A test of faith – Part 5

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

(continued from last post)

“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel of the LORD commanded.*** “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Then a noise caught my attention and I turned toward the thicket. There stood a ram.

The LORD will provide.

As I lifted Isaac from the altar, he woke.**  “Is the sacrifice ready, Father?” he asked.

“Yes, my son. The LORD has provided.”

As the ram burned on the altar–the blood of the sacrifice which redeemed my own son running down its sides, I worshiped God. Then the angel of the LORD called to me once more.

“This is what the LORD says: because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

The promise filled my heart as Isaac and I made our way down the mountain: “Through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed…” How could that be, I wondered?

The LORD will provide.

I believe He will, my brother. I believe He will.

Abraham

*This is the final part of a five part letter from Abraham on the test of faith recounted in Genesis 22:1-24. Some dialog is directly quoted from the Holy Bible (NLT).
**Blogger’s Note: The Scripture does not describe Isaac’s response to being laid on the altar and it does not state that Isaac was asleep. The lack of description gives rise to questions over his response, which I choose not to address here. Instead, I have recounted the story as if he was asleep during this time, as it silences the questions that otherwise must arise.
***Scholars believe that references in the Old Testament to “the angel of the LORD” are references to the pre-incarnate Jesus. Jesus-the One Abraham’s faith depends on and his story foreshadows, steps in to save. Jesus, the Savior of the world, saves Isaac, the son of the Promise who would be the forefather of the Promised Messiah.
(Genesis 22:1-24 – Scripture from The New Living Translation)
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A test of faith – Part 4

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

(continued from last post)

We reached the top and I built an altar. Isaac, weary from the journey, fell asleep as I worked.  I stacked the wood quietly, lifted the boy in my arms, and laid him there.** Tears filled my eyes. Anger began to rise up within me—didn’t this make God like all the other ‘gods’ the nations called upon? To ask for the sacrifice of a child! This makes Him no different!

But as swiftly as the thoughts took form, they dissolved, replaced by the truth beating in my own heart, pounding out the promise that God would provide.

This is different. This God I serve is powerful. He is not impotent. He is able to save. He brings His word to life. He fulfills His promises. A promise made 35 years ago is not forgotten. He indeed would provide. He can bring life from death.

I raised my knife to kill my only son.

“Abraham, Abraham!”

He calls me again. The angel of the LORD called my name.***

And for the second time in a week, I responded, “Yes, Here I am!”

(to be continued)

*This is the fourth part of a five part letter from Abraham on the test of faith recounted in Genesis 22:1-24. Some dialog is directly quoted from the Holy Bible (NLT).

**Blogger’s Note: The Scripture does not describe Isaac’s response to being laid on the altar and it does not state that Isaac was asleep. The lack of description gives rise to questions over his response, which I choose not to address here. Instead, I have recounted the story as if he was asleep during this time, as it silences the questions that otherwise must arise.

***Scholars believe that references in the Old Testament to “the angel of the LORD” are references to the pre-incarnate Jesus. Jesus-the One Abraham’s faith depends on and his story foreshadows, steps in to save. Jesus, the Savior of the world, saves Isaac, the son of the Promise who would be the forefather of the Promised Messiah.

(Genesis 22:1-24 – Scripture from The New Living Translation)
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A test of faith – Part 3

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

(continued from last post)

“The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

I winced at my ill-chosen words. But like a spark within my heart a thought rose to full flame and began to warm me from the inside out.

God will provide.

That was it. Suddenly I knew that this was what I must cling to. God will provide. He always has.

Isaac carried the wood, the weight of it resting on his young shoulders. Soon, his weight would rest on it. How could it be? The weight that he carried would soon bear his weight.

The fire flickered in my hand as we journeyed up the mountain, the flame in my heart flickering between doubt and faith.

“Father,” Isaac spoke up, “we have fire and wood. But where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

I felt a piercing pain, as if the knife in my hand had pierced my own heart. In my weakness, I spoke softly, “God will provide.”

With my own words spoken, the flame of faith burned brighter.

(to be continued)

*This is the third part of a five part letter from Abraham on the test of faith recounted in Genesis 22:1-24. Some dialog is directly quoted from the Holy Bible (NLT).
(Genesis 22:1-24 – Scripture from The New Living Translation)
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A test of faith – Part 2

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

(continued from last post)

It has been two days since I began recounting the events of those days. For two days, I have been unable to think again of that call.

I rose the next morning without a word to anyone—especially Sarah—of my encounter with God.

Calling two servants, I asked them to prepare for travel. I told Sarah that Isaac and I would go to worship the LORD in the region of Moriah. She didn’t want to let him go. He’d never been away from her.

The journey took three days. My heart was heavy and Isaac’s lively chatter made me want to turn back. But God had spoken. And not for the first time.

By this time, I had spent nearly forty years following God’s word. Forty long years of giving up whatever God asked and experiencing His presence and calling. In my heart, I knew this God who called me was faithful to His promises.

Isaac was the child of the promise. Through him, God had guaranteed generations of my lineage. I couldn’t see the way forward, but my only option was to trust in Him.

“Father,” Isaac spoke up as we neared the place where we would stop. “When I grow up, I want to worship the LORD like you do. Will He speak to me?”

“When I grow up…”

Those words rang in my ears as I called to the servants to stop here.

(to be continued)

*This is the second part of a five part letter from Abraham on the test of faith recounted in Genesis 22:1-24. Some dialog is directly quoted from the Holy Bible (NLT).
(Genesis 22:1-24 – Scripture from The New Living Translation)
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A test of faith – Part 1

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

Dear Brother,

I am unsure how to write the words I’ve sat down to write to you. The experience I must recount is so terrible and holy, my heart and hands tremble at the memory. (I feel like an old man as I write that.) But I can’t neglect the task of writing down the encounter I had with the Most High God.

Some time after my last letter to you, the LORD called to me. He called my name. It wasn’t during my prayers or worship time, but in the midst of the evening while I wound down my work.

“Abraham,” He called. I looked around to be sure that no one else had called to me. But I was alone. “Yes,” I replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

Sacrifice my only son. The child of the promise.

Brother, I have long dreamed of a son of my own. You know how long I waited for the promised son.  When Ishamel was born, I was overjoyed, but the discouragement Sarah felt was overwhelming. Then God fulfilled His word—and Isaac brought us joy and laughter.

And now this. How could God take this son from us? How could He leave me with no child? First, I turn my back on Ishmael. Then, I must sacrifice—put to death—the child I sought longest, waited 25 years for! It felt like I was to put to death God’s promise itself.

Just recounting the story overwhelms me.

(to be continued)

*This is the first part of a five part letter from Abraham on the test of faith recounted in Genesis 22:1-24. Some dialog is directly quoted from the Holy Bible (NLT).
(Genesis 22:1-24 – Scripture from The New Living Translation)
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This home is temporary…

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Beersheba, Land of the Philistines

Dear Brother,

Some days the weight of being a foreigner in a land not my own can be overwhelming. But the LORD, the Eternal God I serve, is faithful.

Treaties and compromise are requirements of this journey I am on. The relationship I forge with the king of the Philistines determines my family’s provision for land on which to graze our flocks and wells required to support both the animals and ourselves.

We are residents but foreigners at the same time. Tenants of a land not our own. Sometimes I grow too comfortable here, but then I am reminded of God’s promise—that my offspring will inherit a land flowing with milk and honey. A land of beauty. My weary bones ache to rest in a land where there is no need for compromise, no need for journeying onward. A final resting place that I can call home.

I once thought contentment would be found in the birth of my son, Isaac, the son of the promise.

I am again reminded that there was more to God’s promise to me—a land of promise. I have found God faithful. He will bring this to pass.

I planted a tree at Beersheba yesterday, a reminder that while growth is slow, God will bring about what He has planned. And then I worshipped Him.

Trusting,

Abraham

(Genesis 21:22-34)

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A Father Turns His Face Away

To Nahor, Son of Terah
Ur, Land of the Chaldeans

From Abram, Son of Terah
Gerar, Negev Region

Dear Brother,

My soul is heavy and weary as I write this day. How can life hold both such incredible joy and such depth of pain? How can a mere hour change victory to sorrow? How do our hearts and minds grapple with gain followed so swiftly by loss? And why does God ask this—require this—of us? What is the benefit?

It seems intense fear is the flip side of love—or is it? Sarah’s heart feared the son of Hagar. In his youth, I’m sure he knew not what he did, but his actions concerned her greatly. She told me to send them away. How could I send my own son away empty-handled and without the support of a family of servants and protection? The first son to bear my image sent out from me…my heart ached deeply at her request.

Isaac, he is the son of the promise. I know my relations with Hagar were wrong, taking matters into my own hands because of my impatience. But it isn’t the boy’s fault. How I ache to see my folly visited upon my child—my own son.

I wrestled with the decision before me. But then God spoke—He made me a promise. Ishmael, He said, would also become the father of a nation.

The parting was more than I could bear. As Ishmael cried, looking up at me, I turned my face away. How could I have done that—to turn my face from my son in pain? How does a father turn his face away?

Could this ever be God’s will?

Oh, that I had never begun this journey in the first place. Pray for Ishmael’s salvation. Brother, please pray.

Broken,

Abraham

(Genesis 21:8-14)

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