Tuesday, October 03, 2006

abraham: father of faith, friend of God

Abraham's faith is acknowledged three times in Hebrews 11.

In verses 8-10, the Hebrew writer speaks of faith of Abraham in obeying God's call; in verses 11-12, the writer reminds us that the fulfilling "mechanism" of God's promises was Abraham's faith that He who made the promise was faithful; and, most amazing of all demonstrations of faith in this patriarch is recorded in verses 17-19, in which Abraham offered his son as God commanded with faith that he would receive his beloved son Isaac back from the dead.

Resurrection was unheard of in Abraham's time. We have no account of any such thing until the time of Kings in Israel. Yet, this man believed God would do the impossible - the unthinkable - to fulfill the promise He made to his servant.

Now, that is faith.

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

I cannot imagine what must have gone through Abraham's mind when God commanded him to sacrifice his hope and dream - a culmination of everything he believed in God now to be relinquished in utter contradiction to logic and common sense.

But he obeyed.

And through his obedience, countless are blessed who call on God who is faithful.

More than anything else, Abraham's faith was real: it was never conceptual or ideal. It was real-ized.

His obedience was immediate. He went early next morning. Not after a week of fighting against doubt and confusion, asking his wife or friends about whether he'd heard God right.

Genesis 22:4 tells us that Moriah (where Abraham was to sacrifice his son) was a three-day journey from where he was. Three days is a long time to reconsider the sanity or insanity of his actions.

Abraham does not hesitate to obey God. His knife is on a downward plunge when the angel of the Lord stops him. And he receives as a result the greatest blessing a man could ever possess - to be "source" of blessing to other - a type and shadow of Christ's own ministry.

Interestingly, Moriah where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son is the same spot where King David built an altar and sacrificed in repentance (after having taken a census of his fighting men in Israel against God's command) when the angel of the Lord stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite after killing 70,000 Israelites.

And the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite is the exact place where David's son King Solomon built the Temple for God in 2 Chronicles 3:1.

And hundreds of years later, on that same spot, another Father offered his own Son as an atoning sacrifice for all humanity - in a place then called Golgotha.

A pastor once shared a story about a new member of his church who approached him after service upset after the service.

"Pastor," the man began his face grim, "I am very offended at this story you shared with us today about Abraham's sacrifice. How could a loving God demand such cruel sacrifice? What kind of God demands such a thing of any father?"

The pastor replied, "My brother, I am glad you are offended. Because that is what God did for us. No one stayed God's hand from allowing his own Son to be crucified. You should be offended."

It is small wonder God called Abraham His friend.

Are you a friend of God?

Can God "confide" in you as He did with Abraham in regard to Sodom and Gomorrah? Have you come to such a place as to know the very heartbeat of the Father that you would take no offense no matter what He demands of you?

--from Sunday October 1, 2006 10:00am Worship Service

No comments: