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Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 9.26.58 PM   My most favourite, most challenging story in the Bible, that I come back to again, and again and again, is known as the binding of Isaac. This is the story of when God tells Abraham to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering.

There are two important factors in this story:

  1. Isaac was God’s promised heir to Abraham, given, miraculously, when Abraham was a very old man.
  2. Abraham was prepared to do as God asked of him.

This account in Genesis 22:1-19, challenges me greatly, for I do not know that I would pass such a test.

It also reminds me of the great verses in the middle of Lamentations:

Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”

It is the final line (above) that speaks to me as fitting with the binding of Isaac account …

The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope

That line is the It is well with my Soul parallel. It is the affirmation that if God is all I have, I can be satisfied, I can even have hope.

Sounds good, yes?

Okay, but what if, we were to define things that we might not have, yet still proclaim that if the Lord is all I have, in him I put my hope?

So, how about not getting accepted into the trade or school program you have always dreamed? Or having a medical diagnosis that will change your future planning? Or your child dying? Or finding out you cannot have children? Or someone else getting the promotion you so wanted? Or losing your job? Or your spouse having an affair? Or your spouse dying? Or, or, or?

Can we still say if the Lord is all I have, in him I put my hope?

This is not just an Old Testament teaching either, as Jesus reiterated where God should rate in our lives, when he was being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:8):

Jesus answered,
“It is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

I admit it is uncomfortable, yet, could you (could I) bind up that which we value most in this life, and lay it on an alter in obedience and willingness to pass the test, to show that we fear God more than we love that thing, that dream, that person?

Could we pass such a test?

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“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,

“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?

Abraham answered,

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And the two of them went on together.”

Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,

“Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.

“Do not do anything to him.

Now I know that you fear God,

because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

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“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,

“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?

Abraham answered,

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And the two of them went on together.”

Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,

“Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.

“Do not do anything to him.

Now I know that you fear God,

because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

Read Full Post »

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,
“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?
Abraham answered,
God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And the two of them went on together.”
Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,
“Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.
“Do not do anything to him.
Now I know that you fear God,
because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

Read Full Post »

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,

“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?

Abraham answered,

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And the two of them went on together.”

Genesis 22:7-8

2I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

This story of Abraham and Isaac is one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible. It provides sufficient drama, intrigue, secrets and integrity to hold ones attention fully, and leaves you in awe, but still wondering when it is through.

Isaac intrigues me in this story. Although the Bible only records one interaction between he and his father, it is reasonable that there were many more …

perhaps discussing the humorous individuals in their camp of people

perhaps discussing the ewe about to birth

perhaps discussing the servant who always forgets to bring the morning meal on time

For Isaac, we presume that this trip was not out of routine, but a normal, common and regular movement of life.

Three days to journey.

Three days for this son, this son whose age we do not know (estimated to be anywhere between 5-30), to walk and talk with his aging father (well over seventy-five) who seems to be hanging onto every word Isaac speaks, and yet a million miles away at the same time.

On the third day of the journey, “he (Abraham) said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

WE … no reason for Isaac to doubt, to wonder, to worry.

But then, as Abraham is laying the wood for the burnt offering (tied together with the ropes that would hold the offering to the alter, no doubt) onto the back of his son, Isaac asks his father, “dad, we have the wood, we have the fire, but there is no lamb to suffer for our sins.”

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

Abraham responded with assurance and confidence again, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And doesn’t He always?

God, through the grace that only He can and does offer, provides.

He provides the redemption

He provides the forgiveness

He provides the lamb … his son.

Tomorrow, I will finish this mini-series on the testing of Abraham, with more about the lamb.

*This is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have always captivated me.

Read Full Post »

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,
“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?
Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And the two of them went on together.”
Genesis 22:7-8

2I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

This story of Abraham and Isaac is one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible. It provides sufficient drama, intrigue, secrets and integrity to hold ones attention fully, and leaves you in awe, but still wondering when it is through.

Isaac intrigues me in this story. Although the Bible only records one interaction between he and his father, it is reasonable that there were many more …

perhaps discussing the humorous individuals in their camp of people
perhaps discussing the ewe about to birth
perhaps discussing the servant who always forgets to bring the morning meal on time

For Isaac, we presume that this trip was not out of routine, but a normal, common and regular movement of life.

Three days to journey.

Three days for this son, this son whose age we do not know (estimated to be anywhere between 5-30), to walk and talk with his aging father (well over seventy-five) who seems to be hanging onto every word Isaac speaks, and yet a million miles away at the same time.

On the third day of the journey, “he (Abraham) said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

WE … no reason for Isaac to doubt, to wonder, to worry.

But then, as Abraham is laying the wood for the burnt offering (tied together with the ropes that would hold the offering to the alter, no doubt) onto the back of his son, Isaac asks his father, “dad, we have the wood, we have the fire, but there is no lamb to suffer for our sins.”

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

Abraham responded with assurance and confidence again, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And doesn’t He always?

God, through the grace that only He can and does offer, provides.

He provides the redemption

He provides the forgiveness

He provides the lamb … his son.

Tomorrow, I will finish this mini-series on the testing of Abraham, with more about the lamb.

*This is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have always captivated me.

Read Full Post »

“Then God said,
“Take your son,
your only son, whom you love
—Isaac—
and go to the region of Moriah.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.””
Genesis 22:2

Whenever I read the story of Abraham being tested by God, my first thought is,

“I wonder how it would have gone if God had tested Sarah?”

Could a mother:

whose womb was empty beyond the age of human possibility,
who became pregnant as an old lady,
who felt her son’s movements in her womb,
who used more strength than she ever thought possible to push him into the world,
who counted his perfectly formed fingers and toes,
who nursed him at her breast,
who looked at his sleeping face willing that memory to be forever etched into her memory
who cleaned his scraped knees

… pass this test …SarahLaughed

I was reminded of the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube). Although the account of this test that God gives to Abraham in Genesis never mentions Sarah, the mini series version depicts the mother-heart of Sarah in a way that I could relate to.

In this made-for-television version, Sarah realizes that Abraham has gone, with Isaac, to make a sacrifice to God.

Now these sacrifices were not anything new! At least as far back as the time of Noah, who, upon exiting the ark that had been the floating home of he and his family for forty days, and forty nights, “built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it” (Genesis 8:20). Leviticus 17:11 says, “for the life of a creature is in the blood,and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

Blood, the source of life, for the sins of living.

So, when (in the mini series) Sarah realizes that Abraham has taken her son to the mountain, to offer a blood sacrifice, yet with no lamb to slaughter, she chases desperately after them.

I do not know if this happened.

I do believe that if she did, and if it were significant to the message that God wanted for us from this story, it would have been written there.

Perhaps, there is more value in there being no account of Sarah in this story. Perhaps, what God wanted was for those of us who are women, who are mothers, to ponder:

could we …

would we …

do we …

place God before all …

even our children?

*this is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have captivated me since I first heard it as a child.

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