By Rev. Adam Thompson
For any parent, one of the most harrowing, savage and unimaginable portions of the Bible is when God commands Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. Genesis 22:1-18. The magnitude of the requested sacrifice is huge. After all, Abraham and his wife long thought they would never have a child but were blessed late in life with Isaac. Isaac was their pride and joy. After Abraham binds his only son Isaac to an altar, and just as he is about to slaughter him, an angel of God sounds the blissful reprieve. What does this scene have to do with us? What can we learn from it? Here are three take-aways for you to contemplate during this Lenten season.
Jesus Followers are Not Free From Sacrifice
God does not promise His followers a rose garden. Quite the contrary. The life of a Christian will be filled with sacrifice. Perhaps you’ll be called to sacrifice your reputation when choosing to act in a Godly way rather than the way dictated by the crowd. Perhaps that coveted spot on a scholastic team is jeopardized because involvement interferes attending worship. Maybe your relationships with friends or family have been strained by your desire to follow Christ. When these “tests of faith” arise in your life, how will you react? Will you remain faithful to God?
Believe in God’s Promises
God makes and keeps his promises. Always. Do you believe that? Certainly there are times when it is difficult to continue to believe in his promises. Things happen in our lives — illness, loss of employment, death of a loved one, unfairness. Abraham chose to believe in God’s promise that He would send an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind as he ascended Mt. Moriah. Those times of trial in our lives are opportunities to renew and reaffirm our trust in God’s promises. They are an invitation to deepen our relationship with God.
God is Merciful
At the last moment on Mt. Moriah, God sent his reprieve to both Abarahm and Isaac. God did, in fact, provide His own sacrifice. He does that for us as well. We are all sinners — we can’t help ourselves no matter how hard we try. Notwithstanding our good intentions, we lapse into sin daily. There’s nothing we can do to appease God’s wrath. The wages of sin are eternal death. Despite deserving death for our repeated sins, God loves us, has mercy on us and sends His own sacrifice. Instead of Abraham offering his own son, God offered His own son — Jesus — as the one and only perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind for all eternity. We don’t deserve that but nonetheless God sent a reprieve for our sins.
Comparing our willingness to sacrifice with that of Abraham when faced with a test of faith can be humbling for sure. But take heart — even if you fail the test, God is merciful. He loves you and desires to be merciful despite your failures of faith and obedience.