Summary: Surrender of one’s will to God is all we have to serve Him with.
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” Genesis 22:1 - 2 NRSV
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. John 12:26 NRSV
In Genesis 22 we have one of the most antagonistic, most mysterious and troubling commands from heaven. God instructed Abraham to take his beloved son, Isaac to a mountain, and told the father to kill his son. These words aren’t there, but the picture is – slit his throat like you’d butcher a goat; let the blood run out, and with the dark red life-blood of your son trickling away, cremate his corpse – as an offering of worship to Me.
Whenever this passage is read, and considered carefully, it must be that questions arise. Was God some capricious monster, demanding the sacrifice of some curly-headed teenager? What about His promises to Abraham about blessings coming through that son for all generations?
And why make Abraham the executioner? It’s bad enough when a child dies – worse when it is a tragic, painful death. But to make a father, a loving 110 year-old father slit the throat of his only son? Such is the problem list whenever we face the trust-grid. God says do this, and the game is on!
I have to admit - for many years I personally questioned this request of God’s; and perhaps even more puzzling, the immediate obedience of Abraham. There was no procrastination, no bargaining, no delay! This is your son; are ya nuts, Abraham?
In just a night’s time, Abraham moves out to obey the order to be jailer, transport and executioner of this child he loved. He cut the wood, kissed Sarah goodbye, rounded-up Isaac and headed for Moriah. I admit, I do not understand the mind of Abraham.
The rest of the story is so well known: Abraham left the servant at the base of Mt. Moriah, took Isaac, wood, fire and the knife. They climbed the mountain and got to the task. Issaac looks around, Father, I see we have wood, fire and an altar – where’s the animal? Abraham answers his son as he sat sharpening the blade, God will provide, son.
In the last instant, just as Abraham’s arm is raised to plunge that ceremonial knife in Isaac’s throat, the Lord calls to him out of heaven…don’t touch a hair on his head. The game is over – test accomplished, God is pleased, now I’ll bless you.
Whew! Whenever we get past the incident I feel like I can breathe. We are so afraid the voice won’t come, that Abraham won’t be the father of the faithful – only a child-murderer.
Abraham and Us
And, yet, there’s more; and it worries us. You see, what lurks behind this testing of Abraham is the fact that, since God tested Abraham, it could happen to you (or even worse…me!).
Strange as it may seem, this is the crucial factor in the cementing of relationship between God and Abraham. Abraham saw his own faith fleshed-out in his willingness to offer the son he loved.
What is God up to with this?
What is it that God is up to here? He is testing. God tested Abraham; He still tests people today. Does He want to know how much we can stand? If so, I’d rather not take that course!
However, I think not; I rather think God tests so we will be able to see that we are given the strength to handle whatever God has called upon us to do. God doesn’t need to see if you can handle it – you do!
Abraham made his choice – to obey.
This is also the choice which is ours – not whether we will be tested, but whether we will serve God by putting our will second to His. In the case of Abraham, complete surrender to God’s will became the act by which he was strengthened to carry out God’s plan.
Surrender to the will of God is the opening of your life, heart, family, career – everything there is about you, for the express purpose of allowing the Father to pick you up like Abraham picked up Isaac, bound him on the altar of sacrifice. Only in this case we become (as Paul wrote) a living sacrifice.
Question before the house
Do you want this blessing of God in your life? Do you want the kind of relationship with God that Abraham had, where by faith he and God were called friends?