To: en & others
From: Su Min
My dear children,
The story of the sacrifice of Isaac is one of the better known elements from the OT. We did visit Mt. Moriah during our Israel pilgrimage, and the church built on Mt. Moriah has many bas relief carvings, statues and paintings commemorating the event.
The passage today is Genesis Chapter 22, but the build up starts way back at Gen 12, when God calls Abraham in Haran, instructs him to the triple leave (country, people, father's household) and promises to make him a great nation (Gen 12:1-2)
We read in Gen 16 how Sarah's plan to use Hagar to produce an heir backfires, pregnant Hagar running to the desert, counselled by the Angel of the Lord, and returning home to give birth to Ishmael. In Gen 18 we read of the 3 angelic visitors promising the arrival of a son to Sarah and Isaac, and Sarah laughed. And in Gen 21 we read of Isaac's birth, and of the dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael.
So it would seem that Isaac grows up in the household of Abraham, and must have been taught to love God and walk in his way as Abraham did. Surely Sarah and Abraham must have loved him dearly, and looked to him as the direct line from which the great nation would spring.
And now we read in Gen 22:1, that after some time later, God calls Abraham, and Abraham responds promptly, "Here I am."
To me, that is a lesson. If God calls me, will I here? will I respond? Too often I am tuned to a different frequency. More interested in self. More interested in TV, newspaper, movies. Not that any of these are wrong in themselves. But when the interest and focus becomes overwhelming, then focusing on things of the world naturally and without exception, cause us to become unfocussed in relationship to God. So I thank God for entertainment, diversions, hobby, work. And I thank God for allowing me to enjoy them. But at the same time I set aside time to worship him and study his word and talk with him, that when I hear him I may recognise his voice, and having prepared and trained myself, when his calls, I WILL say, "Here I am Lord".
God gives the fateful instruction to Abraham (Gen 22:2). "Take your son, your only son Isaac (so this can not mean Ishmael), whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
We are not told of Abraham's mental response to this instruction. Any query, any argument, any protest? We don't know. But we know that he acted promptly. Later in Hebrews 11:17 we read that by faith, Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from the dead.
It is early the next morning that Abraham prepares for the three day journey. With two servants, a donkey, and Isaac, he collects firewood and sets out towards Mt. Moriah (Gen 22:3). When they are in sight of the site, he instructs the servants to wait. He places the firewood on Isaac (like the cross on Jesus?) and father and son proceed up Mt. Moriah. Isaac asks a sensible question (Gen 22:7) and is given a cryptic answer Gen 22:8. How did Abraham know how to give this answer. It must have grieved him that he was talking to the lamb. Yet Abraham fully trusted God. He must have assumed that he was to really sacrifice Isaac. The drama reaches a peak in Gen 22:10, and resolves in vs 11. God calls to Abraham, and Abraham replies, "Here I am" (Gen 22:11) If Abraham was not in tune and was not focused, what would have happened if he did not hear or heed the voice of God at that juncture? But praise God, he did. God sees that Abraham is truly obedient, and provides a ram for the sacrifice. Jehovah Jireh, My God Provides (Gen 22:14). God reiterates the promise for countless descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as many as the sand on the seashore (Gen 22:17) (cf. Gen, 13:16 dust, Gen 15:5, stars).
There are many lessons to be learned from this passage, lessons of obedience, lessons of readiness, lessons of awareness of Gods purpose and calling, but most of all, the lesson of God's provision for us, God meeting us at our every point of need.
Shall we close in prayer, using Psalm 103, 1-6
Praise the Lord O my soul all my inmost being praise his Holy NameLove dad
Praise the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion
He satisfies my desires with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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