“BECAUSE YOU DID, DAD.”
James Bryan Smith begins this chapter of his book by telling a story about taking his six year old son to an amusement park. While at the park, he and his son got on a ride. A teenage boy buckled them into their seats and then started the ride. The entire time during the ride, James Bryan Smith felt a panic in his heart for fear that his son would fly out of the ride. He states:”With white knuckles and gritted teeth I prayed the entire ninety seconds for the ride to end. I looked over at Jacob, who was laughing and having a great time (The Good and Beautiful God, pg 55).”
After the ride was over, he and his son sat down on a nearby park bench, and Smith asked his son, “Weren’t you scared? That ride was pretty wild. Why did you get on a ride like that?” His son answered with childlike honesty, “Because you did, Dad.”This is the kind of trust we should have in our Heavenly Father.
(From a sermon by Scott Walker, The Good and Beautiful God: God Is Trustworthy, 9/12/2011)
Abraham trusted God to that point as well. He believed simply because God spoke. This is the story about how he believed God about his son Isaac, and didn’t question God once concerning the promises God gave him about Isaac, about how through Isaac his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
Matthew 13:52 (HCSB) 52 “Therefore,” He said to them, “every student of Scripture instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who brings out of his storeroom what is new and what is old.”
So my prayer is that we can bring out of the storeroom of scripture today both what is new and what is old. This is a familiar story, but I pray that God would reveal to us what is unfamiliar in this story. I pray that he would peel the covers back from this story and show us uncharted territory and that we could sail into the deep. In Jesus’ name, amen!
Genesis 22:1-2 (HCSB) 22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered.2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
So what is God up to? The first thing we have to realize tonight is that God will never, never contradict his Word, so it’s important for us to understand that our trust in Him needs to be complete!!
Our trust in God must be complete
It must be absolute!! Even when God’s commands give us mixed emotions, or it seems, it seems like God might be giving us mixed signals. Usually it is not that God’s instructions need to be corrected, it is our heart condition that needs to conform to the instructions. But I guarantee you, if you allow your trust in God to be absolute, the understanding behind the instruction will come later.
What does scripture tell us next? Did Abraham respond? Did he question? Did he doubt? Did he run. According to scripture, he did none of these things..
Genesis 22:3-8 (HCSB)3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together.7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.”And he replied, “Here I am, my son.”Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together.
From the very beginning of the Bible, even before the law, there was almost an instinct running through people that in order to be restored back to God and to be right with God, somebody or something had to die? People were slaughtering animals for sacrifices long before Moses. So what do we take away? For us to be made right with God, something has to die!!
Something has to die
Abraham, Job, Abel and Jacob, these men all understood the concept of sacrifice, of something dying in order for them to remain alive. In the same way, for us to remain in fellowship and intimacy with God, something has to die. Self-sufficiency has to die! Pride, ego and self-ambition have to die. Lust, bitterness, envy, selfishness, gluttony, laziness, they have to die. Romans 8 tells us that if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. That doesn’t mean go out and just try to perform our way into good deeds. No, that means surrender to the power and presence of the Spirit of God, through seeking God through hiding His Word in our hearts. See, for a long time, a lot of my Christian walk dealt with me trying to be good at sin management. God forbid us if we teach, preach and practice sin management theology. In other words, as long as the sin in our lives is under control, we’re good. But sin does not need to be managed; sin needs to be stamped out. Sin needs to be crucified!!
Paul said I have been crucified with Christ. It is my absolute favorite verse in the whole Bible.
Galatians 2:20 (HCSB) 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
But here’s the key to crucifying sin, and crucifying the flesh. Christ in me. It is His power working in us, that will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So we give Him our burdens, our worries and anxieties in prayer.
Abraham had given all his worries about Isaac to the Lord in prayer. Wow…did you catch what he said to the servants? He said Isaac and I are going to worship, and then WE are coming back. Let’s follow Abraham’s example and let our doubts die, our fears die. And let’s be pursuaded that if God calls us to climb a mountain, he will surely climb with us and will also be with us when we come back down.
Genesis 22:9-14 (HCSB)
9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”He replied, “Here I am.”12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.
God himself was there and approved of and validated Abraham’s faith. Abraham withheld nothing from God. He gave God the thing dearest to him and nearest to his heart.
We must release what is dear to us to the Lord
So God himself was with Abraham, holding him back. But here it is..thousands of years later, the Father sent his Son into the world to pay for the sins of humankind. And this time, the Father did not stay the knife. He sent His Son to be crucified, to be our sacrifice. Abraham and Isaac walked up a mountain together and built an altar. Christ had to climb a mountain called Golgatha, the place of the skull, where he was slain. Abraham named the place, “The Lord Will Provide.” It is the Lord who provided his son as the means to our justification, redemption, regeneration and salvation. Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. So he was caught by his head in a thicket. What would keep the ram from just walking through the bush? This ram had a crown of thorns on his head, just like Christ. And remember, Abraham laid the wood that Isaac was going to die on, on Isaac’s shoulders. Christ had to carry the wooden cross up the hill himself. Both these men carried the instrument of their deaths, up the mountain. Just like Christ gave up his own life, we too must give up our most prized possessions, our lives, our time, our talents, our relationships, our resources, and the desire to control those things needs to be laid on the cross.
The Apostle Peter tells us we can cast our burdens on Christ, because he cares for us. Won’t you do that tonight? If you don’t know Christ, you can repent, meaning change your mind about your sins, turn from them, and turn to Jesus. If you know Christ, you can decide fully and completely to be a martyr for him. You don’t have to physically die to be a martyr. You don’t have to be a Christian in the Middle East to be a martyr for Jesus. He calls us to martyrdom every day. Let us respond to the call.