If you want to read some incredible stories about people doing some pretty awesome (and crazy) things, you need only to open up your Bible. And even in the first book (Genesis), there are some real crazy ones. I read one of those this morning. You may recall that in my previous post (“Believe”) I referred to the story of Abraham, highlighting where God promised him an heir and basically millions of descendants when he was already a very old man with an old, barren wife. Of course, Abraham believed and Sarah, his wife, laughed. But not surprisingly, God came through on his promise in His time and gave them a son, Isaac. Awesome ending to an awesome story, right? God did a miracle and gave Abraham a son, through whom God is going to bless him with a ton of offspring. Sort of a story-book ending…almost. Then out of nowhere God tells Abraham to take his son, Isaac, up to a mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering to the Lord (chapter 22). You’ve got to be kidding me, right!? After all that promising and trusting and hoping and laughing, now God wants to change His mind? Any loving parent in their right mind would have ignored this ridiculous request and ran as far away from God as possible, right? But Abraham’s response is anything but resistance. The very next verse after God’s gut-wrenching command simply says that “Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac” (22:3). Then he cut some wood for the fire on which he was going to burn his son and went off on the three-day journey to the mountain where God told him to go. He simply obeyed God’s command.
Now, if you’ve read the story, you know that Abraham ties up his son, puts him on the altar where he is to be sacrificed, and even draws his knife to kill his son before he is interrupted and stopped by an angel of the Lord. God tells him to stop and provides a ram stuck in a thicket to sacrifice instead. God’s speaks a powerful (and relieving) statement to Abraham saying, “…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” (22:12). What a profound statement. God tested Abraham by asking him to kill his own son. And Abraham was seconds away from following through! If anyone has children, this story likely disturbs you. Personally, I have a son whom I love dearly and if God asked me to take him up on a hill and kill him, well…honestly, I would probably put my fingers in my ears and respond with loud nonsensical noises to drown out the sound of his voice. But the point of the story is not that you have to be willing to literally kill your kids to prove that you trust God. God gave up His only son to be murdered on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven once and for all. Jesus was the ultimate burnt offering, satisfying the requirements to bridge the gap between sinful people and a holy God. You see, God did actually give up his only son for our sake. He experienced the pain and suffering of that loss. He watched as his son was mistreated, beaten, and ultimately killed in an unimaginably gruesome manner. All the while, He had the power to stop it and rescue His beloved son from this fate. But He didn’t. Can you imagine watching your child suffer, having the ability to end the suffering, but not doing it. I can’t. But God did. He was motivated by a love and passion so strong, so steadfast, so unstoppable that He withheld His might and power, pushed back his legions of angels and watched His son die. What was the object of this tremendous love and passion? Me. You. My wife. My son. My parents and friends. Your children. Your family. Anyone who might believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Father loves His people with a crazy kind of love…love that surpasses simple human understanding. Jesus rose from the grave with new, eternal life so that we could share in that new life and have a redeemed relationship with the Father through Jesus.
What is required of us to share in this incredible relationship and receive eternal life? Trust. Placing our hopes, our dreams, our families, our finances, our entire lives in His hands. Arising early in the morning and preparing to obey the Lord. Going, doing, trusting. Believing God is who He says He is and trusting that Jesus, His son, is the only way to an eternal relationship with the Father is what is required of us. Trusting God seems crazy sometimes. But in reality, you would have to be crazy not to.