Friday, March 15, 2019
In our study of faith from the life of Abraham we come to a climactic event that tests his faith to the nth degree.
Genesis 22:1-3 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 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.” 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.
Abraham is commanded by God to take the son that has already been declared the son of the covenant and sacrifice him to the Lord. When I read this story, I am overwhelmed with the emotions that I would feel, the questions that I would ask, and the rationale I would use to support my disobedience. But we read of no such emotions or questions or excuses from Abraham. His faith in God was so strong that he simply obeyed and left the outcome to God.
Follow me along a little journey for a moment. Abraham is told to go to the region of Moriah to make the sacrifice. Moriah is mentioned only one other time in Scripture, in 2 Chronicles 3:2, where we read that “Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.” The place where God instructed the people to build the temple for the worship of God was the place of Abraham’s sacrifice.
It seems that God is saying that true worship is a sacrifice of anything connected to self on the altar of surrender to the will of God. This is what Paul means in Romans 12:1 when he writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” Mature faith makes the supreme sacrifice of self as a response to God’s mercy.
So what was the real test of Abraham’s faith? I think the answer is simple but so very difficult to live. God wanted to know if Abraham’s faith was in God Himself or in the promises God have given him. This is a HUGE issue for all of us. Faith in God must not be confused with faith in what God can do.
Years ago, the music group The Imperials sang a song called Because of Who You Are. The lyrics state that our faith stands not in what God can do but in the very nature of God Himself. That message has been restated by the group Casting Crowns in their song lyrics “Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done; not because of what I’ve done, but because of Who You are.”
Paul does not state in Romans 12:1 that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in view of God’s promises, or in view of God’s actions, but rather in view of God’s mercy, which is His nature. Our faith is mature when we trust God’s nature and character. Not His promises, nor His actions, but His Being!
Let me illustrate. When you fly in an airplane, in what do you place your trust? My faith is not in the safety record of the airline, or the sobriety of the pilot, or the pleasantness of the flight attendant: my faith is in the airplane itself. I cannot choose which parts of the airplane to trust, I must trust the whole plane. In fact, I saw a cartoon recently that said, “Did you know that an airplane is made up of 150,00 parts that by themselves cannot fly?” I must trust the complete plane. That is a very simple example of what our faith in God must be like.
We all fight this kind of faith. We allow emotions, questions, and excuses to interfere with absolute dependence upon God. We have settled for an immature faith that trusts God’s promises or depends upon God’s actions, when God wants us to totally trust Him for Who He is. I hope you can see the distinction, and I trust that the Holy Spirit is creating a passion in your heart for that kind of relationship with the Father.