Sacrificing your son

There you were minding your own business enjoying the son that God had promised you many years ago. Now everything had fallen into place. What could possible go wrong? Then you heard the voice of your God, the voice that had always comforted you, the voice that had always directed you. How many blessings had you received by just listening to this voice? The day just couldn’t get any better, except God made the strangest request. This loving, faithful God who hated evil and sin had just asked you to commit the most heinous act of sacrificing your son.

What do you do? Abraham found himself in this position. (Genesis 22:1-2) What is remarkable is that Abraham’s faith never faltered. He followed God’s direction to the letter.

He went to where God directed him to go, laid down the wood and placed his son on the altar. He then raised his knife and at the very last moment was stopped by God. (Genesis 22:9-12)

God provided a ram for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:13) This must have felt like the definition of relief. Isaac was spared and Abraham did not lose his son. Beyond any doubt he proved his love and obedience to God.

Jesus reminds us that we must love God above all things. (Matthew 22:37-38) Consider those things that have the most value to you. Now consider the people you love the most. Are they more important to you than God? Would we be willing to sacrifice our relationship with God to please them?

Abraham was willing to lose his son for God. What are we willing to surrender to please God and have a closer relationship with God? This is the God who has already proven His love to us. God is the father who actually did sacrifice His son Jesus so that we might be forgiven and be saved. It was the sacrifice of His son Jesus that paid the debt of our sin and allowed us to be called sons of God.

He has shown us His love. Perhaps it is our turn to show Him our love.

 

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Elijah against 450 Priests

It was truly a spectacle for all of Israel. Elijah had challenged the king and the god Baal. He stood alone against 450 of Baal’s priests and all the people of Israel who had already turned from God. Baal’s priests placed a bull on an altar of wood. Elijah instructed them not to set a fire but to call for fire from their god. It seemed like a small thing for a mighty god to do. Four hundred and fifty priests called upon their god, Baal. They called and called from morning until noon. But he did not answer. Perhaps he was on vacation or asleep. Perhaps Baal was busy. Elijah, the prophet of God even made fun teasing the Baal prophets. (1 kings 18:27) In any case no fire. They began to get desperate and decided to cut themselves with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out. (1 kings 18:29)

Elijah had enough and decided to end the game. He called the people of Israel close to him. He wanted to make sure they didn’t miss a thing. Elijah the prophet was not just out there having fun. He desperately wanted his people to know the true God. He built his own alter and it included a trench which he filled with water, to make the burning of the sacrifice that much harder. Elijah did not mutilate himself. No bleeding necessary. He did not scream. He was calm and made a short simple prayer.

“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

Then without a moment wasted a powerful flame descended upon the soaked alter and consumed everything, the bull, the wood and even the water. It was all gone. Elijah got his wish, as all the people fell on their faces and proclaimed, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 kings 18:39)

Elijah may have been only one man. But He knew he had to stand by the truth and do what was right even if it wasn’t popular. It is troubling to feel alone. We would all like to be popular and have many followers. It we would be great if all our ideas were well accepted by everyone. Life would sure be easy if we never had a disagreement. But when believing in God is not popular we have no choice but to stand alone. When everyone around us says the bible is just a fable, we must be willing to be different. Saying that Jesus is lord and Savior may not be the most acceptable belief but like Elijah we must stand by the truth. I cannot promise that we will see fire fall from Heaven, but I know that you will not be completely alone. Christ said He would be with us until the end. (Matthew 28:20) He also said “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33)

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Esau’s bad trade

Esau was sweaty and out of breath, totally exhausted after a hard day’s work of hunting. He wanted two things, to eat and to rest. It is pretty much how most of us feel after a long hard day. We get home and want to just collapse on the living room sofa and perhaps if someone could just bring us our favorite meal, everything would be perfect. Jacob was more than ready to please. The wise younger brother had prepared a splendid meal that Esau could not resist and I am sure many of us would not resist either. However Jacob was not as nice as we would hope, nor was he so generous. Jacob was a man with a plan. (Genesis 25:29-34)

Jacob understood that blessings were worth more than rest or food. He understood how to make a good trade. Jesus also talked about trades. He said “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) Much of what we can obtain in this world comes with a price. It will cost us money, or our time. Jesus made it clear that as we embark on our adventures of conquest, whether they are to obtain wealth, success, recognition, a higher position, or even someone’s favor, we must be sure of what the price is, because we don’t want to lose our souls. We never want to do anything that compromises our principals, our morality and most importantly our relationship with God!

Certainly this means saying no when asked to do something that we know is immoral, but it also means saying no when our time and energy is consumed, leaving little time for God. Our salvation is a great treasure that cannot so easily be surrendered. Our walk with God must be cultivated and developed to its fullest maturity and this takes time.

Esau ignored his great treasure and surrendered it easily. Jacob held that delicious plate of food, whose aroma must have truly been overwhelming, and simply asked for Esau’s birthright. Surely this meant great blessings, an inheritance and rights that should rightly belong to the eldest Esau. Esau agreed and filled his stomach and rested. Jacob would become the father of all Israelites, the chosen people, and from his lineage would descend the Messiah.

Let us not sell our great blessing for so little, all that this world has to offer pales in comparison to all eternity. Let us guard our salvation as it is our greatest treasure.

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Super sale, a lesson in patience

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Genesis 21:5

The holiday season will be sneaking up on us and Christmas shopping has already begun. The smartest among us have already bought plenty of gifts and most of it on-line. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try some of us always land up buying some gifts late. But the worst is when we have to go in person to that local department store having that super sale at the last minute. Then we’re face to face with the longest lines we could possible imagine. Patience then is not only a virtue but a necessity. We have no other choice.

Waiting on God often feels the same way. Especially if you have an aggressive nature like myself. Abraham had to wait a whole lot longer than me and managed to keep his faith. He was called out from his comfortable home and taken on a journey that would take him over all of the Middle East, including Egypt, on the promise of being the father of many nations and inheriting the Promised Land.

The problem is that Abraham didn’t even have a son. He patiently waited until the ripe old age of 100, to finally receive the promised son through his wife Sarah. He did this while faithfully following God’s directions, worshiping Him and sincerely trying his best to live a righteousness life. There were wars, family conflicts, various trials and a whole lot of waiting. However Abraham received all that God had promised.

We too must often wait on God’s promises. He is faithful and his reward will be finer than the super sale at the local department store.