Asked to do hard – crazy things

Asked to do hard – crazy things

“Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” – Genesis 22:12

Genesis 22:1-13

 1 God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

 2 “Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

 8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

 9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.

 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.

 11 At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way . . ..”

 13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

September 12, 1962

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. After all, that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

In our topsy-turvy world, sometimes, the Father asks to do things that are seemingly illogical if not even crazy. Why does the Father do this? The answer is twofold.

First, the Father thinks differently than we do.

Isaiah 55:8-9

 8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

His logic centers in faith in His unseen and eternal purpose. We only get glimpses now and then.

Second, the Father tests our faith to demonstrate that it is real. That demonstration of our faith comes through actions performed in real-time.

How does the Father know that our faith is real? How do we know that our faith is real? It is one thing to say that we have faith, it is quite another to show or demonstrate that our faith is real by our actions and deeds.

One book of the Bible wrestles the issue of how faith and works intertwine: James

James 2:14-20

 14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

What does useless mean? The Greek word for useless is argos. It literally means not working, of no benefit, unprofitable. There is a subtle play on words in the Greek that is not apparent in English. The Greek word for works or deed is ergan. The word for “useless” is argos. Perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, James is saying faith without ergan is argos. In Greek, the word order is faith without action useless is.

How do action and faith work together? One demonstrates the reality of the other. Works demonstrate by action that the faith is real.

James 2:21-23

 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.

 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

REFLECT & PRAY

Sometimes I think without believing. Other times I believe without thinking.

Father, I want my faith to be real and actualized by a change of life within and without. I didn’t get to be a person who walks by sight overnight. I will not get to be a person who walks by faith overnight either.

INSIGHT

“James does not quarrel with faith. He understands that faith alone can save someone. What he opposes is a phony faith, the kind that supposedly exists without giving any practical confirmation of its existence” (Stanley).

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Genesis 22 and James 2 meld together in a unified sequence of events.

Abraham hears the truth and believes what he hears. Abraham puts the truth that he believes into action. He is prepared to carry out what the Father requested. The Father never intended for Abraham to carry out the request. It was a test of Abraham’s faith. His unwavering action demonstrated that his faith was real and not mere lip service belief.

Abraham did not know the Father’s. Genesis 22 was not yet written. But he was willing and ready to do what the Father asked. For Abraham, it was hard, illogical,  even barbaric, if not crazy.

All the Father wanted to see was Abraham’s willingness. Performing the actual deed was not necessary. The Father intervened through an angel and stopped the sacrifice of Isaac. The Father provided a lamb instead.

Genesis 22:12-14

 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

 13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”).

In modern colloquial English, we say “actions speak louder than words”.

Each child of the King will have their own “Isaac moment.” In fact, we may visit Mount Moriah more than once. RememberYahweh-Yireh, “the LORD will provide.”

¯\_()_/¯

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