Another name for our Heroes of Faithing would be Heroes of Courage. Faithing, or acting in trust on God's word is 90% courage. I think that the hero of this story probably showed more courage than any of God's other favorite people. Abraham's courage can be a good example to us when we have to trust God.
God had always been close to a certain line of people, starting all the way back with Adam. This family line included many familiar names: Abel , Enoch, Methuselah, Noah and Shem. In one way you might say that this family line was a kind of priestly line that God kept in touch with. Abraham was part of this family line and learned the ways of God from Noah and his son Shem after the flood. Abraham learned that he could trust God's word.
The first way Abraham acted in trust of God was to leave his family and go to the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give Abraham and his descendants. First of all, Abraham had a nice home with his family and it must have been hard news that he had to leave them. What's worse, God didn't even tell him where he was to go. He just told him to pack up his wife and servants and go until God told him where to stop.
The second part of God's orders to Abraham was he was going to give that land to him and he would be the father of a great multitude of people. Now Abraham was already seventy five years old at the time. His wife Sarah was sixty six. That's what made the second part of God's promise so hard to believe. How could Abraham be the father of all those people if he and Sarah were both too old to have children?
God always keeps His word. A lot of times we start thinking that He doesn't, because we don't know when God will keep the promise. God's clock is different than ours. We mostly want everything to happen right now.
Well, after Abraham left home, on God's word, he did go to the land of Canaan and became very prosperous. He had many cattle and servants. But He still didn't have any son to inherit his riches. But God told him again that he would be the father of many nations. They would be like the stars of the heavens or the sand of the sea.
By this time Abraham was 86 and Sarah was 77. They didn't know it wasn't time for them to have a son by God's clock. Sarah told Abraham that they should try to do something on their own. Sarah told Abraham to take Hagar, a maidservant, and have a baby by her. See, they had also forgotten that the heir to Abraham was to come out of Sarah, not someone else; even if Abraham was the father.
The maidservant had a baby that they called Ishmael and Abraham was very pleased. He thought he'd done a good thing to have Ishmael. But God had other plans.
After thirteen years, God again spoke to Abraham and told him that He would give him a son by Sarah. And that this son would be the one from which many nations would come. Both Sarah and Abraham laughed in their hearts at the thought of them having a baby when they were ninety and one hundred years old. That's why God told them to name the boy Isaac. The name means laughter.
Of course, God did keep His promise and Isaac was born the next year. When Isaac was weaned from his mother, Abraham held a great feast and had all the kings of the land came to pay honor to Isaac. Abraham was very rich and highly respected in the land by this time.
In those olden times, people often referred to their children as young or child or boy or youth, well after what we do today. They were used to people living some 150 to 200 years. Well, out of all the books that I read, Isaac could have been anywhere from 13 to 37 years old when the next part of the story happened.
One story says that one day Ishmael was bragging to Isaac about having to be circumcised when he was thirteen. Isaac said, "that's not so much, if God told father that he was to kill me for an offering, I'd gladly go."
It could be that God heard what Isaac had said, and thought to test both Isaac and Abraham. He told Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
If you've ever had a pet dog or cat, try to imagine going out and killing it with a knife because some voice in your head told you to. And remember, the Isaac was the only son that Abraham had by Sarah. What a pickle for poor old Abraham. But by this time in his life, Abraham had seen that the Lord had kept his other promises. Remember that one of those promises was that through Isaac would come a multitude of people. It seems like a pretty slim thread to hold on to, but Abraham knew that God doesn't lie. I'm sure He reasoned that even if He killed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead because of the promise of many nations.
As it happened, Ishmael and one of Abraham's servants went with Abraham and Isaac. And we can tell what Abraham thought by what he said to the men when they got close to the spot where the sacrifice was to take place. My Bible says, "And Abraham said to his young men. 'Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come to you
again! " Notice Abraham didn't say he'd come back alone. He said we'll go and come back.
When Abraham got to the mountain and had set up the altar for the sacrifice, Isaac asked where was the animal they were to use. It was then that Abraham told Isaac for the first time that he was to be the burnt offering. One of my stories says that Isaac rejoiced at being chosen by God. But he told Abraham to bind him tightly so that he wouldn't move around under the knife and spoil the sacrifice. They were both so brave.
Perhaps you can guess but Isaac didn't die that day. Just as Abraham was about to swing the knife
down, God stopped him and said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine
only son from me. "
This wasn't just a silly test of Abraham's trust in God. When we remember that God gave His only Son too, we can see that God was helping us understand Jesus better through the example of Abraham and Isaac. It's sort of a hint of things to come.
One last thing of interest. One Hebrew account actually has Isaac die and come back to life. Abraham is confused, wonders what he did wrong, and starts to kill Isaac again. It's at this point that God steps in and tells him to stop.
It looks, from our story, like God wants more than just a little trust from us when we faithe. Even though things look very scary or even impossible, God wants to see that we trust Him all the way. Abraham trusted God enough to kill his only son. It's important to remember that we can't know all of what God has in mind for us. If we just believe, and ask His help and act on His word, he'll be there for us.
That's the story of Abraham. I hope it reminds you the next time you need to be strong and courageous.
Be sure to check out the Other Heroes of faithing listed in Hebrews, chapter eleven.
See if you can tell what each did that showed he trusted things that God had said.
I also invite you see how the whole book of
Hebrews talks about faithing.
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