Summary: “God said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”.” (Gen 22:12)
Theme: Sacrificial life
Text: Gen. 22:1-14; Rom. 6:12-23; Matt. 10:40-42
A sacrificial life is a life that is set apart to God. This life is not about pleasing yourself but about pleasing God by doing His will. Jesus Christ lived such a life and everything He did was to please God by doing His will. He gave His life to redeem mankind from slavery to sin and the devil as it was God’s revealed way to deal with sin. As believers our lives are set apart to God with Jesus Christ as our example. Satan has however copied the sacrificial life of the believer and effectively uses it to serve his own purpose. Just as believers please God by doing His will unbelievers please the devil by not doing God’s will. Unfortunately unbelievers are more committed to pleasing the devil than believers to pleasing God. Is this not the reason why there is so much evil in the world today? Unbelievers are the terrorists who are prepared to die to cause pain, suffering and death. They are the drug dealers who go to great lengths to carry out their illegal activities without caring about the harm their victims suffer. When believers are really committed to pleasing Christ by doing His will they will be able to put a stop to much of the suffering and harm being caused in the world today. The sacrificial life of the believer will bring about God’s blessings of joy, health and abundant life.
A sacrificial life begins with knowing about God and His will and this is why sharing the good news is so important. It is however possible to know about God and His will and not know God. The devil knows about God and can quote Scripture but he does not know God. His actions are proof as they are all contrary to the Word of God. It is therefore not enough to know about God and His will. We need to know God through a personal relationship with Him. It is only by knowing Christ through a personal relationship that one becomes a child of God. This is the only way to benefit from a sacrificial life. A person who knows God intimately is will also understand that everything in life is about God and not about us.
A sacrificial life is made possible by the sacrifice of Christ. Under the old covenant a person who had sinned would bring an animal sacrifice to the priest. The priest would pray to supernaturally transfer the sin of the one offering the sacrifice to the animal. The animal is then killed and placed on the altar. Once the sacrifice is placed on the altar it is set apart to God. It is then burnt as a picture of the fiery judgement of God on sin. The animal sacrifice was always consumed by the fire of God’s judgement which was an indication that the judgement of God was far greater than the sacrifice. This is the reason why the sacrifice had to be offered again and again and was only effective for a period of time. In the case of the sacrifice of Christ He endured the full judgement of God and was not consumed. This is an indication that the sacrifice was far greater than the judgement of God and therefore did not need to be ever repeated again. Christ has paid far more than was needed for our salvation and by accepting Him as our Lord and Saviour we are identified with His death and resurrection and are set apart to live a sacrificial life.
A sacrificial life obeys God and the life of Christ was a sacrificial one. He acted in total obedience to the will of God. Abraham, the father of all who believe, knew God’s will and obeyed Him when God told him to offer up his son as a burnt offering. He did not wait to analyse what God had said but gathered up all he needed and left early the next morning in obedience to the Word of God. Abraham behaved the way he did because he trusted God. He remembered and believed the promises of God when He told him “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore”. Abraham saw the sacrifice of Isaac as worship and was convinced that the two of them would return. (Gen 22:5) Abraham not only trusted in the promises of God but also in the provisions of God. When Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the burnt offering was his reply was, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering”. (Gen 22:8)
Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac when God substituted a lamb. When God sacrificed His Son there was no substitute that could take His place. There are many similarities between the sacrifice of Isaac that God prevented at the last moment and the sacrifice of Christ that God allowed to happen. Both events took place on Mount Moriah. Abraham took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Isaac carried the wood himself and Jesus carried His own wooden cross. Finally God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram caught in a thicket by its horns, for a burnt offering. But in the case of His Son Jesus Christ there was no possibility of a substitute. He was the Lamb of God with a crown of thorns on His head who was crucified to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus Christ is our perfect sacrifice. He died to pay the penalty for sin to redeem us from slavery to sin and the devil. The price has been paid in full and all we need to do is to accept what Christ has done for us and turn to Him as our Lord and Saviour.