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Eventually, God did fulfill all of His promises to Abraham in spite of this wavering. In their old age, God blessed Abraham and Sarah with their long-awaited son, Isaac, and He made another promised to bless all nations through this boy. He told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
Abraham learned the hard way, the shameful way, that God was FAITHFUL. He learned to doubt his doubts and trust God completely. In the final analysis, it was the LORD who always came through, while Abraham was the one who fell short.
When Abraham marched obediently to God's order to sacrifice his son, this was the background knowledge he had. He knew that Yahweh had always been faithful to His word. He knew the terrible mistakes made in not trusting or obeying the Lord's sovereign instructions. He also knew what God had promised regarding Isaac's future, so he trusted that in the very worst case, Yahweh would resurrect Isaac after he was killed in sacrifice. (Are you seeing a foreshadowing of Jesus here?)
We gain that same faithful trust and obedience, enabling us to place our children on the altar, by doing what Abraham did. First, we must spend the time to get to know God. Abraham wasn't trusting a stranger. He got to intimately know God's character over the years he spent with Him. Today we have a means to know our Creator that Abraham didn't have -- His Word, His love letter to us, the Bible. We have the advantage of hundreds of different translations of God's word both in print and electronically. We have only ourselves to blame if we don't get to know Him and His immutable character.
Next, we must remember the countless times the Lord has been faithful to us in the past. Counting our blessings big and small brings encouragement and helps us to remember who God is. Starting a gratitude journal where we write down the daily gifts God grants us is a great way to start. This gives us something to look back on when our stubborn brains can't remember on their own. I can't help but smile and have my faith bolstered every time I flip through the pages of mine.
Finally, we must trust in His promises for the future. When the Lord tells us He plans to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11), we need to believe that the One who has been faithful in the past, will remain faithful to the end. His past track record with us and with others throughout all of history should be more than enough to earn our confidence that He will come through for us in the days ahead.
This wasn't easy for Abraham, and it won't be easy for us. It's fascinating reading Matthew Henry's commentary on this chapter as he notes that God stretched Abraham by asking him to make a 3 day journey to sacrifice Isaac. This wasn't a quick, easy request, but a prolonged agony.
How many of us can relate to that truth? What is the long continued misery that God is asking you to lay on the altar with your child? Is it the health issues that just don't seem to improve? Is it the difficulty with the school that seems to never end? Is it the ruminating and sleep deprivation that are pushing the family to the very outer limits of sanity? Is it conflict with your spouse because you never seem to be in sync with sharing responsibility or uniting in decision-making?
Our human inclination is to question God, to delay our obedience, to seek human counsel rather than placing it all on the altar, trusting "Jehovah Jireh," God the Provider, with the outcome. Friend, let's learn from Abraham by getting to know our Maker, remembering His past faithfulness, and trusting in His promises. Then lay it all down and watch the miracles happen!
PRAY: Thank You, LORD, that even when we are faithless, YOU are faithful! Grow us in trust and obedience, all for our good and Your glory.
~ Barb Dittrich
* Henry, Matthew (1997), MATTHEW HENRY'S CONCISE COMMENTARY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN, p 38