Abraham obeyed when God told him to leave his home for a land he did not even know. He followed God’s Word and left at once, knowing that at God’s own time, He will show him the land. A lesson for us: Many times we don’t obey His voice because He (God) has not given us all the details. Obedience is learnt a step at a time, one moment at a time. God will reveal His plans only if we obey what He has made plain. In Abraham’s case, what God had made plain was “Leave Ur and move out I will show you the land later, for now just move.”
However even the Father of faith had his own character flaws. The bible does not hide the mistakes of its heroes. This is encouraging to us when we tend to despair on account of our flaws in character. He knows us already and if we fully place our lives in his care, He will help us overcome our apparently insurmountable defects of character. Let us take a closer look at Abraham’s one flaw in character:
- He half-truth told to Pharaoh
Genesis 12:10-13 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he came near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see you, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save you alive. Say, I pray you, that you are my sister: that it may be well with me for your sake; and my soul shall live because of you.
– Note that God didn’t tell Abraham to go to Egypt.
– In fear, he opted to use his own wisdom and not to rely on a plain “Thus says the Lord”- Who cannot relate?
- The choice of Hagar
Genesis 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing: I pray you, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Abraham had accepted without question the promise of a son, but he did not wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and way. A delay was permitted, to test his faith in the power of God; but he failed to endure the trial.
In both instances above, the test to Abraham was if He could totally, wholly rely upon nothing but the Word of God, or if he could rely on self. There was an enemy that Abraham needed to overcome, and that enemy was self. The greatest barrier to hearing when God calls is self. When in the path of obedience, often we will hear the enemy whisper to us: “Yes God will protect you against the Pharaoh, but I (self) think there is an easier way out.” And yeah sometimes we convince ourselves to do stupid things.
I like the way Genesis 22 begins: After these things- What things? Abraham’s failures, his failure to depend on God. Why did God choose to come to Abraham at this time? We can never go so far that the grace of God cannot reach us. Abraham by now had seen the folly of trusting his own wisdom, yet there was another test that was before him- the closest that man has ever been called to endure.
Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.
The command was expressed in words that must have wrung with anguish that father’s heart. Isaac was the light of his home, the solace of his old age, above all else the inheritor of the promised blessing. The loss of such a son by accident or disease would have been heart rending to the fond father; it would have bowed down his whitened head with grief; but he was commanded to shed the blood of that son with his own hand. It seemed to him a fearful impossibility. Abraham must have had close communion with God to know that this was indeed his voice, not the devil telling him to commit murder. Will he obey this time? Will he allow self to interpose? Abraham travelled 3 days to Mount Moriah, sufficient time to convince himself out of strict obedience, but he chose to obey the Word, at whatever cost to himself.
When he was just about to slay Isaac, God called his name- twice. To God it was as good as done.
1. Totally renounce reliance on self. Totally rely on God’s Word
– Abraham learnt well to rely on a plain “Thus says the Lord, even when it didn’t make perfect sense.” His biddings are enablings, as soon as He makes plain His Word to us, God demands nothing but perfect obedience to His Word.
2. Loving God with all.
We know the first and greatest commandment. It is not just to love God, but to Love God with ALL. Isaac was Abraham’s all. Yet he loved God more than Isaac, or his wife Isaac’s wishes.
He was to give Isaac as a burnt offering. Years later, God revealed to Moses a truth of how burnt offerings were offered- a truth that had been lost sight of by the Israelites in their many years in bondage.
Leviticus 1:9 But its entrails and its legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma unto the LORD.
Numbers 19:5 And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
A burnt offering was not burnt offering if they did not burn it all. Abraham knew this. He had to give ALL of his best. Yet our motivation to give our all is in Him who gave His all for us. In this story we see a shadow of how Christ withheld nothing for our sake. For God SO loved the World that He gave His ALL. In that gift of Christ was all the riches of heaven.
Isn’t it unimaginable that we can withhold anything from one who so loved us, and gave us His all. And please note that he does not ask us to give up what would be beneficial to us. Whatever he asks us to surrender to Him, it is for our own good.
After this display of utter reliance on God and total surrender of ALL to God, God called Abraham by his name twice
Genesis 22:11-12 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do you anything unto him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
– What are you withholding from God? Your career? Relationships? Your life? Your health? Your time?
– I pray those Words could be said of me and you- NOW I KNOW that you love me, seeing that you have not withheld your life, your career, your relationship, your time etc from me.
– I pray that we will give a burnt offering to the Lord. We will offer ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God
But we never can prove,
The delights of His love,
Until ALL on the altar we lay.