This article is reproduced by permission.
©1994 by Dr. Jerry Kirchner



... by Dr. Jerry Kirchner

 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:1-2

By not waiting on God, and by taking things into their own hands, Abraham and Sarah brought heartache upon their own marriage and adversely affected the future course of history for their descendants.
God had promised them that they would have descendants "as the dust of the earth," "as the stars of the heaven," and "as the sand which is upon the sea shore."

 I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Genesis 13:16

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;
Genesis 22:17

When years passed and Abraham and Sarah could not see any evidence that God was working to perform His promise, they decided to take things into their own hands. There would be a child, an heir, - by their method. Sarah would give her maid, Hagar, to Abraham, and he would have a child by her - as was the custom of the day.
What a sad chapter in the life of these two great people of faith! When God says He will do something, we can bank on it. He never fails; His promises are sure; and He doesn't need our help to accomplish His work.
Abraham was a man of faith, the very father of faith, and if a story of his failure in this regard is included in the Bible, it must have an important purpose. This story should be a warning to each of us not to fall into the kind of thinking that caused Abraham and Sarah to move outside the will of God for their lives.
For most of his life, Abraham served as a model of great faith and trust in God. Nowhere is this more dramatically revealed than when God called upon him to sacrifice his own son, Isaac.

 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. Genesis 22:2

What a test of faith! This was the most serious test of faith that any of us could have devised for the old patriarch, for he had waited almost a hundred years for his "child of promise." Was it too much for God to ask that he now give back the one thing in the world that was most precious to him?
The amazing thing about this story is that, in reading the scriptural account, we cannot notice even a hint of rebelliousness on the part of Abraham. He did not question God on the matter, and he did not hesitate, as most of us would have done, looking for a way to avoid obeying.
We can only imagine what a struggle Abraham must have gone through in his own soul as he carried out God's instructions. We can only imagine the thoughts that must have run through his mind as he took his journey and got ever closer to Moriah, the place of execution. Such a battle of soul and mind would have torn many of us apart.
Do we imagine that the devil, out of respect for Abraham, would have left him alone? Not for a moment! There can be no doubt that Satan badgered Abraham every step of the way.

 What kind of God would do such a despicable
What kind of God would take back the very thing
He promised so long ago ?
What kind of God would take the thing you love
most and leave you with no heir and no future?
If God is going to turn His back on you, you
should turn your back on Him.

How do we know the devil said such things? Because he never misses an opportunity to try God's children and to accuse God before them and them before God. He is "the accuser of the brethren."

 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven. Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for THE ACCUSER OF OUR BRETHREN is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10

Lucifer had shown from the beginning his quickness to criticize God:

 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman. Yea, hath God said. Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ? And the woman said unto the serpent. We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden. God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman. Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:1-5

And Satan has never changed. This is still his tactic today.
But Abraham was not fooled. He pressed on toward obedience on Mt. Moriah and, thus, earned forever the title "Father of Faith."

 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might he the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. Romans 4:11-12

In the case of the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham's faith was proven when he declared to those who accompanied him that he and the child would go to the mountain to worship and would return.

 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. Genesis 22:5

Abraham knew that he was about to sacrifice His son (at God's command). Yet he knew that God is good and that everything God declares is for a purpose and for our ultimate benefit, never for our detriment. His faith, thus, led him to believe that, in the end, Isaac would live. If God takes Isaac's life, he reasoned in his heart. He can easily restore it. No human in the Bible faced a greater trial, and no human in the Bible showed more faith and courage.
It was only at the final moment, when Abraham had his hand raised, ready to plunge the dagger into his son, that God showed forth His great love and compassion, and in doing so revealed His plan of salvation for men of all ages.

 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. Genesis 22:10-13

God spared Isaac when He saw that Abraham was willing to give back even his most precious possession, that Abraham's love for God and his obedience to God were the motivating factors in his life, nothing else.
Abraham's submission to the will of God in this regard foreshadowed the time when the Father would offer up His only Son on Mt. Calvary. In this case, He did not stay the hand of the executioner, but gave all because He loved all.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

When we consider the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, our own problems in life, whatever they might be, fade in comparison. It is never a sacrifice to serve Him. It is a privilege to be chosen as His ambassadors. To think that He places such responsibility in the hands of imperfect men and women, such as you and I, is an awesome thought. We, who are God's people, have been chosen "for such a time as this." How can we do less than love Him and serve Him?
When Isaac questioned his father, "Where is the lamb?" (Verse 7), Abraham answered prophetically, "God will provide himself a lamb." He was speaking by the inspiration of the Spirit of God and indicating that God would one day send His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for sins, the Lamb whose death would result in redemption for all mankind.
God knows what He is doing. His way is best. Trust Him and you will have victory in your own personal life and will become a blessing to all those around you.

 * Used by permission from the book "Learn God's Word Receive His Rewards - by Dr. Jerry Kirchner. For information on how to obtain this excellent book or others by this author please see: Focus on Asia



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