Jan 08, 2004


[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Abraham built an altar . . . ; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar . . .
—Genesis 22:9

Today's Utmost

Well now that we got the details out of the way....

I like this verse, yet so often the wrong impression is gotten from it.  Taken out of context, it appears that God wants Abraham to give up his son.  That it's the desire of God that the child of promise to be killed.  Taken in context the story becomes a discourse on obediendance, even when we don't like the potential outcome.

Yet I seee it, as a discussion, on what type of sacrifice God expects of us.  The sacrifice of the Old Covenant always involved spilling of blood.  The New Covenant is sealed with blood, causing us to be living sacrifices to God.  We give our lives to Him.  Yet just as in the case of Isaac, we are not to die.  Isaac was a sacrifice, even though he wasn't slain (and another was slain in his place).  By Abraham placing Isaac on the alter, he was telling God, that God could do with him as God wills.

When we become living sacrifices, we place ourselves on the alter of the cross.  We identify ourselves with the death of Christ and are telling God that we ar His people, willing and able to listen to His will and carry it out.  Even if we don't like the potential outcomes.  We are not to die.  We are not to 'have no fun'  we are to live a life, filled with joy and hope, sharing the gospel, and living that life as close to the life that Christ lived as possible.

Let me tell you a secret about Christ's life that is rarely heard and even more rarely believed.

 Jesus laughed.

Were there times when Jesus was angry or sad?  sure, but they were the rare times.  Jesus lived a happy life, even though He knew how it was going to end.  Jesus lived a full life, yet He didn't have to sin, to have fun.  This is the type of sacrifice we are to be.  Happy, even though we know troubles are coming.  Living a full life, without sin.  As today's devotional says, we're no use to God when we're dead.
Beautifully put.

God wants us to live for Him. He wants us to be willing to die for Him if it comes to that, but He wants us to live for Him more. God wanted Abraham to be willing to give Isaac back to Him. Abraham was willing to trust God (and Isaac also trusted what was happening!!!) and give God what He asked. That is what God wants from us. He wants our lives. Not so He can end them, but so that He can fill them to overflowing. What a mighty God we serve.
Okay. I'm a bit late to the party, but I'd still like to weigh in and ramble a bit about this devotional.

First off, I love when I read something and it clearly defines a vague thought or notion that I'd held for a long time and also shows where in Scripture that clarity is based. I enjoyed this devotional because I have believed for quite a while that dying for a cause is a very simple thing. You do it once and are done. Living for a cause and dying daily to your impulses, that is sacrifice. That is obedience. Saying, "This is not what I want, but it's not about me, so I'm going to do the right thing because I love God" is a signpost of maturity in the Christian faith. Putting aside our own desires and trusting God will take care of us often brings us back to a place where God says, "What are your dreams? Let me fulfill them."

I admit that the passage telling of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac had perplexed me for a long, long time. I understood that it wasn't God's intent to have Isaac die. That would interrupt His plan and would be a cruel thing to do to one of his most loving servants, Abraham. It just wasn't logical. I often thought afterwards that God desired someone who had a concept of the sacrifice that He was preparing to make, thousands of years before He made it. God had to put a son on an altar and sacrifice him; would Abraham do the same?

As I said before, it is easy to die for a cause you believe in. Thing is, you're not terribly effective at advancing that cause after you're dead. It reminds me of the Looney Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are trying to continually one-up each other for the audience's applause. Daffy Duck finishes the competition by drinking a bottle of nitroglycerine and blowing himself up. Bugs Bunny concedes, admitting he can't top the trick. Daffy tells Bugs, "I can only do it once."

God is more efficient than that and wants our sacrifice to be continual. But just as God compensated Abraham for everything he gave up--a lifestyle of sin, instant gratification, and so on--He is not in the business of favoritism and will do the same for us today.

God gives us promises just as He gave them to Abraham. Let us sacrifice all we have, trusting in those promises, and lay claim to the treasure God has stored for us by losing our own worthless baggage. When you come down to it, that's a wonderful trade for us.