Eternity Daily Bible Study
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 22:1-8
Topic: Faith Obeys God
Date: 12th April 2006
Genesis 22:1-8 HCSB 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." (3) So early in the morning Abraham got up, 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.
First of all, let me give a warning – do not do this at home! Do not think that God is calling you to sacrifice your children or to kill anyone at all. This was an exceptional and unusual “once event” and is never enjoined on believers as normative! Some mentally ill or religiously zealous people have taken this passage to establish a doctrine of “extreme sacrifice” as pleasing to God. The only sacrifices asked for after the cross are mentioned in Hebrews and are hardly extreme:
Hebrews 13:15-16 HCSB Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. (16) Don't neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
Christ has done the sacrificing for us. We may have to endure hardship or persecution but we never have to offer a person or animal to God in worship or “give up” any good things in our life just to please God. God in fact wants us to enjoy life.
1 Timothy 6:17 HCSB Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.
What this passage does teach us is that faith obeys God. When God clearly says “Do X” then the person of faith obeys promptly. For instance, Philip the evangelist:
Acts 8:26-31 HCSB An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: "Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to desert Gaza." (27) So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem (28) and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. (29) The Spirit told Philip, "Go and join that chariot." (30) When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you're reading?" (31) "How can I," he said, "unless someone guides me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Here we see Philip promptly obeying first and angel of the Lord, and then the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is true faith in action, obeying God!
Abraham's obedience both obeyed God and trusted God. The epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Abraham solved the problem of God asking him to sacrifice Isaac by thinking that God would raise Isaac back from the dead in order to fulfill His Word.
Hebrews 11:17-19 HCSB By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was offering up his unique son, (18) about whom it had been said, In Isaac your seed will be called. (19) He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, from which he also got him back as an illustration.
So Abraham did not doubt God, but obeyed Him and worked out a solution, Abraham found a way in which obeying God in this difficult matter was both possible and consistent.
Faith is thus not merely creedal but, when mature, it displays itself in action. How could Philip say that he believed in God – and then disobey the angel or fail to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit? Faith trusts God enough to act on His clearly revealed Word.
This does not mean that we have to do everything that Bible characters do! For instance, Isaiah the prophet walked around for three years naked, with his buttocks uncovered! (Isaiah 20:1-4) Isaiah obeyed a particular Word from God, that certainly does not apply to all Christians – but Isaiah did obey! The fact that God tells one person to be a missionary to China does not mean that every Christian has to be a missionary to China. (We also need missionaries to other places too!)
Then there are more general commands that apply to every Christian – encourage one another, be holy, abstain from immorality, pray without ceasing, and so forth. These commands are repeated in many different places and times in the Bible and form an overall pattern that tells us they are for all Christians, in all countries, climes and ages.
Faith also obeys these commands and commits itself to living out the Christian life and to obedience to the gospel. Such obedience is tough, and you may feel like you are literally “putting Isaac on the altar”. It can be hard to give up an illicit affair, or to be honest with the tax man or to ask forgiveness from someone that you have wronged – but faith walks in the truth – and eventually obeys!
Abraham's obedience was prompt, private, and prayerful and grounded in the belief that God was going to provide, and that it would turn out for good in the end (Romans 8:28). The faster we obey, and the more deeply we think and pray about it, the easier it will be for our faith to be translated into holy action that glorifies God!
James 2:26 HCSB For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
John Edmiston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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