A Study of the Church: The People of God in Context – Day 28

Faithful obedience … the church – day 28 (the church=people of God / followers of Jesus)

Genesis 22:1-14 –

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 2He 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 that I shall show you.’ 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ 6Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ 8Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.

9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ 13And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’

The context of this Abrahamic narrative is multifaceted:

Abraham was called by God to be a leader among the ancient Israelite people;
Abraham was commanded to go and leave his family of origin and move to a far away country;
Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless;
Abraham was blessed with a son by Sarah’s womanservant Hagar;
Abraham was blessed with a son by Sarah;
Abraham was commanded by God to go and send his son Ismael away forever;
Abraham was commanded by God to go and sacrifice his second born son Isaac to God.

Abraham is commended by God “to go” time and again, he obeys each and every time. With each account of his obeying God’s command, we wonder “how does he do that?” How does he leave all his family and go to a far away country? How does he send his son away to die? How now can he murder his only remaining son and offer him as a burnt offering to God? How can he do what God commands?

The hearer/reader of Genesis 22 has a hint at the outcome of the narrative when in v. 1 it is written “After these things, God tested Abraham.” It is as though the scribe knew that the hearer/reader of the text would find it possible that Abraham would go through with God’s command if the hearer/reader didn’t know from the beginning of the narrative that it was a test and would not end in Isaac’s death.

Where are we – the people of God – the followers of Jesus Christ – the church – in all this? With whom do we identify? We must place ourselves in Abraham’s sandals … we must consider our own faithfulness to God’s commands on our own lives. Could we? Would we follow wherever God leads us without hesitation? That is the question. Does thinking that it is only a test help us to blindly follow?

Here’s the thing – when God places a call on your life, God does not let go of you. God will continue to come back around again and again until you plainly hear God’s call to you. And, then you will blindly follow wherever God leads you knowing that God has you in the palm of God’s hand and that God will never let you go, never drop you, never let you falter – even to the ends of the earth – even to the point of testing you as God does Abraham.

We can place all our trust in God, just as Abraham does, because our God is sovereign and true, steadfast and faithful, righteous and just. Our God blessed us with God’s only son, Jesus Christ, who became our Lord and Savior. Trust in God in all things and it will be good.

Amen.

Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins