"The Faith of Abraham"
The Old Testament narrative of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to God does not include a salient point provided by the New Testament.
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. 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" (Genesis 22:2-3).
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead" (Hebrews 11:17-19).
I recall a discussion (debate) in a college philosophy class wherein we considered the ethical implications of Abraham's actions. How could a moral God command a supposedly beloved servant to kill his son? I advocated for the Lord, first affirming the Psalmist's declaration, "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31). This didn't satisfy some of my debate opponents. "How could a God be perfect who would tell somebody to murder his own son?" one of them responded. I proceeded to the New Testament passage mentioned above. "The God whose way is perfect purposed to raise Issac from the dead," I contended. "Moreover, the Bible teaches He clearly informed Abraham He would do so." This did not completely satisfy those who disagreed, but I recall our professor seemed intrigued by my argument.
God's way is perfect. Moreover, Hebrews reveals He did communicate to Abraham the certainty of Isaac's resurrection. This reveals several interesting truths that greatly impact our understanding and experience. First, we see the "line upon line, precept upon precept" protocol of Biblical interpretation commanded by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 28:9-10). No statement, verse, or passage of Scripture stands alone. All must be understood according to the whole of Biblical revelation, and interpreted by correlating doctrinal and historical facts that relate to one another. The account of Abraham we reference requires both Genesis and Hebrews to properly guide our understanding, particularly in reference to its Gospel foreshadowing. A father being willing to sacrifice his son - the Old Testament narrative - but with the certainty of his resurrection - the bright light of New Testament illumination. Little wonder the Lord Jesus Christ declared, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life. And they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).
We also see the inference of how human hearts come to faith in God and His Word. Again, the Genesis account does not include God's communication to Abraham regarding the resurrection of Isaac. The New Testament, however, plainly reveals the why and wherefore of Abraham's confidence: "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 1:17). The Lord communicated to His servant His glorious plans to accomplish a miracle on Mt. Moriah. Indeed, Abraham's willingness to sacrifice results from God's promise to resurrect. Abraham had discovered he could trust the word of the Lord who had called him from Ur of the Chaldees unto the promised land of glory. Again, Genesis does not record the communication of God's promise to Abraham regarding Isaac's resurrection. The New Testament epistles of Hebrews and Romans nevertheless unite to reveal the full story, and the basis of Abraham's "obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26).
Our Heavenly Father calls all of His trusting children to our own Mt. Moriahs in various ways. Trusting God in a fallen world often seems counterintuitive to human reasoning and understanding as it calls us to self-sacrificial devotion. However, our Lord never calls us to challenging obedience without first promising glorious experience of the risen Christ as we trust and obey through the power of the Holy Spirit. Abraham discovered such grace long ago, providing for us perhaps the most epic Old Testament foreshadowing of Calvary, the empty tomb, and what it means to respond to the Word of God by faith. Again, "line upon line, percept upon precept… Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Such light illuminates our path no less than the one whereupon Abraham journeyed in trusting obedience to his Lord, and our Lord…
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations, before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Lord, Thou hast been our dwellingplace in all generations."
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