Friday, April 3, 2020

Walking By Faith

I was greatly challenged this morning as I read the account of Abraham's Faith being tested by God in Genesis 22. In many ways, our faith is being tested now by living during this Covid 19 Pandemic. Fear and anxiety fill the hearts of many, including some Christians. Fear is simply a tool of Satan to drive us away from truly trusting God. So, what does this have to do with Abraham? Well, Abraham's faith was tested through an unusual command of God. Genesis 22:2 "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." What would Abraham do? How would he handle a situation that was hard to understand? How could God form a nation and keep His promise if Isaac is dead? Isaac was the promised seed through which God would eventually form the Nation of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:15-19). Observe and learn from the great faith of Abraham in God's Promises.

We saw above that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice His son. How could God command this? Human sacrifice was forbidden and was a heathen practice performed by the wicked nations around him. How could one understand this request? But notice that Abraham never questioned God- He simply obeyed. Genesis 22:3 "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him." We find no questioning or arguing from Abraham. Even though he probably did not at all understand what God was doing, he followed God's order with unfailing trust in God's wisdom.

It took days to get to the mountain as we observe in Genesis 22:4 "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." With that amount of time there is a temptation to start to question what you are doing. The mind can start to imagine all kinds of things- twisted things if we don't guard it. But Abraham's obedience here to God's command and word never waivered. Contrasted to Abraham's trust, we find Gideon's hesitancy and little faith in Judges 6. When the Lord visited Gideon and declared to him that he would save Israel from the Midianites, Gideon questioned, gave excuses, and pleaded for signs. Notice these examples:

Judges 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.  Judges 6:17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
Judges 6:36-37  And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,  Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor...

Gideon failed to immediately trust in the Lord's plans and instructions, even though he would go on to do as the Lord asked of him. Abraham did not ask for signs, did not question God, or give excuses, he simply trusted and obeyed. In Genesis 22:9-10 Abraham reaches their destination, builds an altar, ties up Isaac, places him onto the altar, and is about to kill him until the Lord stops him. Notice what God says in Genesis 22:12 "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."  Observe what God did for Abraham and Isaac: Genesis 22:13 "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."

There is one more thing that I want you to observe in Genesis 22. Isaac himself never argued with his father or with God. He too, willingly allowed his father to place him on the altar. Isaac was not a little boy here. Notice the v.5- "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." The words for "young men" and "lad" are the same Hebrew word. Isaac could have stopped his aged father from tying him up, but he did not! Isaac too, was trusting God!  Abraham passed down his faith and trust to his son Isaac.

So, how should all of this challenge us today in our endurring the challenging time in which we live? We, like Abraham and Isaac must trust in God's Word and promises. None of us know exactly why all of this is happening to us today. It is hard to be confined to our houses and isolated from other people. It is hard to be away from others that we love. It is challenging to do our grocery shopping. It imay be hard to explain to our children. Some are going "stir crazy." As, Christians though, we know that God is still Sovereiegn over it all. God has a purpose for it all. God deeply cares for us as we observe in His Word. Let us walk like Abraham today!! Trust that God knows what He is doing and will see us through what we don't understand. Unwaveringly, follow His will! Completely trust in His care! Immediately obey His Word! and for the parents out there, teach your children to trust the Lord and to find comfort in Him! "Trust and Obey" as the hymn goes.

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