Loving God Wholeheartedly
Recently, I was reading through Genesis and came to the story of Abraham and Isaac. You might know the story. Abraham had been promised progeny with his wife Sarah (Genesis 12:1-3). But they were so old! It would take no less than a miracle of God for them to produce a child. But Abraham had become impatient with God's promise to him and Sarah allowed him to have her maid Hagar (Genesis 16:15-16). Perhaps, Abraham thought, it would be through Hagar that the promises of God would find their fulfilment. God had other plans. Finally, at the age of 100 years and 90 years for Abraham and Sarah respectively, Isaac was born (Genesis 17:1-18:15, Genesis 21:1-3). A child of their own.
How would you feel if finally God provides you with your deepest desires? Perhaps a relationship, a job that you've always wanted, perhaps something else. I imagine that Abraham was thrilled with his son Isaac. Until Abraham heard from the LORD who asked him to sacrifice Isaac.
“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”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 on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”” Genesis 22:1–2
The climb up the mountain for Abraham would have been difficult. The LORD, however, requires obedience. He doesn’t require that we understand his ways. As they climb the mountain Isaac asked, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” and to which Abraham responded “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:7-8).
There comes a time in our lives when the LORD asks that we put our deepest desires and our dreams on the altar. The question that He asked of Abraham and which he asks of us is “Do you love me more than anything in the world?” Abraham put Isaac on the altar ready to be sacrificed. It was only when Abraham took the knife that the angel of the LORD called out to Abraham. The angel said, “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.” The LORD could see that Abraham would not allow his son to get in the way of being obedient to the LORD. Some of us may retort, "Does that mean that God loves a child sacrifice?" That misses the crucial point. The crux of the matter is, “Are we going to put our love for God ahead of anything else?”
When Abraham was willing to give up Isaac because he feared the LORD above all else, he experienced God’s provision. The LORD eventually provided a sacrifice in substitution for Isaac. A ram that was caught in the thicket by its horns. Abraham would then declare the name of the place as “The LORD will provide.”
We sometimes feel that the LORD is withholding good things from us when he asks us to put him first. What right does he have over us? Well for starters, he created us. He has first rights over us. But secondly, he has redeemed us from sin. The LORD provided the greatest thing for us and that is his son Jesus Christ. His Son, the sacrificial lamb, paid the penalty that we might be redeemed from sin. And if the LORD did not even spare up his own son for you and me how can we say that the LORD is being stingy with us? How can we not devote our whole entire lives loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Brothers and sisters, may we be reminded of his great love for us when we are tempted to think that our God is withholding good from us. May we be reminded of his provision when we are challenged to give up something that we are perhaps holding onto too tightly. May we be reminded that if he has given us His son, there is no sacrifice too big or too small worthy of him.