Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Patriarchs

I'm taking part in a Beth Moore Bible study right now called "The Patriarchs - Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." I've read most of these passages from Genesis many times, but I've only done one other in-depth study about this part of the Bible. This morning, we were reading the passage where God asks Abraham to take Isaac up Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. Ever since I first heard this story, I've struggled to imagine how a loving parent could do such a thing, even if the God of the universe asked him to do it. I always rationalized it to myself by assuming that Abraham knew in his heart that God would stop him at the last minute. I just couldn't imagine it any other way. And now that I'm a parent, it's even harder for me to imagine being obedient in this way. Beth Moore had an interesting insight when she said, "We'll give Him most of what we love, but we won't give Him what we love most."  How true that is.  Another interesting thing I had not thought of before is that Isaac could have resisted the sacrifice.  He was probably an adolescent by this time, and it shouldn't have been to difficult for him to overpower his quite elderly father.  But, like Christ, he willingly submitted to his father. 

One particular thing that floored me this morning was what we read in Hebrews 11:17-19. This passage says that when Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. This is just amazing to me for two reasons:

1) What faith Abraham had! Scripture does not document any instances before this time where God raised anyone from the dead, yet Abraham reasoned that God could do such a thing. He was a friend of God and knew Him well enough to know that He could do the impossible. Before climbing the mountain, Abraham told the servant to wait for them. Abraham used the word "we" when he told the servant that he and Isaac would be returning, so he had complete faith that Isaac would come back down that mountain with him.

2) Abraham fully intended to sacrifice Isaac on that altar. He was going to follow through with giving his son's life because he trusted God. God had told him that Isaac was the son of the promise and that he would be the father of many nations through Isaac, and Abraham believed that God would keep that covenant. I just never fully grasped the fact that Abraham really intended to give his son's life.  Abraham's only recorded words to God in this chapter are, "Here I am."  Oh, that I would live my life with that kind of obedience to God.

But the most beautiful thing about this passage is that it foreshadows the crucifixion of Christ. As Beth Moore says, it was like God was staging the future event; Abraham played God and Isaac played Jesus. There are many parallels (Isaac carried the wood on his back foreshadowed Christ carrying the cross, etc.).  The difference was that Isaac got up from the altar.  Abraham commemorated the place by naming it "The Lord Will Provide."  When God spared Isaac, he provided a ram for the sacrifice.  And many years later, on a mountain near this one, God sacrificed His only begotten son as payment for our sins.  Praise God.  


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