Some time later God tested Abraham…Genesis 22:1
The story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac is one of the best know stories in scripture. But is it one of the best understood? Read the story again here.
To understand God is to understand he is a God of total commitment and a God who requires total commitment. In a previous reflection we talked about how God had made a covenant with Abraham and part of that covenant was a strange ritual where God moved through a set of animal carcasses arranged on the ground. It was God’s way of saying if he did not keep his end of the bargain he would become like those carcasses. (Genesis 15)
Of course as we read scripture and particularly the Easter story we see God becoming just like those carcasses as Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is beaten and killed on the cross. Not because of God’s failure to keep his covenant promises, but because we failed to keep our end of the bargain.
Can we see the similarities in what God has done through Jesus and what he asked of Abraham? God showed total commitment to mankind, and by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac he was asking mankind to show that same commitment to him.
Of course the big difference in the stories of Jesus commitment and Abraham’s is that Jesus was asked to follow through to the end, while Abraham was sparred the ordeal of sacrificing his son. Why?
If Abraham had of sacrificed Isaac what would it have achieved? It would have shown at that moment in time Abraham was obedient to God. It would not have atoned for the times when he was not obedient. It would not have guaranteed future obedience.
Jesus had already lived a perfect life, he was obedient in every way and so his sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice atoning for all sin and an eternal symbol of God’s enduring commitment to his people. To you and me.
It is a symbol of God’s eternal commitment to us. To understand God is to understand that he is committed to his people in the deepest possible way. His investment in us is the life of his own son. The requirement of God is that we would be committed to him. That we would abandon halfhearted discipleship and lay our lives completely before him.
God has shown his commitment to us, how have we shown our commitment to him. Are there things in our lives we need to lay down, priorities we need to change in order to be wholehearted in our worship of God?
Prayer Father I thank you for how you have shown your commitment to me through Jesus. I thank you for his prayer in Gethsemane, not my will but yours. Father teach me how to pray this same prayer. Teach me how to seek your will above my will. Amen