Read His Words Before Ours!
After a long wait, at the ripe old age of 100, Abraham was finally blessed with the arrival of Isaac, the son God promised him years earlier. (Genesis 21:1-5) One cannot imagine the celebration of the birth of this long-awaited son; Abraham’s joy must have known no bounds!
But it appears the joy was cut short; a few years later, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his precious, promised son to God. (Genesis 22:1-2) We imagine Abraham must have been confused; God’s promise of offspring more numerous than the stars in the sky was to be fulfilled through Isaac. Yet Abraham heeded the voice of God, though he could not understand God’s plan.
Nowhere do we learn Abraham consulted with his wife, Sarah, or procrastinated as he grappled with this heartbreaking command. Instead, “he got up early in the morning” (Genesis 22:3) and went with his son to Mount Moriah, the location God specified for the sacrifice. After arranging everything, he tied his son and laid him on the altar; as Abraham raised his knife to slaughter Isaac, God called out to him not to harm his son, and provided a lamb in place of Isaac for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:9-14)
For God to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, does not mean He delights in human sacrifice. In fact, He had no intention of allowing Isaac to die. He tested Abraham to know the measure of his love for Him. To His delight, Abraham’s love for God was in full measure; nothing shared a space in Abraham’s heart with God, even his only son Isaac. By that act of obedience on the part of Abraham, God confirmed Abraham’s love for Him.
Centuries later, Jesus (whose earthly father was descended from Abraham through Isaac) would succinctly encapsulate the devotion Abraham lived before God:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
Do we love God this way as “first” and “most”? We proclaim our love for God in prayers and songs, but does it sink deep into our hearts? It is one thing to nod assent, another to live in the place of willingness to sacrifice all else for this love of ONE.
How could God ask us to love Him so singularly?
Because He singularly set His own love upon us.
He loves, not because of anything we do, but because He chose to love us and be faithful to us.
Centuries later, Father God sacrificed His own Son on another hill outside of Jerusalem (visible from Mt. Moriah!). There was no voice to stop the slaying on that day; in fact, “the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.” (Isaiah 53:10)
Ephesians 5:2 describes Jesus’ sacrificial death.
“Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”
Amazing! It pleased God the Father to crush His only Son, in whom He is well-pleased, because of the love He has for you and me. I can imagine a scenario where the Son was agonizing on the cross and the Father smiling, not because He enjoyed the scene, but celebrating our liberation and restoration into His family.
He chose to forsake His Son on the cross, and offered us a gracious welcome into His family. Oh, what love!
His act of love changed our status and our destiny.
“So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household[.]” (Ephesians 2:19)
So we see God deserves our singular love; the question is, how do we show Him we love Him first and best and most?
First, we demonstrate our love by obeying Him. Jesus said,
“The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” (John 14:21)
We can’t say we love God if we fail to obey His instructions, even when His instructions are hard to follow. This is the type of obedience Abraham lived out.
Another way we demonstrate we love God is by trusting Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Trusting God means believing His words, whether they make sense to us or not, because His ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9) I imagine God’s command to sacrifice Isaac made little sense to Abraham, yet he trusted in “the One who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17)
God gave Abraham an opportunity to sort out which love would come first in his heart, either his love for Isaac, or his love for His God, from whom Isaac was a miraculous gift?
Sisters, He extends to us the same opportunity to sort which love will reign in our hearts. If God’s love for us compelled Him to crush His only begotten Son in order to restore us to Himself, is there anything too hard for us to do for Him?
We must each decide; will we love Him first and best and most?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!