Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

OT Tuesday: The Ultimate Sacrifice

Isaac was the son of promise. He was born to Abraham and Sarah when Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of  many nations, in fact God even changed his name from Abram  (meaning exalted father) to Abraham (meaning father of many nations) but Abraham and Sarah remained childless until they were well past the age most people would live, let alone have a baby. Both Abraham and Sarah though that having their first son in their old age to be both a wonderful blessing and an incredibly funny joke that God played on them. Really, they did:
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:6-7)
In fact the name that God had earlier told Abraham to give his son, Isaac, means "He laughs". We all know what happened then, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, an angel stopped him, they killed a ram and Abraham became the father of the Jewish nation. But let's look at this again as Christians with the knowledge of several thousand years of history.

In Genesis 22:2 God tells Abraham to “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.” Notice God calls Isaac "Your only son, whom you love" in fact God calls Isaac "Your only son whom you love" three times, in Genesis 22:2, in Genesis 22:12, and in Genesis 22:16. Why did God call Isaac Abraham's only son knowing full well that Ishmael is also his son? Because Isaac is the child of the covenant, impregnating Sarah's maid Hagar was not part of God's plans, that was part of Sarah's plan. To me there's an echo of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit here. But also notice that God tells Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice there. Moriah is where Jerusalem now is, and that's where God took His son, His only son whom He loved, Jesus, to be offered up as a sacrifice. 

Abraham saddled up his donkey and off they went to Moriah, just the same as Jesus took a donkey to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2). Three days later they got to where God wanted them to be and Abraham had Isaac carry the wood he was to be sacrificed on up to the place God chose just as Jesus carried the wood he was to be sacrificed on, the cross (John 19:17). As they walked they talked:
7 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?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. (Genesis 22:7-8)
Keep this in mind, we'll come back to it. Eventually Abraham and Isaac reached the place that God had chosen. Abraham built the altar, stacked up the wood Isaac was carrying and laid Isaac on the wood. Then Abraham picked up his knife and hauled back to slay Isaac when suddenly:
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 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.” (Genesis 22:11-12)
 Remember who we said the Angel Of The Lord is? All these parallels between Isaac and Jesus and who should show up to save Isaac but Jesus Himself! So many things went into this very moment, sending Abram out from his native land, raising him up to be powerful among his peers, promising descendants as numerous as the stars but withholding the birth of his son until he was 100 so the child would be that much more deer. Was God testing Abraham to learn how faithful Abraham was? Of course not, God knew how faithful Abraham was. Then was he testing Abraham to display to Abraham how faithful God was to his servants? Of course not, Abraham knew how faith is returned by God, otherwise he never would have put Isaac on that altar. God was showing US what real faith is really like, and at this very moment, the Jewish religion is born.

Now Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns so Abraham sacrificed the ram to God instead of Isaac. But remember back in Genesis 22:8 Abraham said that God would provide a lamb, but this isn't a lamb, it's a ram. Big Difference. God did provide a lamb eventually, in fact John the Baptist pointed it out:
The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

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