Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”
Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
It had been more than a month since I had last been in the pulpit so when I started this sermon and series of messages it involved a lot of recap. That said the basic issue is that it takes about 11 chapters of the Bible for humanity to get firmly in a mess they cannot get out of on their own and it will take the rest of the bible to show us how God made a way for us to get out. The history of the bible is the history of the God-Man interaction to get us back to the place we were at the beginning but things are changed in some ways that innocence cannot truly be recovered. The issue is getting back to a place where mankind can walk in each other’s presence once again. It starts with a guy named Abraham.
I have moved forward in the story of Abraham to near the end. Abraham up to this point has been far from perfect as he has failed God on a couple of occasions but his main claim to fame has never been his perfection but his faith despite imperfection both in his knowledge of God and his actions. His faith in God is probably the most tested of all when he reaches the point that God asks him to sacrifice his son.
As an open theist, I believe the test is completely legitimate from both Abraham’s and God’s perspective. God openly says when Abraham finishes the test successfully – “Now I know that you fear God”. This indicates that before he did not know this. God knew Abraham could pass this test or fail it but which choice he would actually make was completely up to Abraham and thus unknowable to anyone until it was actually made. He rejoices when Abraham succeeds and the test has great value because of this. It illustrates a couple of points for us.
- God does not grade our faith on a curve. We either have it or we do not. This is why Jesus can say faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to move mountains. Either we believe certain thing about our relationship or we don’t.
- Our relationship with God is also not graded on a curve. We are either faithful or we are not. God expects complete faithfulness including giving up our own spouses, children, lives and everything else should he ask. There is no such thing as being 80% or 60% faithful. I mean what spouse would accept on their wedding day – “I will be faithful only to you 80% of the time.”
These are lessons that we must learn if we are to start the path God has created to get out of this mess.
Blessings and Cheers!!!