Summary: Faith when life is chaotic, when the unexplainable unfolds
“I Trust You, Lord, Even In Moments of Seeming Madness”
The story of the high school shootings in Littleton, CO began to unfold on Tuesday evening in the news. The horror of what happened there only deepened as the week went on. Two boys -- who were intelligent, healthy, and from advantaged middle class families – moved through the halls of their schools picking out athletes and scholars... and devout Christians... for execution. By the end of their rampage, they had killed 12 students and 1 teacher and then they took their own lives. One of these boys told a friend that since he was graduating in 19 days he had nothing more to live for. Madness...
Parallel to this we are treated to pictures and stories from a place far away called the Balkan states where hatred rules. A million Kosovar people are living in constant fear, hunger, and deprivation because of the so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ being ordered by Slobodan Milosevec. Millions more in Serbia live in increasing terror and deprivation as we ran down death and destruction from our war machines in the sky. Hatred met with hatred... Madness...
Life doesn’t come wrapped in neat packages with easy assembly instructions! Hard trials, difficult decisions, encounters with evil spirits and evil people, moments when God doesn’t make sense – all these come our way. In these moments of seeming madness there is a question we must all answer – can I, will I trust God?
Faith has been the subject as we work our way through the great chapter of Scripture, Hebrews 11. In week one we defined faith as being a sure hope, a certainty of the unseen world of the Spirit. Such a perspective moves those full of faith to seek God and to serve Him in obedience. In week two we considered the power of faith to connect us to eternity and the promises of God. Abraham was our model and we took note of his willingness to leave behind his culture and his comfort to seek God’s presence. His faith to trust God for an heir even as he approached 100 years of age is a model for us in trusting God to keep His promises.
Today we will see evidence of the tremendous faith of Abraham as he trusted God through a time of testing that had to seem like madness to him as he passed through it. It tested the depth of this man’s faith like no other test in his life. The great news? HE PASSED THE TEST! His example for us is flawless.
The text for this morning – Hebrews 11:17-19
The fuller account is found in Genesis 22:1-4
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, 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.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
About 15 years into his promised son’s life, after years of delight and raised expectations in this true son, God speaks once again to Abraham. This time the words are not words of comfort or promise. They are words that seem, at first hearing, to be madness.... sheer insanity –
Take your son, your only son, Isaac, 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.
Mt. Moriah is a significant place to this day. Today it is the site at the heart of the old city of Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock Mosque stands. It was from the time of David to Jesus, the site of the Jews temple, the center of their religion. But in Abraham’s time it was just another mountain in the desolate region of Canaan.
Can you imagine what a blow this was to Abraham? Nothing in the Scripture tells us what is in his mind, what emotions he struggled with. But it is not hard to imagine. First in his mind would have been shocked bewilderment –
“God, I know Your voice. I have walked with You, worshiped You, listened to You for years now. How could You ask this?”
We know the whole story. We know that God never had any intent to take this test to its ultimate end... but Abraham did not have that advantage. He only knew that he was faced with the most difficult test of his entire life!