Our Reality: (Observe)
As you look back at your journey of faith, what milestones can you recall? Faith is a process of growth, a journey. While we are judicially declared righteous at salvation, it takes the rest of our life time to work that out in our practice. Faith is also a process. God gives us milestones along the way, but many times, it’s simply learning to trust him through the mundane of life. And in time we see that we are trusting God more today than we were yesterday.
Today we will be looking at a major milestone in Abraham’s journey of faith.
Our Responsibility: (Observe, Reflect, Discuss)
Take a few minutes to read these verses and meditate on the questions below.
Genesis 22:1-24; Hebrews 11:1, 17-19
I haven’t been very consistent in my study, so to start my study today, I took a few minutes to go back and remind myself of where I have been. We continue to look at the foundation for Paul’s declarations, “For me to live is Christ…” Paul tried to express what it means practically in his life through the words of Gal 2:20. “It’s not I that lives, but Christ that lives through me…” God created us for this purpose, and redeemed us for the same purpose of being the physical visible display of Him… our hands and feet, ears mouth and eyes, heart and mind, to be the instruments He uses to display Himself on earth. The answer to that in the New Testament is Christ in us. But, how did that happen in the Old Testament?
So far, we have seen the following:
- (Gen 1-6) Knowledge without the sacrifice, and God’s imputed righteousness, produced every thought and intent of the heart being only evil continuously. Knowledge alone did not enable man to display God’s image.
- (Gen 7-11) Human authority, or trying to follow a human example, even if that example was a good one (Noah) without the sacrifice and God’s imputed righteousness, produced only pride and self-exaltation and not the pursuit of God’s name and God’s glory
- (Gen 12-15) God chose one man, Abram. Abram faithfully brought sacrifices to God and acknowledged his inability to live righteously. In chapter 15 we saw the first major milestone, he put his complete faith in God’s promise and gave himself completely to God in dependence upon God’s character, to fulfill that promise. God, knowing it was genuine, declared him righteous and imputed righteousness to him, based on that faith.
(Gen 16-21) Since that declaration in Chapter 15 God has been continuing to work with Abraham to hone and refine his faith.
- After 11 years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah helped God out with His promise. They didn’t doubt God’s promise, but were unclear on God’s method, so they thought He needed their help.
- With Lot, we saw Abraham’s faith displayed in his prayer regarding the righteous people of Sodom. Believing God to be the protector of the righteous.
- From the situation with Abilimilech and Abraham lying about Sarah being his wife, we learned that “Abraham’s faith was empowered by contemplating God’s power! The more Abraham looked at who he was and who God was, the more empowered—fully persuaded—he became that God was able to do that which he had promised.”
- Then, in our last study, we saw through God’s harsh dealing with Hagar and Ishmael a clear statement that there is nothing except what God produces that He will recognize as legitimate work.
- (22:2) How did God describe Isaac, and what did He ask Abraham to do?
- (22:3-6) How quickly did Abraham obey?
- (22:5-8; Hebrews 11:17-19) What was going through Abraham’s head? What does this show about Abraham’s faith?
- (22:8) How did Abraham respond to Isaac’s questions?
- (22:9-10) How far did Abraham have to go before God stepped in? How committed was he?
- (22:11-12, 16-18) How did God respond to Abraham’s faith?
I really like how Major Ian Thomas describes this situation. In chapter 1 of “The Mystery of Godliness” he wrote this:
“At God’s command Abraham took Isaac, laid him on the altar he had built and took his knife to slay him, and with actions far more eloquent than words, he said to God by what he did, “You promised me Isaac! I did not see how You could do it, and in my unbelief and in my folly I produced my Ishmael; I committed myself to Your will and thought I was more competent than God. Now You tell me to slay him, my only son Isaac in whom You have promised that all the families of the earth shall be blessed. O God, if I slay him, I do not see how You can do it, but now I am committed to You—exclusively—and to all that for which You are committed in me. If slay him I must, then slay him I will—even if You have to raise him from the dead!” (see Heb. 11:17–19). And in so many words God said to Abraham, “Thank you, Abraham! That is all I wanted to know—now you can throw your knife away!” (Gen. 22:12, 16–18)
While Abraham had come to the place back in Chapter 15 where he was putting his faith in God’s promise, he still had to grow more. I have to wonder how he would have responded to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac if it was given back in Chapter 15? I think he may have tried to figure out away, in his own strength, to help God keep his promise, without the sacrifice?? I don’t know. But, God had taken Abraham on a journey of failure doubt and discouragement, to bring him to this place.
Major Ian Thomas went on to say’
“Abraham had learned the secret of true commitment, and he became “a friend of God” (James 2:23). This is reality—and this is discipleship! It is “godliness in action.” Presenting all that you are—nothing—to all that He is—everything—you are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively for all that to which He is committed in you. And you may be supremely confident that He who dwells in you as the Father dwelt in Him is gloriously adequate for all that to which He is committed.”
Abraham had learned that God is the one who will fulfill what He has committed to do. He doesn’t need our help to do it. He just needs us to be available and obedient. He desires that everything we do, say and are, reflect Him. He will be doing the work through us, using our hands and feet and mouth. We just need to let Him do what He is committed to doing!
Our Response: (Plan, Be Accountable, Act) Restfully Available, Instantly Obedient.
So, where are you at? Are you restfully available to God? Are you instantly obedient to what He wants to use your hands and feet and mouth to do? I will leave you with Ian Thomas’ closing comments:
Are you prepared for this to be the quality of your commitment to Christ? If so, then every lesser issue has been comprehended in the greater. It is now no longer necessary for me to ask you whether you are prepared to go to the mission field! It is now no longer necessary for me to ask you whether you are prepared to put your bank account at Christ’s disposal, or your time or your home, or to face you with any other issue I could think of! You would say to me at once, “These issues now have all been settled—finally, once and for all! If Christ is committed in me to go to the mission field, I am already committed to Him for this! If He is committed in me to use the very last dollar I possess and every other dollar I shall ever earn, I am already committed to Him for this and for everything and anything else to which He may be committed in me! There are no more issues for me to face—only His instructions to obey! I know too that for all His will, I have all that He is—and this is all I need to know!”
Heavenly Father, thank you for continuing to hone and shape my faith. Thank you that you did not expect complete and total surrender the moment I believed. Just like Abraham you are taking me on a journey to develop my faith. And God, I ask you, I invite you to develop in me a heart of faith like this. I want to be restfully available for you to use my hands, my feet, my mouth to be a physical display of you to everyone I meet today. Teach me to be instantly obedient to what you desire to do today. May I be absolutely confident, as Abraham was, that you are you are completely adequate to accomplish through me what you are committed to do. Teach me to rest in you.