Epistle to the Hebrews (11:17-19)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Our author is not yet done with Abraham. It is no wonder that Abraham is often called the “father of faith”. We cannot talk about faith and obedience without mentioning this prominent figure.

This is what God said to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Gen 22:2

God is not an insensible God. In this verse we see God asking Abraham to give the promised son and God knows well that Isaac is the only child of the old man. Not only that, God knew that Abraham loved Isaac so much. In the Septuagint the word for “tested” is επειρασε which means to “pierce through”. This was a test which touched Abraham’s deepest emotions. Abraham had no time to ask God “you mean my only son Isaac whom I loved so much?”. It was a clear and spontaneous command. Isaac was not an ordinary child, it’s the long awaited son. God has promised to give Abraham a large posterity through Isaac and now God is asking to give Him back this son? Was not God’s promise and command conflicting in Abraham’s mind? Amazingly, because Abraham knew and loved God, he tried to reconcile God’s promise with this conflicting command. He figured out that God could bring Isaac back to life again thus not making the promise becoming void. Abraham’s reasoning that God could bring back Issac again was such a powerful demonstration of faith and obedience. Abraham was determined to sacrifice Isaac and Isaac’s hours were counted. There was no hesitation, the next morning Abraham prepared the wood and saddled his donkey. Issac was carrying the wood which was to be used for his own death. He knew not that he was himself the sacrifice but Abraham alone did.

Then came this logical question:

Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Gen 22:7

Abraham replied with assurance that God would provide a lamb for the burnt offering. He knew he had to offer Isaac but why did he say God will provide a sheep? Abraham was hopeful that God would intervene. But when he reached Mount Moriah, Abraham probably looked around and there were no animals wandering. Yeah then faith came into action, he tied his son on the altar. Did not Isaac think “Father I love you, why are you doing this to me? Did not you tell me God will provide a lamb? ” . Abraham probably had Sarah in his thoughts as well. Isaac was not only Abraham’s son but also Sarah’s son. She also suffered long to become a mother and now she will lose Issac because God said so? Abraham was determined even though this command pierced him through. When he left his servant and went with Isaac alone, Abraham said he would be back with his son. That’s faith.

As James 2:22 said: “ Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

Faith without action is dead. Abraham had faith God will provide. He obeyed till Moriah and brought Isaac with him. But now came the ultimate demonstration of faith, it was action. There was no one who could spare Isaac when Abraham raised his knife. In Abraham’s heart, Isaac was to be a dead child in a few seconds. Heaven was silent till the last moment. God saw Abraham’s faith consumed and stopped him. Abraham would have burn to ashes his son and yet expect to get him back whole? We need to bear in mind that Abraham would have finished the work if God did not intervene.

God intervened and said:

Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

God provided a ram. The ram did not appear before Abraham tied Isaac and raised his knife. This is an example of how far God can push a man. That’s genuine faith, love and obedience to God. You might think it’s absurd to put Abraham in such a chaotic situation. God kept the suspense high to remove all doubts that Abraham was truly determined to obey. Faith was purified from roots of doubts.

We have seen that by faith Abraham left his country and brought his family in the unknown. This was like faith test level 1. We have seen that Abraham believed in God’s promise of a son even though his body was almost dead. This was faith test level 2. Then came level 3 which was the ultimate test of mature faith. It was absolute surrender to God’s will. In silence Abraham obeyed because if he spoke many would have stopped him to obey. He passed with distinction level 3 and is now renowned for his faith, love and obedience.

God actively works in our heart so that we can move to the next level. He wants us to trust Him more. Shall we plead like the disciples: “Show us to increase our faith“? Luke 17:5

You and Sarah are old, why do you still believe God will give you a son? Are you not irresponsible to take your family and go in an unknown land? Are not you mad to offer your only son Isaac?”

When you hear those voices, rejoice because these are confirmations that God is working your faith. But of course, seek wisdom, discernment and live by the Spirit so that you do not mistake God’s voice. God always confirms clearly by His Spirit the next step of faith to take. When God requires us to live by faith, we will probably have to face uncertainty, absurdity and mockeries.

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Posted May 18, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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