“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.” -Genesis 22:2
“And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
“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.” -Genesis 22:10-12
“This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that. I will certainly bless you….And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”-Genesis 22:16-17a,18
If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, you are called to believe and follow ALL of the Bible. Last Sunday, Pastor Matt talked about the Bible and how sometimes he wishes he could follow almost all of it. How he wished he could just mark out a few verses here or there. The message wasn’t about that, it was good stuff about love. If you want to take a listen see the link bellow.*
I definitely agree with Pastor Matt. There are passages, stories, and verses in the Bible that are hard to follow, and the story above about Abraham and Isaac has been one of those passages in my life. Probably like most people, when I first read it I thought Abraham had lost his mind. I had my doubts as to why someone would do something this evil and how crazy you would have to be to want to sacrifice your own son. I questioned Abraham’s motives and didn’t understand. In the end I put in on the shelf and focused on happy passages like:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Time went on and I heard messages preached on this passage but I still blocked my ears. This worked until about six years ago. I was volunteering at a kid’s camp as one of the staff members. I was serving at a camp of about 200 kids and I was also pregnant with my first child. At the time H1N1 was spreading like wildfire in the country. The vaccine wasn’t available to the public and people were starting to die. Among that group were pregnant women. While at the camp one of the cabin leaders became very ill and had to leave the camp. A few days later I started to feel ill as well. The following day my senior Pastors showed up at camp. I was excited to see them but they looked concerned, especially when I told them I wasn’t feeling well. A couple hours later they asked me to come to a meeting with the camp director, the district leader, and my senior pastors. They proceeded to tell me that this cabin leader was at the doctor and being tested for a possible case of H1N1. They didn’t know what to tell me as they would have no official answer until after camp was finished. Their concern was palpable. I sat there facing a potentially life threatening situation to me and for my baby.
Suddenly all the sermons and messages I had ever heard on Abraham and Isaac came back. How Abraham was prepared to sacrifice, even his precious son, to God. This son who was loved by Abraham and was also the fulfillment of ALL God’s promises for Abraham. Isaac was God’s answer to Abraham and now that answer was being taken away. There is no way Abraham understood. There is no way Abraham made peace with this decision. All Abraham could do was to obey or not obey.
During that time at camp, I prayed what to do, I thought about Abraham, and I thought about my own life. I thought about how many things and people I put above God by always doing what I thought was best. What in my life was I honestly willing to sacrifice? Was I willing to give God everything? I thought of all the hours I spent grieving over family members that didn’t follow Jesus. I thought of those people I loved most dearly. I thought of all the things I loved to do. I thought of all the promises God had made to me. Was I willing to give those people, things, and promises to God? Was I willing to lay them on the altar, pick up the knife, and plunge it down? Not that God was asking me to literally kill anyone but He was asking me to give up control. Did I trust Him? Did I trust Him with the things that mattered most to me? Did I trust that His love is bigger, deeper, and wider than my own? Did I trust God above what I thought was best?
That night in worship at kid’s camp I gave my life and the life of my baby to God. I laid my baby’s life and my own on the altar. I laid down the lives of those I loved who didn’t follow Jesus. I laid down the lives of all those most dear to my heart. I laid down God’s promises for my life. I gave it all to God and I said, “I don’t understand but I trust You.” I don’t see but I refuse to hold on any longer. I laid them all down and sacrificed them to God. I sacrificed them to God, ready for no answer at all from God. I gave them completely, expecting nothing in return.
To some this may sound scandalous. Many might not understand this kind of sacrifice and I agree that this is a crazy, desperate, and scandalous kind of love. I gave God this sacrifice because I love God. I love God because when His son was on the altar, He didn’t stay His hand. When God’s son, Jesus Christ, was on the altar He gave Him away freely. He sacrificed Him so that I could be free from sin and free to be with God.
That year I stayed at kid’s camp (On a quick side note: I was in a similar situation two years later and that time God asked me to leave camp. The point is the obedience to God. Not the action). I stayed and lay everything on the altar of God. For that decision I have been blessed. First, I was protected from getting H1N1. Next I was blessed with the birth of my first son. I was blessed with a closer relationship with God and a greater level of peace. Finally I was blessed because I learned how to lay things on the altar of God. I learned how to give God the things I hold most dear and I have had to continue to lay things down. I have had to continue to trust God instead of myself. I have had to continue to believe God and believe His love for me and His love for those I love most. To believe His love is bigger and wider than anything I have to give away. In these times I never understand, but in these times, I trust and obey.
My question to you today, what is God asking you to lay on His altar? Is it a family member who doesn’t follow Jesus? Is it the person you love most of all? Is it a promise from God? Whatever it is, I know you don’t understand, but lay it down. Lay it down completely, expecting nothing in return. Lay it down as freely as God gave His only Son out of love for you.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
*http://faithandvictory.com/sermons/time-to-phil-up/, “Time to Phil Up”: Pastor Matt Krachunis, Faith and Victory Church; Auburn, WA, Sunday, September 27th 2015.
© Amanda Kate Mott and Desperate Ministries, February 2015-present.
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