This Sunday, Pastor Erik spoke to us about how God has provided for us a sacrifice, a payment for our sin. He told us the story of Abraham and Isaac and how God told Abraham to take Isaac, his only son, the son that he had been promised would father nations, and sacrifice him to God.
Of course, God didn’t really want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He wanted to test Abraham, to see if he would hold anything back from God. When He stopped Abraham, He said, “Now, I know that you love me because you didn’t hold back your only son from me.” This is where I’d like to focus.
Pastor Erik took this part of the story to bring up a very interesting point. This is not a story written down for us as a benchmark by which to judge our own lives. Paul said that he wasn’t qualified to judge himself and neither are we. We were not given this story as a way of saying, “You’d better be as devoted to me as Abraham was.” Even Abraham didn’t do this great deed on his own.
As he and Isaac walked up the mountain together, Isaac asked Abraham about what they would use for a sacrifice. Then and there, Abraham made it clear that he wasn’t making this journey on his own strength, his own desire for moral excellence. He told his son, the supposed sacrifice, “God will provide.” The only way Abraham made it up that mountain, the only thing that convinced him to take that trip, was his faith in God. That kind of faith isn’t found naturally within us. It comes from a prolonged and active relationship between us and God. Abraham knew God relationally and as a part of that relationship God was with him, providing him with the faith and resolve need to obey.
We ought to love God and hold nothing back from Him, but again, that love isn’t found naturally within us. And yet, once again, God is there to provide that love. When He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, He provided a ram to serve in the boy’s place. When our bill came due to pay for our sin, Jesus was sent to serve as our sacrifice. God said to Abraham, “Now, I know you love me because you didn’t hold back your only son from me.” We can say the same to God, “We know that You love us because You didn’t hold back Your only Son but gave Him to save us.”
Let us remember that God knows our weaknesses, knows our inability to make those sacrifices on our own, and has sent His Son to do what we cannot. It’s an old verse that we all know, but it’s power is in its simplicity:
Because God loved the world so much He sent His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.