Sunday, August 9, 2009

Isaac faith, the next step from Abraham faith.

"And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac"
Genesis 21:3

Of all the figures in the Bible, Abraham stands atop them all (besides Jesus). Called out from a pagan society on the word of a God he truly didn't know very well (at the time), he left all he had known behind for the promises of God! He is called "the father of faith" in the New Testament, and rightly so. He trusted God's promise for an off spring in his old age and had to trust him for 25 years, before the promise came to reality- at age 100! His faith in God would bring into being God's chosen people (Israel), allow God's law to be brought into the world, lead to the fulfillment of the law- Jesus Christ-, and throw open the door of salvation to "whosoever will".

Was Abraham perfect? No. Abraham tried to fulfil God's promise of an offspring using the customs of his day, and his offspring and the whole world have been paying the price for that sin ever since! He also lied on at least 2 occasions. Yet, when the rubber really hit the road, he trusted God enough to take his son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Much acclaim and praise has been placed on Abraham for his faith- and rightly so! Yet, there's a question that I've never heard asked, though some probably has- I am not a "giant of the faith".

Lost in this story of Abraham's sacrificial faith is Isaac's faith. What is the difference in the two faiths?

While it is true that Abraham had great faith (which one of us has the faith to be willing to sacrifice our child?), that faith actually pales in comparison to Isaac's. Most people present this story as if Isaac was a baby or a small child. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

It is true that, in Gen 22:5, he is called a "lad" (in the Hebrew it means "an active boy"), but look at the rest of the passage. Verse 6 states that Isaac was the one who carried the wood, that would be used for the sacrificial pyre, up the side of the mountain. The practice was to build a stack of wood that was a) long and wide enough for the sacrifices body, and b) high enough that the sacrificer need not bend over to strike the deadly blow, probably a little above Abraham's waist. The wood also had to be strong enough to hold the sacrifice, so Isaac wasn't carrying twigs.

Secondly, He asked Abraham, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering." However old you may think that Isaac was in this passage, this is not the question that a young child would ask. This lad was old enough to understand that he was in danger of death. He was also strong enough to carry a large load of stout wood up the side of a mountain.

Why am I bringing this up? Because his father was well over 100 years old at this time. Isaac was very capable of not allowing his Father to go through with his promise to God. However, when Abraham answered his question, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering", this settled the question in Isaac's mind.

Because of a promise from God to his Father, and his trust in his Father, Isaac willingly laid down on the wood, let his father bind him, and watched and waited for God's lamb to appear. This is faith! Sure enough, just as Abraham lifted the knife, (with Isaac undoubtedly laying there with his eyes squeezed shut, praying to God to intervene) God stopped the sacrifice and gave Isaac his life back.

This is true biblical faith in action! It is our taking everything we have, every dream, every hope, every fear, and our very physical life itself, and strapping it all to God's altar. It is us saying, as Job did, "though you slay me, yet will I trust you". It is us saying, as the 3 Hebrew boys said, "Our God is well able to deliver us, but if he chooses not to, we still will not bow (to the ungodly religion)". Jesus said, "he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved." We must trust God and give him our all, no matter what the consequences may appear to be!

Abraham's faith was great, in that he was willing to sacrifice his promised son. Isaac's faith was greater, in that he was willing to sacrifice HIMSELF! Abraham's faith was the start. Isaac's faith was the goal. Abraham's faith was about obedience. Isaac's faith was about self-sacrifice!

We all start with a seed of faith. Then, if it's cultivated, we grow into an Abraham faith (obedience). The goal is for a self-sacrificing and completely trusting faith in God! That's the faith that will lead us home. The seed of faith causes us to begin to seek for God. The obedient faith causes us to be obediently born again (Acts 2:38). Sacrificial faith will keep us on the right path, no matter thee situation, so we will one day hear Jesus say, "Well done...".

Isaac's faith was not in vain, however. He got his life back. He gained a true understanding of how precious life is and just how great a God we serve. He would have a wife and two children that he loved dearly. God blessed his business and he became great among men. But it all started through his father's example and his own willingness to die to accomplish what God wanted.

If we will but give him our all, relinquish all control of our lives, and let him decide what we need and don't need, we will be amazed at the results! "Though you slay me Lord, yet will I trust you!"

Just a thought.