A Terrible TestFr. Barnabas Powell
It was just asking too much! As I sat there, trying to decide if I should fulfill this request or not, I had to weigh so many other things. This choice was going to change my life forever. But it wasn’t going to just change my life. No, this choice was going to change the lives of my friends and family too. And not even just them. This choice was going to change the lives of people I had not even met yet! Yeah, you’re right. It was a big deal!
In the end, I chose to say “yes” to being ordained, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Well, my choice to accept ordination is nothing compared to the choice laid before Abraham today!
Look at our Lesson in Genesis 22:1-18:
After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 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 upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father! “And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
You know the story well, God has given Abraham and Sarah a son, their only child, in their old age. Sarah had been baen and had passed the time to give birth and Abraham was already 100 years old. Then God grants them a miracle and Sarah gives birth to the son promised by God. Isaac is the promised heir that will become the Patriarch of the Nation and fulfill God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great blessing to the whole earth!
This is an important young man! All around Abraham are the religions of the pagans with their human sacrifices and their eternal attempts to get their gods to give them something in return for their devotion. Or attempts by the pagans to appease their angry gods. But Abraham experiences the Almighty God as different from all these false gods. And then God comes to Abraham with a command that is so out of character for God that Abraham has to wonder! God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Does Abraham argue? No. Does Abraham try to negotiate? No. Does Abraham refuse to obey this unimaginable command? No. Abraham obeys!
Abraham’s response reveals his faith and his intimate relationship with God. Isaac asks “where is the lamb?” Abraham tells his only son “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” And God does just that. As Abraham binds his son and lays his son on the altar of sacrifice, Abraham raises the knife to kill his son and the Angel cries out “STOP!” And there, just a bit away is a ram caught in a thicket! God, Himself, provided the Lamb!
Do you see?
As we live our lives, we will be confronted by our faith with choices to be faithful or to compromise our faith to get along. In those moments, we have the wonderful example of Abraham, the father of the faithful, to help us choose the hard path over the easy one; the difficult obedience over the ease of a disconnected life. And we also have the supreme act of love that our Father provides for us in sending His one and only Son to destroy death by death on our behalf. There was no Angel to cry out “STOP” as the Father sends our Lord Jesus to the terrible sacrifice on the Cross. There was no other sacrifice to take the Son’s place there on the Cross. No, my precious and dearest loved one, God, Himself provided the Lamb for you and me!
Today, as we approach that place where we will see Him Who knew no sin take on our enemy death, are you ready to embrace such love from your Creator? Are you willing to be Orthodox on Purpose?
P.S. Doesn’t everyone around you deserve to know of this kind of Love that God has for us all? Wouldn’t knowing and experiencing this kind of Love change the whole world? You can help share this faith with others by helping us complete the “A Journey to Fullness” video outreach project. Just go to www.JourneytoFullness.com and become a partner with us! Have a great weekend!