Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
– Genesis 22:1-3
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
– John 3:16-18
Putting these two passages next to each other shows a parallel. God told Abraham to take his only son and sacrifice him. Of course, there was the last-minute ram in the bushes, but Abraham was willing to do as God had directed. He trusted that God would still make a great nation from his descendants, although Isaac was the one from which God had promised the descendants. Abraham had no idea how God would accomplish His promise. He simply trusted Him. It is a good lesson in that alone. Abraham had to be going through tremendous turmoil. How long was Abraham’s ordeal? Genesis 22:4 states “On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.”
Now, fast forward to a hill called “Golgotha.” Jesus, God’s one and only Son, is being sacrificed for the sins of many. Yet, there is no ram in the bushes. God will have to pull off a miracle of epic proportions. Jesus rises from the dead, as predicted, on the third day.
Jesus said that we should take up our cross and follow Him. Let’s move from Genesis 22 to Luke 22. Peter is talking in verse 33. But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Is that what God wants? Obviously not in Peter’s case. Jesus responds that Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows. Yet, by the end of the book of John, Jesus tells Peter that he will eventually go along that same path, being led where he doesn’t want to go.
Instead of volunteering for death, Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, says that the response should be, “I am willing to be identified with your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.”
We are to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). If need be, we may be asked to die for our Lord, but He wants us alive to spread the word that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Jesus Christ loves us.
Oswald Chambers goes on to talk about giving up things, but God doesn’t want us to give up things for no reason, but to receive something greater, life with God.
Back in the late 60s, the Dean Martin Variety Show used comedy acts as a summer fill-in show. One act was a juggling act. It might have been an early Penn and Teller act, because one guy never said anything. The talker had his juggling friend juggle 3 apples, then four, then five. I think he got up to six, but I’m not sure. Hey, this is a memory from roughly fifty years ago! Then the talker says, “Now, an orange!” He tosses the juggler the orange, just as he had tossed him each additional apple. At that moment, the juggler drops all of the apples and tosses the orange from one hand to the other. The unspoken joke is that you should never mix apples and oranges. Even if you only got the physical joke of dropping everything to juggle a single orange, you laughed at the image. Of course, the comedian never explains his joke.
Yet, we can learn by this joke. We can juggle a lot of things of this world, but God is asking us to drop all of that and accept Him instead. We’ll get Joy that has no end compared to a single laugh at a juggler who fools the audience by switching from apples to an orange.
Oswald Chambers goes on to say:
“…It is a matter of loosening the bands that hold back our lives. Those bands are loosened immediately by identification with the death of Jesus. Then we enter into a relationship with God whereby we may sacrifice our lives to Him. It is no value to God to give your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice” – to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God.”
God didn’t want Isaac to be sacrificed. He wanted Isaac to live and produce the nation that God had promised Abraham.
What are the bands that are holding back your life?
God wants us to Live, with a Capital “L.” Let go of the apples in your life and grab onto that golden orange of God. Trust in Jesus as if your life depends on it. For to get Life, with a capital “L”, it does depend on our trust in Jesus.