Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV) After these things God tested Abraham and 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 of which I shall tell you.”
Abraham waited 99 years for the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Well advanced past the age of child bearing, it seemed impossible that his wife, Sarah, could conceive yet just as the messenger of the Lord prophesied she would she did. Now years later – some scholars believe that Isaac was in his mid-thirties when Abraham led him to the land of Moriah as God instructed. More than 30 years old means a life of memories, watching his son grow, mature and develop into a man and now God asks his father the one thing that is most precious to him. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Why would Isaac freely go to the altar realizing full well that his life would be required? There is but one word to describe it and you don’t want to hear it. Obedience.
Obedience smacks our pride in the face as it always requires more than our flesh wants to give. Like a hot poker, striking the most sensitive part of our heart to refine us and make us holy and willing. The purpose is to prosper us but it feels like death to that not so freely given. The sacrifice of God provided by His Son, Jesus, is demonstrated by the Abraham moment. Are you willing to give up that thing most precious by faith trusting in God’s Plan? The realm of hope yielded the promise now the promise is required for more. How quickly people stop praying when the answer comes? How immediately is yesterday’s miracle forgotten and tomorrow’s worries consume us again? Taking that which is good and forgetting that our life in God is always ready to yield more. Are you having an Abraham moment? What is the Lord requiring of you today? God is not looking for a sacrifice. He is only searching for obedience.
But what if He doesn’t provide? What if He doesn’t do what He said? What if… We as believers do not serve a “what if” God but a “when He does” kind of God. He is always faithful. He is always good. He is not like man that He should lie or change His Mind. Why would a perfect God change His Perfect Plan? We must be changed. Our hearts soft and reverent in our pursuit of Him. There may be something good required but it is only God’s Greatness that is in store. In fact, He promises it will be more than we can think to ask for or even imagine. Faith is born in obedience. Faith will always require trust. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our faith is weak until it is tested. Will you place that thing on the altar of the Lord and wait for Him to act?
I Samuel 15:21-23 (ESV) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
When a young soldier attends boot camp it is with the intent and purpose to tear down and rebuild the person and develop strong character. The kind of character that relies on obedience to guide each action. This is imperative to the strength of the troop and success in each mission. If there is rebellion or division, the entire group is compromised and in danger from the enemy. It is complete unity and absolute obedience that a strong front is presented. Obedience requires absolute faith and trust in the one who is in charge. To literally put your life and well-being in the words and commands of such an individual. It is no different with the Lord. Completion in Christ requires obedience. Too many times like poor Saul, our power and authority are taken from us because sacrifice is misguided by doing what we want rather than relying on absolute obedience. Tired of waiting? Pressing on wearing you out? Persevering uncomfortable? I encourage you to continue in your well doing and do not grow weary. God desires full obedience because He already made the perfect sacrifice. He wants you to hear His Word and do what He says even if it means lugging to the altar what you value the most. He is really pulling your heartstrings to see if you will meet Him there.
Romans 16:17-20 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Success in the Abraham moments of life changes every outcome for the better. What is sacrifice anyway? It must be something we have to give. Well, every good thing in our life comes from God so it is not our sacrifice. The sacrifice can only be one thing. It is our freedom. Freedom to hold on to that which is good and give it back to Him as required. To sacrifice implies that something I have is of greater worth than anything given to me by the Lord. Think again. It all is from God and it all belongs to Him. My very life once given to Christ in exchange for salvation is not my own any longer. Obedience is my free will to give the Lord what He is asking for. It is the very thing that pleases Him.
The power of obedience is its ability to “the God of Peace” who will “crush Satan under your feet.” When we obey the Lord, the enemy loses all power in our life because there is nothing held in higher regard than our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. It is a full demonstration of allegiance to His Kingdom which backs our stand with armies of angels at the command of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The empowerment of God by faith and trust is when in the midst of great loss or suffering – obedience is chosen over any other act or reasoning. It is the moment that every argument is cast down and our hope fully embraced. When arguments and lofty opinions give way to punishing all disobedience and living in the freedom of total obedience. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) A mind made up in God will always strive for obedience in God’s Word and His Way because it is our connection to His Kingdom. Which leads me to our primary example…
Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The act of obedience demonstrated by Jesus Christ is our example. He prayed for God to deliver Him from the Cross and when God asked for obedience that is exactly what Jesus gave Him…and for us. There is no temptation or trial that overtakes us because even in death there is victory for the believer. The struggle in this life is to have faith and trust God in all things. We have Abraham moments when the Lord tests us looking for obedience. He loves us. He doesn’t want to harm us but to make sure that our heart is set on Him above all things. Idols in our life are quickly identified when God asks us for it. Pride is exposed when our answer is an excuse. An outright “no” driven by fear reveals hidden doubt keeping us from God’s Promises in the first place. Obedience is not God’s Punishment it is a privilege to come to Him and in return, He can do exactly as He promised. What is God asking of you today? Will you obey? Jesus did. Will you? Will I?
Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!