when Abraham was unfaithful, God stayed faithful. Abraham's story is an amazing illustration of God's faithfulness. Yes, God's plans don't always make sense. They sometimes sound kind of funny. But in the end, it will be worth it. God will stay faithful.

1. Abraham and Sarah thought that it was impossible for them to have a child at 90 and 100 years old. Yet, God promised Abraham he would have many descendants. God kept this promise when Sarah gave birth to Issac. What is something "impossible" that can be made "possible" by God?
2. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, the one he loved so much. What is the "Issac" in your life that you have put before God? How may God be asking you to "sacrifice" it so that the glory can go to his name? When we obey God and don't withhold our best, he can bless us and show his glory so much more than we could ever ask or imagine.

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