Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 13–15
Chronological Order: Joshua 16:1–19:16
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 28
New Testament Only: Luke 4:1–15

Daily Verse: Leviticus 20:26  Leviticus 20. 26

Bible Study

Marry In The Family Of God

Passage: Genesis 22:20-24

Abraham’s father, Terah, fathered three sons; Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran died in Ur before Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot off toward Canaan. They didn’t make it to Cannan. They stopped in a spot along the way and they named it after Haran. It was only after Terah died there at Haran that God told Abram to continue on his journey to Canaan. In the meantime, Nahor married and had children of his own. This little bit of family history relayed to us in Genesis 11:27-32 may have seemed extraneous at the time we read it, as would the verses at the end of chapter 22, but it actually is important to the ongoing story of the messianic line.

Genesis 22:20-24 ESV

[20] Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: [21] Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, [22] Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” [23] (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. [24] Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

After the story of God providing the sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son Isaac, this little bit of Scripture seems like a non-sequitur. In fact, neither this bit of Scripture, nor the bit in Genesis 11, has much meaning until we get to chapter 24. You see, Isaac’s wife will be the daughter of Bethuel who is mentioned in Genesis 22:23, but we won’t read the story of how all of this comes about until chapter 24.

I’m not going to jump ahead to chapter 24; I simply want to point out that genealogy is important to God. Who we marry matters. Abraham will send his servant to his brother’s family to find a wife for his son. Terah, Abraham’s father was descended from Noah’s son Shem. This is the line that will bear the Messiah. This was the line that remained faithful to God which is why the Messiah would come through that line. God has always maintained a remnant of those who would belong to Him. Terah’s trip to Canaan, and God’s subsequent bequeathing of Canaan to Abraham, were all part of the prophecy declared in Genesis 9:25-27. Canaan would be the servant of Shem.

Now that Abraham lived in Canaan there was no suitable bride for Isaac. As the story of Sodom exemplified, the people of Canaan were far from God and destined for destruction. Abraham did not want his son to stray from God; he did not want for his son a woman who would lead him away. Abraham knew that his relations back in Ur were descendants of Shem and that they had a relationship with God. This is the kind of woman he wanted for his son. Abraham was attempting to ensure that his son would be equally yoked in marriage to a woman who would know and worship the One True God.

In a couple of weeks I will be standing in for Pastor Jim Cross for Sunday morning worship. To keep us on track with his preaching plan, I will be preaching on Christians being unequally yoked. I’m afraid today we don’t think much about Christians marrying non-Christians. That is an unfortunate mistake with dire consequences. We think love conquers all. God’s love does conqueror all, but what many in our modern society mistake for love today conquers nothing.

I was sitting in my car today listening to a sermon preached by J. Vernon McGee. Interestingly enough he touched upon this very issue. He told of a Christian woman coming to him to discuss a possible marriage with a non-Christian. Dr. McGee told her that doing so was un-biblical. He advised her strongly to walk away from the relationship. A few years later she was back complaining about her godless husband and the misery of her marriage. She whined “why is God letting this happen to me”? She concluded that her husband was just her cross to bear. In essence Dr. McGee told her that her marriage was not a cross, undeserved torcher, but the consequences of her disregard for God’s Word. He told her not to whine to God about her trouble but to ask for His forgiveness for her disobedience.

We bring so much trouble and misery into our lives because we think we know better than God. We think “oh these are just outdated rules that don’t apply in a modern society”. Why do we think that? What evidence is there for that ridiculous idea? It certainly isn’t a biblical idea. We ignore God’s guidance at our own peril. Abraham will show a great deal of spiritual wisdom when he sends his servant to find a wife for his son from his people. We will see that Isaac’s and Rebekah’s marriage was not perfect. There will be plenty of difficulty and family dysfunction along the way. In fact there will be very ungodly behavior.

Jacob will one day have to run for his life because of his deceitful behavior toward his father and brother. It is during his escape, this low point in his life, that he will first draw near to God. He learned of God, however, from his parents. While his parents weren’t perfect, they introduced him to the One True God; they prepared him to grow in his relationship with God.

I worry sometimes that my daughter is not growing as much or as quickly in her relationship with God as I would like. I have to remind myself that my job is to introduce her to God and to prepare her to grow with Him; the rest is up to her and God – including the timing. I am currently attempting to subtly help her come to realize that when looking for a mate she needs to conduct her search in the family of God. I hope you will encourage your children to do the same. While marrying a Christian won’t guarantee a trouble free marriage, it will certainly avoid much worse.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 9–12
Chronological Order: Joshua 14–15
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 26–27
New Testament Only: Luke 3

Daily Verse: Judges 6:13-14  Judges 6. 13-14

Day of Rest

Saturdays are a day of rest for me in my blog writing. I write the blog a day ahead so this means it is a day of rest from my commentary for you on Sundays. Enjoy your day of worship!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 4–8
Chronological Order: Joshua 11–13
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 23–25
New Testament Only: Luke 2:41–52

Daily Verse: Psalm 62:8  Psalm 62. 8

Bible Study

His Voice

Passage: Genesis 22

I want to use today’s post to recap something I shared with you yesterday, but before I do let me cover a little housekeeping. Last Saturday I asked you guys for feedback on how things were going this year. I knew at the time that you are all very busy and that I wouldn’t get a lot of responses, but three of you did find the time to write a response. One brother liked how things were going this year, another kind of missed the commentary being tied to a specific reading plan, and the third was fine either way. So much for trying to find a consensus! I truly appreciate you guys taking the time to comment and truly appreciate your thoughts. I believe we will continue down the path we’ve started. I do want to point out a couple of things, however, that I think will help anyone who does desire a reading plan.

It is more important to read God’s Word than my words. At the top of each post are Scripture references for four different reading plans. If you don’t feel you are getting enough daily Scripture I implore you to follow one of these plans. Now I realize that doesn’t address the issue of having commentary to go along with your reading which is really what one brother preferred. While I can’t solve that specific problem with what we are doing this year, I would like to recommend that, barring following one of the reading plans, an approach might be to read, and re-read, the chapter upon which I’m commenting. Going over Scripture with a fine tooth comb is part of what we are trying to do with this year’s approach. By going over the same Scripture you have a chance to think on it more deeply and perhaps discover something new. If that is a bit more reading that you care for, I do try to comment upon a small bit of Scripture every day and I do list that reference at the top of each post. You can just click on that link to read that bit of Scripture. Of course I usually include that Scripture in the post so you can go either way with that. (Today is an exception to the rule.)

I realize I can’t provide exactly what everyone wants and I appreciate those of you who are following along even though it might not be your preferred approach. Of course I appreciate all of you and any feedback you choose to provide. Like you, I am a work in progress and need the help, guidance, and encouragement of my brothers in Christ. Thank you for being a part of Brothers of the Book.

Now, I would like to touch upon “hearing God’s voice” for a moment. Yesterday I wrote on this topic but my focus was wide. I’d like to be more concise about the issue because it is so important for all of us. There are a lot of voices coming at us every day; family, friends, co-workers, store clerks, radio, television, internet, magazines, and books (I’m sure I’ve missed some voices). We also have our own thoughts and then there is the issue of voices emanating from the spiritual realm. Satan is known as the Great Deceiver. On a spiritual level he will often whisper to us to indulge our carnal desires. We have a natural desire to do wrong. Satan encourages us to go with that desire. And then there is God Himself who speaks softly and calls us to do right.

Life in modern America is full of noise and distraction. We are awash with banging drums and clanging cymbals. Everyone shouts to be heard. Underneath it all is God softly calling to His children to obey. God is easily drowned out by all this noise. Worse, we often mistake our own thoughts, or the thoughts of others, as God’s voice. How is a man supposed to know which is God’s voice and which is not? That is not as difficult a question as one might initially suppose.

Do you know your dad’s voice? Do you know your mom’s voice? Do you know the voice of your children, co-workers, and friends? Usually, if any of these people call us on the phone, we recognize them immediately. As part of phone etiquette we always tell people who is calling, but when it comes to people with whom we are close, an introduction would not be necessary; we would hear their voice and know immediately who they are. The closer we are to the person, the more readily we recognize their voice. When I haven’t spoken to someone in a while I can forget what they sound like and it takes a little while before I’m back to full and quick recognition. Familiarity is what helps me recognize a voice.

To get to a place where you recognize God’s voice you must spend a good deal of time with Him on a regular and on-going basis. Going to church is essential to growing in our faith but for many that is the extent of our relationship with God. We go to church, we sing of our love for Him, we sing our praise to Him, and then we hear the preacher read God’s Word and share a truth from the text. If we attend Sunday School then we may discuss God’s Word with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This corporal time in God’s Word is important, but how close would you grow to your spouse if the only time you spent time with her was in a gathering of friends?

To truly learn to know God’s voice you must spend time every day listening to God. We do this by reading God’s Word and then praying with an open heart, seeking His will. We are told in the Bible that we can, and should, come to God with our concerns, but if we hope to learn to hear His voice our prayer must also include a time of listening. The best way to accomplish this is to find a quiet place every day where you can be alone with God. Begin by praying to Him that He would reveal His will to you as you read His Holy Word. Read His Word and then pray once more. As you quietly sit, in an attitude of prayer, contemplate what you’ve read and then just listen. Be quiet before God. At first you won’t hear anything. You are simply beginning to train yourself to ask the right questions and then to listen for the answers. One day, if you truly desire to hear God’s voice, and faithfully pursue Him, you will hear Him.

Jesus said His sheep know His voice. They know His voice because they have spent time with Him. Brother, spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Stop talking and start listening. His voice will be heard.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: 1 Samuel 1–3
Chronological Order: Joshua 8–10
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 20–22
New Testament Only: Luke 2:22–40

Daily Verse: Psalm 34:4  Psalm 34. 4

Bible Study

Don’t Delay – Obey!

Passage: Genesis 22:15-18

(NOTE: Guys, I apologize. I’m afraid I got on a role today. The post that follows is almost 1,500 words. Read God’s words and skip mine if you are pressed for time.)

Can you tell when God is speaking to you? Do you know the difference between His voice and your desires? Do you know the difference between His voice and that of the Deceiver? Jesus said that His sheep know His voice (John 10:27). He meant that His followers, those who have submitted to His Lordship over their lives and accepted His incredible gift of salvation through His sacrifice upon the cross, would be able to tell the difference. This is, I believe, because we Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit. As I’ve said many times before, having the indwelling Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we can’t do wrong, it means that when we do wrong it will bother the tar out of us. God’s Holy Spirit writhes within us when we do that which is contrary to holiness.

I am providing this long preamble to my remarks because I want to write about obedience to God. To obey Him, however, we must be able to hear Him, and to hear Him we must be able to distinguish His voice from the many others that are screaming in our ears. God speaks with a soft, certain voice. He never speaks contrary to His will as expressed in His Holy Word. This episode of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his child brought to mind a horrible story I remember from many years ago. A woman had drowned her several children in a bath tub. When asked why she did it, she claimed that God had told her to do it. She heard voices telling her to kill her children.

There was no question this woman was mentally incompetent. She was suffering from post-partum depression. The signs of her mental deterioration were there, but they were missed by those who could have done something about it. It was a horrible tragedy. The news seems to be very good at finding people who do crazy, hateful, horrible things allegedly because God told them to.

I tell you God does not tell people to do crazy, hateful, horrible things. If you have even a passing knowledge of the Bible, however, you will no doubt throw at me evidence that this is not so. You will point out God instructing the Israelites to wipe out every man, woman, and child in Canaan. You will point out the death of every first born child and animal in Egypt under Pharaoh’s reign. The list goes on and on, but Abraham being told to kill his child would probably top that list. To us these may seem like extremely horrible things. It is God’s world and He has every right to command what He does. Because we can’t see the whole picture we may not understand that what He commands is not horrible but righteous. We are simply judging from an ill-informed, narrow, and biased perspective.

If I told you a story about a man who was drugged and when he woke up he found that his leg was missing, I’m sure you would see that as a horrible act. Who could do such a thing? Of course if I gave you some more details you might not feel that way. If I told you the man was in a hospital and that he had gangrene and if the doctor hadn’t amputated that leg he would have died, you probably would think that the thing done to him was good. We like to go around saying “judge not lest you be judged” and then we go around judging God. We don’t have all of the facts and I for one am not foolish enough to stand in judgment of Him. He is the Judge; not me or you.

That said, what is the difference between what God told Abraham to do and what that poor demented woman thought God told her to do? Well, that woman was not in her right mind. The voices she heard were her own. It is possible that Satan had a hand in that as well. Whatever the case, the voice was not God’s. How do I know? What she did was not consistent with God’s will. Where else in the Bible does God command parents to kill their children? Nowhere. The whole point of this story is that God does not want children sacrificed to Him. God did not intend Abraham to kill his child and as the chapter 22 reveals, God stopped Abraham from doing so. That Scripture also makes it clear that Abraham knew that somehow God would provide the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). Elsewhere in the Old Testament, God makes it clear that child sacrifice is an abomination; an exceedingly great sin.

The real point here is that Abraham was in his right mind and that he already had a relationship with God. He knew God’s voice well enough to know he was indeed hearing from God. Abraham was spiritually mature enough to hear what God had said and to obey, trusting completely in Him. With all of his faults, and all of his stumbles, Abraham had at least one very impressive quality; he never delayed in obeying God.

When God told Abraham to circumcise himself and his household, the Bible tells us he did so “on that very day” (Genesis 17:23). I have to tell you, I would need some time to work myself up to such a thing. When God told Abraham to do as Sarah said and send Hagar and Ishmael away, “early the next morning” he did so (Genesis 21:14). God told Abraham to sacrifice his son and “early the next morning” Abraham started out to just that (Genesis 22:3). Abraham can be faulted for much, but delay in obeying God isn’t one of them. Psalm 119:60 could easily have been quoting Abraham.

Psalm 119:60 ESV

I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.

So why is it so important to obey God without delay. The late, great preacher Adrian Rogers once said, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”. Disobedience leads to disaster. We disobey God left and right, bringing all kinds of disaster into our lives, and when that disaster hits we whine, complain, and berate God for letting it happen. Disaster in life comes from living in a fallen world and is usually ushered into our lives by our own bad decisions. Hey, we can live a pretty upright life and still have awful things happen to us; again that comes from living in a fallen world, but we can certainly make things worse by disobeying God.

The flip side of that coin is God’s blessing. The Bible teaches us that God will use all thing, including the bad things that happen to us, for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Jesus said, if you love me you will obey me (John 14:15). Loving God means obeying God, and obeying God leads to blessings, even blessing from disaster. Here is what God had to say about Abraham’s obedience.

Genesis 22:15-18 ESV

[15] And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven [16] and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, [17] I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, [18] and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Blessing comes from obeying God. It starts with submitting your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accepting Him as your Savior. It continues as you read His Holy Word and pray with a desire to know and do His will. It grows as you attend church and then get active in building the kingdom of God. It finds maturity in seeing everything that happens to you as an opportunity to glorify God. Blessing finds its fulfillment when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil and face our Maker covered in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Every step is part of the blessing. Be blessed by God. Get to know His voice and then obey Him immediately.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Ruth 1–4
Chronological Order: Joshua 4–7
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 16:9–19:21
New Testament Only: Luke 2:1–21

Daily Verse: Genesis 22:8   Genesis 22. 8

Bible Study

God Will Provide The Sacrifice

Passage: Genesis 22:10-14

Yesterday we began our look at Genesis 22. One thing I pointed out was the verse where Abraham explains to Isaac that God will provide the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). This is a radical concept. The problem with sacrificial systems where the sinner attempts to cleans himself of his sins through blood sacrifice of an animal is twofold. First it is never enough. You sin. You sacrifice an animal. You sin again. You sacrifice another animal. It goes on and on. Mosaic Law prescribes specific sacrifices for specific sins and even lists sacrifices for “unknown” or “unintentional” sins. You can sin against a Holy God and not even know you did it! Second, by offering sacrifice many people begin to feel that they have paid a price to be made right with God and as such have “earned” their way into God’s presence; they’ve earned Heaven. Such a belief puts you at odds with God, not in His good graces.

God wants a right relationship with you. What do I mean by “right relationship”? I mean that He wants a relationship where you admit He is God and you are not. He doesn’t desire this for His own good but rather for yours. We, the created, were made to be with Him and to worship Him our Creator. Elevating ourselves above God is a deadly mistake. Sin cannot be in God’s presence. The word Holy means “set apart”. You might ask “set apart from what”? Set apart from the common, the carnal, the selfish, and the profane; set apart from sin. Like matter and antimatter, the Holy and the Carnal cannot occupy the same place. To come into God’s presence we must be transformed from filthy, carnal creatures to cleansed, holy (set apart) creatures.

In the Garden of Eden we had just one rule; don’t eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We couldn’t even obey that one little rule. Adam and Eve could have eaten of the Tree of Life at any time and yet they chose not to. They liked the lie that Satan told, that they could be like God if they disobeyed. You see they started out holy; set apart. They pursued their own selfish desires and that made them carnal. They could no longer remain in God’s presence and so animals were slain, blood was spilt, to cover their nakedness; their sin.

Much later on men wanted a list of what they had to do to be made right with a Holy God. Moses wrote all of this down and Jewish tradition holds that the Mosaic Law holds 613 Mitzvot or commandments. I call them rules. From 1 to 613 rules. If we couldn’t obey one rule what makes us think we can obey 613. Still, man wants to earn his way into God’s presence. The point of the Mosaic Law is the hopelessness of trying to earn ones way into God’s presence. It can’t be done. This is the point of the story of Job. As good and righteous as he was, he wasn’t good enough. The Mosaic Law is a mirror that shows us just how filthy we truly are before a Holy God.

All of this points to our need for a Savior. If we can’t save ourselves, our only hope is in someone outside of ourselves. God wants us to be saved and He intended from the very beginning to provide the sacrifice since any sacrifice we made would be inadequate. That is the point of this episode in the life of Abraham.

Genesis 22:10-14 ESV

[10] Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. [11] But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” [12] He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” [13] And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. [14] So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

God doesn’t really want sacrifice from you. You may find that hard to believe. That is why I’ve provide three bits of Scripture below that give us a better idea of what God does want from us.

1 Samuel 15:22 ESV

And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

Psalm 51:16-17 ESV

[16] For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Hosea 6:6 ESV

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

God wants you to love Him. He wants you to know Him. If you wish to make a sacrifice to God, make it a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. Are you a parent? If you are, then you have some shadow of an idea of how God feels about you. You love your children. You want them to be happy and healthy. You want them to love you not because they have to but because they know you first loved them and have sacrificed for them. You don’t want them to sacrifice for you; you want to sacrifice for them. You want them to trust you for their own good and you want them to obey you for the same reason. Abraham has matured in His walk with God to the point that he wants what God wants. He knows that the key to his future happiness and wellbeing is to trust and obey. God will provide the sacrifice. You respond appropriately.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Judges 20–21
Chronological Order: Psalms 91, Joshua 1–3
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 14:1–16:8
New Testament Only: Luke 1:57–80
 

Daily Verse: James 2:22  James 2. 22

 

Bible Study

It’s About The Giver Not The Gift

Passage: Genesis 22

God sure did take an active role in growing Abraham spiritually. He takes an active role in our lives as well, although most of us are too self-absorbed to notice. This is one of the reasons God provided us with the story of Abraham. It is usually easier for us to see what is going on in someone else’s life than our own. To review, we’ve seen God call Abraham from Haran to go to the Promised Land. God would give Abraham direction and, when he went astray, God would call him back to the path. God only moved Abraham to the next level when He knew Abraham was ready. He never asked more of Abraham than he was able to do, even if Abraham himself didn’t know he was ready and able.

Today we begin the story for which Abraham is most well-known. I recommend you read all of the 21st chapter of Genesis before moving on to this commentary. I will be breaking down several passages from this chapter as I have done in the past. There is always jeopardy when we parse Scripture into smaller bites. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. So, first get the big picture and then join me for a zoom into the detail.

Genesis 22:1-2 ESV

[1] After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” [2] He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

What is the purpose of God testing someone? God tests us for the purpose of strengthening our faith. Some people think faith is just a catch-all phrase that people use when they have no evidence or proof for what they believe. You’ll hear people refer to a “leap of faith” as if one has no idea where they will land in the great undiscovered unknown. Ignorance is not faith.

Let me be clear. I don’t guess God exists. I don’t believe God exists. I don’t think God exists. I KNOW God exists. I know this as certainly as I know my mother and father exist. I know them. I have experience with them. My faith in them is based on the many years of experience I have with them sacrificing for my sake. Do I know my mom and dad? Can I depend upon them in my time of need? Yes I can; it has been proved time and time again. The same is true of my relationship with God. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and let me tell you brother I know His voice.

As I have strode down the path of my spiritual walk with Christ He has led me, and supported me, and reproved me, and taught me, and encouraged me, and seen me through every challenge I have ever faced. I don’t need to use words that hedge my meaning when I speak about God. I don’t guess, believe, or think God exists because I know He exists. You don’t know my parents but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You may not know God but that does not mean He does not exist. Your lack of evidence is not evidence.

Abraham, by this stage in his life, knows God. God has seen him through one challenge after another. God has made Abraham miraculous promises and has delivered on every one. In his old age Abraham received what he desired most, a son through his marital relationship with Sarah. He desired, and received, a son to inherit his wealth; a son that would make Abraham a father of a great multitude. Now that Abraham has such knowledge of God and faith in Him, it is time to grow that faith in a way that will grow the faith of others and paint an incredibly vibrant picture of the hope we all can have in God.

“Abraham. This thing you so desire – offer it up to Me.” This in essence is what God said to Abraham in the Scripture above. The rhetorical question being asked is this: “Abraham. Is this son you desired more important to you than Me?” This request may sound odd to modern ears but there was a man-made god at this time named Molech to whom people in this day offered their children, usually a first born son, as burnt sacrifices. God wasn’t asking something unheard of by Abraham. The testing of faith here came down to this; I have promised you that I will make you a father of a multitude through Isaac; do you believe me? Do you believe I will do what I said I would do? Is my gift greater to you than He who gave it?

I realize there are two separate questions here but they really are connected. If we believe God keeps His promises, then why would any worldly gift be more important to us than He who gave it? If God promises an earthly gift and asks us to sacrifice that gift, do we have enough faith in God to believe He will still deliver on His promise? Brother I mentioned that God does not ask more of us than we can handle. Abraham had grown spiritually to the point that He could ask this of Abraham. Through this process Abraham’s faith will be strengthened, but that is not the only goal of God’s request. So many others throughout history have needed, and will need, to learn about faith in God. So many need to hear the central message of this story. Believe it or not, Abraham already knows the central message and he says as much to Isaac.

As Abraham led him to the place of sacrifice, Isaac said “here is the fire and the wood, but where is the sacrifice?” Abraham’s response is extremely enlightening.

Genesis 22:8 ESV

Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

Did you get that? This is before Abraham reached out his hand to slay his son and God intervened to stop the proceedings and provide the sacrifice. By the time God had asked Abraham to make this sacrifice, Abraham’s knowledge of God, or as we say “faith in God”, was sufficient for him to know he could obey God without fear. He knew that God would provide the sacrifice. That is not to say that this wasn’t a terribly difficult thing to do. I can only imagine the stress Abraham must have felt, but his faith in God was stronger than his fear and doubt.

We’ll discuss in the next day or so the ulterior motive behind God’s request for this sacrifice. Today let us take away from our reading a better understanding of how God works in the lives of His children. If you have submitted your life to Christ, you are His child. He will see to your spiritual maturity. He will lead you, guide you, provide for you, and correct you. When He asks something of you, you will be ready – whether you think you are or not. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. Seek God first; the gifts will come. Make your life about the Giver, not the gift.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!