“No Questions Asked”
Next to sharing the good news that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, the business of the church is to advocate for obedience to God’s law. We believe and teach that the beginning of wisdom is the proper fear or / respect for the Lord. The main way that God communicates with us is through Scripture. The message of Genesis 22 is about obedience to God’s will: why it’s important and what prompts it.
Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites is one of the top role models in the Bible. He grew up in a region of great wealth and splendor; in Ur of the Chaldeans, the area where humanity first organized into cities and nations. It has been called the cradle of civilization. Back in chapter 12, God said to Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” God spoke and Abram obeyed. In faith, he left the comforts of home, his relatives and friends and he set out for a distant, unfriendly country he had never seen before.
Even when Abram questioned God’s promise to make of Abram a great nation (12:1, 15:1). He did not doubt God’s promise. And when Sarah gave took matters into her own hands, she gave her slave-girl Hagar to Abram to have a child and she has Ishmael, Abram assumed God would fulfill his promise through Ishmael. But God tells him that he will have a son with his wife, Sarai. Abram believes God’s promise. Despite these questions and doubts, Abram still obeys God’s command with faith in Him.
Then, in today’s reading, God puts Abraham to the ultimate test and said to him, “Abraham” God spoke and Abraham responded immediately “Here am I.” When God speaks to us in His Word, what is our response? [v. 2] But then God said something that makes you do a double-take, “take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering,” (22:2). Have we ever questioned God’s Word and God’s ways in dealing with us? Have doubts ever entered our mind when we read the astounding truths of the Scriptures? Or, when God led us through the dark valleys, did we ever ask, why is this happening to me?
Abraham thought of (a.) his son, (b.) God’s promises, (c.) this seemingly astonishing command: to offer his own flesh and blood as a human sacrifice. That’s what the pagans did! So why was God asking him to do this?
Yet, “Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut wood for the offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” We can only imagine what must have been going through Abraham’s mind those 3 days as he made his way to the mountain.; the conflict between Reason and Obedience to God’s Word. “…on the 3rd day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.” Abraham could still turn around; walk away, return home, and save his son. But Abraham obeyed. No matter what seemed logical, Abraham obeyed the Word of the Lord.
Isaac plays an important part of this event. He must have suspected something was “up.” He could have resisted. He could have tried to run. A child senses the emotions of his parents and he would have read the grief-stricken face of his father. Isaac, the victim for the sacrifice, is not only an example of obedience, but also a type of the world’s Savior. As Abraham did, so God was willing to give His Son for us. Christ voluntarily laid down His life for us. As Isaac carried the firewood for the sacrifice, Christ patiently carried the cross to Calvary.
How are we Faithful? One theologian turns the tables on us. He asks: How does our obedience to God’s Word and Commandments compare to that of these role-models of the faith? He points out that The Word of God is clearer to us now, than it ever was to Abraham and Isaac. They didn’t have the Bible. God’s will is clearly stated, for us, in Scripture. And do we live in a way that is shaped by Scripture?
Obedience brought blessings to Abraham. Just as Abraham reached for the knife, the Angel of the Lord stopped him just at the right moment “...now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your only son from me.” Because Abraham was faithful, God blessed him and his descendants.
What motivates our obedience? Faith. What makes someone willing and anxious to obey God’s will? Is it the promise of getting something in return? Is it the threat of punishment -- of lightning bolts reigning down from the sky? The only power that motivates a person from the heart is Faith. Abraham believed in God’s Love, Grace, and Word. Hebrews 11:8 reminds us, “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance, not knowing where he was going. And, (Hebrews 11:17), “By faith Abraham, when tested, offered up Isaac.” Give us more faith, LORD, to do the things You call us to do.