People may not believe this but God still requires much of us, just as He did of his chosen people from the beginning. He put The Law in effect for their good, yet because most refused to comprehend and adhere to His guidance in their lives, they suffered. The few who were completely obedient to God, to the Lord’s will, were asked to do things we couldn’t fathom. However, from experience, I know it’s being done: God is still requiring much from those whom much is given (Luke 12:48). (His love, blessings, healing, wisdom…NOT superficial things.)
For the past couple of weeks a theme of sorts has been playing itself over and over, like a vinyl record, in my mind: human sacrifice. I knew this was not a thought I would have. I sought the Lord, asking why I kept hearing this phrase. I had an inkling of what it might be, and low and behold I was right. Dumbfounded, but right. (There’s where the gift of wisdom shows up.) It was slowly revealed what was going on, while at the same time He ministered to my spirit. I guess the enemy didn’t want me to gain true understanding or clarity because I felt a spiritual attack ensue as the Lord was trying to move me through this, with revelation after revelation. I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, yet constantly pled for His peace and mercy upon me. But until HE thought I was ready to understand, much was kept from me.
I’ll get to that later…instead, to begin, I’m going to take you back to the father of all Jewish people: Abraham. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were childless yet they wanted nothing more. Finally, in their old age, God told Sarah she would have a son…she laughed at this for she was nearly 90 and Abraham 99. But, to teach her (and us) never to laugh in the face of God, within a year she gave birth. They were both overjoyed and named this son Isaac (which means laughter). Isaac became the apple of Abraham’s eye, a true gift. Perhaps Abraham idolized him a bit. However, God was not finished with this story yet! Mind you Abraham was the most godly man of his time and God desired him greatly. What God asked of Abraham, and how he responded, is one of the most incredible displays of obedience to God, we may ever hear of:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, 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. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and 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 upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he 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.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:1-18)
As incomprehensible as this seems, notice that Abraham did not for a second outwardly question what he was asked to do; he merely obeyed. He was fully prepared to sacrifice the life of what brought him the most joy in this world: his son Isaac. It was this amazing act of obedience and dedication to God, that led to the birth of all nations. As much as I love and admire my Lord, Jesus, I recognize that even he asked that the cup be taken from him if were God’s will, before he was to die on the cross:
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:41-43)
This example goes to show just how difficult it is for a human to sacrifice all for our Father (for Jesus was both fully Divine and fully human). Our obedience is still very much required of him in order to stay in true favor. I look at how Isaac must have trusted Abraham, to be led to a mountaintop and be tied to a rock, while only asking where the sacrificial lamb was. That is how Abraham trusted God, with childlike ability. He did as told, even if it meant sacrificing his own child in order to put God first.
I think of people like Pastor Francis Chan (and wife Lisa) who heard the voice of the Lord calling him forth to do things people didn’t understand – giving up a huge church and Bible college which he founded, selling everything and taking his entire family to Asia to minister where ever they were led. Then upon arriving back in the United States, asked the Lord where they were to go and was led to street ministry in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.
It’s knowing there are Christians who live in countries where their beliefs are not welcome, risking their lives or are murdered, simply by proclaiming Christ. Until recently, we haven’t heard much about this type of Christian and it’s unfortunate, albeit correct. Why? Because it’s not about us but what God requires and about His Kingdom. It is a personal sacrifice God requests we make, like that of Abraham, which affect us, and others, the most.
In Part 2 you’ll hear what God recently required of me that resembled a personal sacrifice to him.