It happens in every action picture, or so it seems, the hero confronts the villain who cackles hideously and then sneers at the hero. The hero is given a choice to save the one person dearest to him/her, or to save the city. It is a choice that may seem worse than death itself. In a flash the hero makes the decision to save the city; at the same time, the “ordinary” police force finds a way to save the hero’s love. Of course. It’s fiction. They always work those things out in fiction. But in real life?
Abraham had been told by God that he would have a child through which all nations had been blessed. In his 90’s he became a little impatient and had a child by his wife’s maid. God told him that wasn’t the child. Then, at the age of about 100, Isaac was born. The promised child had arrived. I’m not sure if Abraham was feeling more joy or more relief at the birth. Then a number of years later came this chilling message from God: sacrifice your son to me. Imagine the confusion Abraham must have felt. His choice was to refuse God, because this was the child of the promise and such a request was ludicrous, or to believe and obey God, because…God. He chose to obey, and then came what must have been one of the hardest father/son conversations ever as they approached the mountain:
“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’
‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied.
‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’
Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.” (Genesis 22:7-8)
I don’t know exactly what Abraham was thinking there. If I’m in that position, I’m going to give my young son assurance, even if I thought it was false, to avoid troubles. If Abraham really believed that God would provide the lamb, he didn’t seem to look around when they got to the top of the mountain. I don’t know what he had to do to tie up his son and put him on top of the wood they had for the sacrifice. I don’t know if Isaac struggled, or at his young age was reacting in faith, knowing that his father would never harm him. All I know is that Abraham believed God and obeyed Him and was willing to pay any cost necessary. And just as Abraham was about to deliver the deathblow, God did provide the ram for the sacrifice. And the rest is history.
It would be easy to be hard on Abraham here. He should have known that God wouldn’t really order him to sacrifice his son. It would be easy to be hard on God here. How could God command anyone to sacrifice their son, even as a test. Yeah, I know. If that sentence hit you like it hit me as I wrote it, your mind’s eyes went to the cross and saw Jesus bleeding there. You heard Jesus call out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Obedience led Abraham to Mount Moriah, prepared to sacrifice his son. Obedience led Jesus to the cross, where God sacrificed His Son to restore fellowship with a lost and dying world. I don’t know where obedience will lead me, or you, in the future, but I can tell you that obedience to God will always lead to hard choices. When you make the hard choice to obey, you may not even see the end result for awhile. In the long run, though, obedience to God is always the best choice.
Oh Lord, how I wish You would take my advice when difficult choices arise. Instead, you don’t remove the difficulty, You call me to be obedient to You. Sometimes obedience is easy. Sometimes it is painfully difficult. Give me the faith and the grace to be obedient in all circumstances.