Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scripture Sunday: The Ultimate Sacrifice

{Golgotha, "The Place of the Skull", where Jesus was crucified.}

After all this, God tested Abraham.  He said , "Abraham!"
"Yes?" answered Abraham.  "I'm listening."
He said, "Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I'll point out to you."
Abraham got up early in the morning and.....set out for the place God had directed him......
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry.....
Isaac said to Abraham his father, "Father?"
"Yes, my son."
"We have flint and wood, but where's the sheep for the burnt offering?"
Abraham said, "Son, God will see to it that there's a sheep for the burnt offering."
And they kept on walking together.
They arrived at the place to which God had directed him.  Abraham built an altar.  He laid out the wood.  Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood.  Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. 
Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Yes, I'm listening."
"Don't lay a hand on that boy! Don't touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn't hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the alter for me."
Genesis 22: 1-3; 6-12 (The Message)

It's amazing to me that as I've been gradually sharing Scripture from Genesis that this was the next passage I had planned to ties in so wonderfully with the whole point of Easter!

But first I want to back up just a little.  If you remember, Abraham had prayed for years that he & his wife Sarah would have a son.  He waited patientently as God continued to promise him that not only would he have a son, but that he would have more descendants that he could ever imagine.  Finally, when Abraham was 100 years old, God answered his prayer & blessed him & Sarah with a son, Isaac.

So, after all of that, why in the world would God even think about asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering?!  After all, we all know how God feels about murder!

So why did he ask Abraham to do such a thing?

It was to test him!  To see if Abraham was willing to give up the most important thing in his life for the sake of God!  To see if obeying God was really Abraham's top priority!
God didn't really want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  He simply wanted Abraham's willingness & obedience!
(I Samual 15:22 tells us that our obedience is better than our sacrifice.)

How many of us would be willing to sacrifice one of our children, or maybe a spouse, or another family member if God wanted us to?!
Most of us wouldn't even be willing to sacrifice something much less important, such as our house or our job!

But there was One who gave up His only Son.........who allowed His only Son to be be sacrificed on a die.....that we, the sinners that we are, might live!!
As hard as I try, I cannot fully imagine how great our God's love must be for us!
Who of us would give up a family member so that a bunch of sinners, who don't even care about us, might live?
But God did just that!  And it's that love for us, for me, that makes me want to serve God, to obey Him!
After what He did for me, how can I not want to live for Him?
My obedience to Him is nothing in comparison to the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE He made for you & me!

And one more thought, I love that fact that Abraham tells Isaac that God will provide the sheep (or lamb as another version puts it), because ultimately, that's exactly what God did!  Jesus is the Lamb of God, provided as a sacrifice for our sins! (John 1:29)

So today as we gather with family & friends for Easter, may we remember the One who loves us so much that He died & rose again that we might live!

{Jesus' Empty Tomb!}

May God bless you & yours this Easter!

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