I have talked a lot about Abraham and Isaac over the years, and today I want to continue on from my post from last week, and talk about sacrifice.
Gods tests Abraham. He calls to Abraham, to tell him to take his only son (his promised son), whom he loved very much, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
But Abraham is obedient. He believes God will provide, even though God never actually promised that He would. He tells Isaac that God, himself, will provide the lamb.
At the last second, an angel of the Lord calls out to Abraham from heaven, and tells him not to lay a hand on the boy. And there was the ram in the thicket. Not a lamb, a young sheep, innocent and pure. But a ram.
And Abraham named this place “The Lord Will Provide”. And then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham letting him know that God has said Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you.
It is not sacrifice until it is out of your hands.
What is the one thing that you wouldn’t want to put on the altar? Your family? Your house? Your job? The thing that you love the most…. name it. I could list a few too, and one of them I had to lay down this week. At first I didn’t really sacrifice anything at all. I said I would, but I really didn’t.
It is easy to say that you will gladly sacrifice something, but can I tell you what I learned? It is not sacrifice until it is out of your hands and on the altar. It is not sacrifice if you are holding on to what God wants you to put down. And if it is not hard, it is not sacrifice. Scripture even tells us to not to sacrifice anything that costs us nothing.
When I laid down my sacrifice, there was no promise that I would pick it up again. There was no ram to be seen in the thicket. There was no angel of the Lord coming to me saying Just kidding! This was a test! You can pick up your sacrifice, and go home now.
Sacrifice is a test of our faith.
There are times when things won’t turn out like it did for Abraham and Isaac. Abraham knew that God would provide the burnt offering, but just as surely as he knew God would provide, sometimes we know that what we lay down on the altar, we most likely won’t be picking up again. Sometimes the sacrifice isn’t spared. Sometimes ram isn’t going to be in the thicket. And sometimes you walk down the hill named “The Lord Will Provide”, as your sacrifice is still on the altar.
And if that happens, Beautiful One, that is when you need to look to the cross. This time the sacrifice wasn’t spared either. He took the burdens that we carry, our sin, our shame, our flaws, and imperfections, and this is what nailed Him to the cross. And this wasn’t easy for Jesus either. Shortly before the cross, He took some time to pray, and while He prayed in anguish, His sweat was like drops of blood.
Nevertheless, Your will be done.
Have you ever prayed so hard that you sweated blood? Yeah me either, but that shows the depth of His love for us. A love that would willingly choose the cross. A sacrifice that would bring us eternal life.
Jesus said that if there was any way that the cup be taken from Him, but nevertheless His will be done. Jesus chose love. Agape love, a love that would lay down His life for others.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t look for my ram. The substitute for my sacrifice. A way out. But for me, my sacrifice didn’t have as much to do with the sacrifice itself really. It was a test, and it was a test of a commitment I made to a friend. And my husband called me out on it. He said to me, that if I really believed what I say, then I needed to fully live it out.
God will test us in different ways. He will test our faith in Him, He will test our commitment to others, and He does it to expose the extent of our trust in Him.
Sometimes our sacrifice can be pretty painful, and there are times you just want to cry, because it is hard. It is okay to cry, and it is okay to cry a lot. It is okay that it is hard, because God never promises it will be easy.
If you believe what you say you need to fully live it out.
Beyond the tears there is joy, because Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. There was resurrection. Even if there is no ram in thicket, there is still an empty grave. When the ram isn’t in the thicket, He is still on the throne. He promises to work for the good of all who love Him.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the perfecter of our faith. We don’t have to understand everything, we just have to believe, be obedient, and let Him be God. Because He is.