From: “What does God require of you?” To: “What will God sacrifice for you?”

sacrifice of Isaac

In ancient times, when floods destroyed homes or fields, when fires consumed homes or fields, or when drought or pestilence or disease ruined people’s lives, it was easy to conclude that the gods were against you for some reason.  Sadly, it became easy for ancient people to jump to the next conclusion as well: that these gods would only ease up on you if you made a costly personal sacrifice to them—like the sacrifice of your own child!

Apparently the “father” of our faith, Abraham, struggled with this question, for one day he heard God say to him, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

At that, Abraham must have wondered, Is the God who called me as heartless and demanding as the gods of the people around me who practice child sacrifices?  Did God bless me with a child in my old age only to demand him back from me?

Abraham’s story is well known.  In response to God’s instructions, Abraham and two servants take wood for the sacrificial fire and Isaac (his son, his only son, whom he loves), and they go to the region of Moriah.  Abraham then says to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.  We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  On the mountain, where Abraham is prepared and ready to sacrifice Isaac (his son, his only son, whom he loves), God stops him from hurting his son.  Instead, God provides a ram, caught by its horns in the thicket.

As it turned out, God did not demand a sacrifice from Abraham but actually provided a sacrifice for Abraham.  So Abraham called that mountain, “The Lord Will Provide.”  And Genesis 22:14 points out, “to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Around 2000 years later, on the same mountain about which it was said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided,” God provided another sacrifice.  Jesus (God’s Son, His only Son, whom He loved) gave His life for us.

Abraham ascended that mountain, thinking that he might have to give the ultimate sacrifice: his son.  But centuries later God made it clear that He had turned the question around.  The question is no longer: What deep, personal sacrifice does God require from me?  The question we must come to grips with is this: What deep, personal sacrifice has God made for us?

That sacrifice—God’s sacrifice for us rather than our sacrifice for God—turns everything around!

Brennan Manning states, “The same love yesterday on Calvary, today in our hearts, and forever in heaven.  Jesus crucified is not merely a heroic example to the church.  He is the power and wisdom of God, his love capable of transforming our cowardly, distrustful hearts into hearts strong in the trust that they are loved.  We do not have to do anything except let our unworthy, ungrateful selves be loved as we are.  Trust happens!  You will trust him to the degree that you know you are loved by him.”   (Ruthless Trust, p. 178)

One who was willing to sacrifice Himself for you rather than demanding sacrifice from you has already provided evidence of how fully He loves you.  Alexander Whyte summarizes, “The love of Christ has no border; it has no shore; it has no bottom.  The love of Christ is boundless; it is bottomless; it is infinite; it is divine…. We shall come to the shore; we shall strike the bottom of every other love; but never of the love of Christ!… You will never come to the length of it, or to the breadth of it, or to the depths of it, or to the height of it.  To all of eternity, the love of Christ to you will be new.” (quoted by Leighton Ford in The Attentive Life, p. 158.)

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