At camp there was a team builder course that you would do with all of the people in your cabin. We would have to lift each other over high walls, repel down towers, carry one another through rope webs, among other things. One activity in particular was the trust fall.
One person would stand on a tall stump or picnic table, facing the opposite direction, while the others lined up behind her in two rows facing each other with their arms out. The one on the table would fall backwards, trusting that the group would catch her before she fell on the ground.
You couldn’t see where you were falling and had to pray that you weren’t too heavy for everyone to catch you (maybe that was just me!). Typically you were falling into the arms of people you had just met a couple of days prior too! I don’t remember ever missing anyone when the fell back, we were always safe in each other’s arms. But it was unnerving standing on that picnic table, waiting, hoping, praying.
It was a challenging exercise, but now I do that with my husband all the time. I yell, “TRUST FALL!” and he has to catch me. He always does. I have complete faith in him. He has proven himself many times, even though I don’t think he appreciates the spontaneity of it, haha!
As we see in this next section of scripture, God calls out “TRUST FALL!” and Abraham responds immediately. He climbs up on the picnic table, turns around, and falls into God’s arms, knowing that God will always catch him.
S – Scripture: Genesis 22-24
- 22:1-3 – “Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. ‘Abraham!’ God called. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Here I am.’ ‘Take your son, your only son–yes, Isaac, whom you love so much–and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.’ The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.”
- 22:7-8 – “Isaac turned to Abraham and said, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘We have the fire and the wood,’ the boy said, ‘but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’ ‘God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,’ Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
- 22:9-12 – “When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Yes,’ Abraham replied. ‘Here I am!’ ‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.’
- 22:14 – “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means ‘the LORD will provide’). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.'”
- 22:18 – “And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed–all because you have obeyed me.”
- 23:11-16 – “‘No, my lord,’ he said to Abraham, ‘please listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.’ Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land, and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. ‘No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.’ Ephron answered Abraham, ‘My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.’ So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and paid the amount he had suggested–400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.”
- 24:1 – “Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.”
- 24:7 – Abraham states: “For the LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants. He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son.”
- 24:27 – Says Abraham’s servant: ‘Praise the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham,’ he said. ‘The LORD has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.’
O – Observation:
- What I learned about Abraham: he was expectant for God’s voice. Abe listened and did all that God commanded without question or emotional drawback. He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to him in obedience to God. He trusted God fully in fulfilling his promise. He feared the Lord above all else (above what Sarah might do to him when she found out he just killed their son; beyond the loss of God’s promise of many descendants through Isaac). God blessed him because of his obedience. He was a man of integrity.
- Abraham got all the way to the point where he would bring the knife down on his son before the Lord stopped him.
- Sacrificing Isaac meant the end of the line for Abraham’s family (except Ishmael) and God’s promise being unfulfilled.
- Abraham’s obedience here was the final test before God fulfilled his promise.
- The Lord’s angels went ahead of Abraham’s servant to find a wife for Isaac and led him straight to her.
A – Application:
Abraham listened for God expectantly and obeyed.
I’m reminded of Adam and Eve in the Garden right after they had eaten the Forbidden Fruit. God was walking in the Garden looking for them and calling out to them. What did they do? When they heard him coming they hid because they were ashamed. Next, due to their disobedience, the Lord sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness, shame, and sin. He then banished them from the Garden and cursed them.
Abraham heard God and didn’t hide or ignore him. He got up the next morning and did all that God commanded of him.
Sin clouds our sensitivity to see, hear, and feel God. It’s like when your foot falls asleep after sitting on it, or getting water in your ears, or an astigmatism in your eye. When I am willingly or even unintentionally sinning, I lose my awareness of what God has for me. My focus is so stuck on filling that earthly need and defying God, that I fall into the disillusion that God isn’t enough. Maybe it started with questioning his timing, goodness, or power and led me into thinking that I could control those things instead.
I hate when I do that. I understand the shame that Adam and Eve experienced and sometimes want to hide from God. Often, I hand-craft my own bandage to put over the blackness in my heart caused by the sin instead of allowing God to forgive me and then work on me to heal that area of my life. As I do this, I seclude myself farther and farther away from God.
Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he seemed to always have an expectant ear for when God called on him. God blessed him for that. I want that too.
What sin is blocking your sensitivity to hear God’s voice or feel his prompting in your life? What steps can you take today to clear out the temptations? It may not happen in a day, but you can start. Ask God and be obedient.
Abraham followed God without question.
I was in a Bible Study group a few years ago that studied this passage and changed my perspective on it. A question in the study guide was asked something like, “What do you think Abraham was feeling in this moment when God asked him to sacrifice his only son?” We all went back and forth about how nervous he felt or how many questions were running through his mind.
But then one man, Jerry, spoke up. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t think he felt those things at all. Here is a man who has walked closely with the Lord for most of, if not all of his life. When God called him to do something he did it, no questions asked. God had proved himself faithful in everything that Abraham did, and Abraham believed he would do it again.” Wow!
I think of myself now, and all that God has done for me, and I don’t know if would have reacted the same as Abraham in this situation. My responses would have been more like, “Are you sure God?” “He wouldn’t ask that of me, no way!” “Why would God do this when he just provided him to me?” “Ignore!”
But in this section of the Bible we have the privilege to witness one of the greatest acts of faith and learn that our fear of the Lord and obedience to him results in him being able to fulfill his promise completely. When we look back on all that he had done and has provided, we can’t help but trust that he will do the same in the current situation too.
Is God asking you to give something up in obedience to him? Are you willing to sacrifice that which is most precious to you in order to follow the Lord? What are you afraid of if you are obedient to him? What do you fear losing, or gaining?
Abraham’s fear of the Lord above all else allowed him to be blessed abundantly.
I decided in Middle School that I would try Track (I can’t remember why, haha!). When it was too cold out we would run laps inside the school down the long hallway and around the gym. I can’t quite remember anything else about the team (I must have blacked it out) except for one piece of advice the coach gave.
She would always say, “Keep your eyes up, never on the ground. Always know where you are headed. See the finish line and go for it!.” This small change in focus pushed me to keep running when I was tired. All other distractions faded away. I could only see the end goal.
Adam and Eve lost sight of their fear of the Lord and sinned by eating what God had forbidden. They hid in shame and then had to leave God’s beautiful Garden. But Job, even after his wife told him to “curse God and die,” and his friends hammered that he had sinned and God was punishing him, he kept his eyes on God.
Abraham had a great mountain in front of him. Not just physically, but the sacrifice that God had called him to make.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from this story was to not fear the mountain itself, but who the mountain belongs to.
No matter what God had called him to do, Abraham unswervingly obeyed. First, God told him to gather all of his belongings and family and move to wherever he told them to go. Then, he made a covenant that he would give Abraham a son and many descendants. God assigned him to be patient. Now, the greatest task, to sacrifice his son, the one God had promised him.
Abraham had his eyes, never on the mountain he faced, but on the one whom the mountain belonged. He knew beyond a doubt, that God was faithful and trustworthy. Oh, I long for that undistracted gaze on God.
What mountains are in your line of vision right now? Can you raise your focus above the mountain at who holds it in his hands? Write down all that God is to you. Find verses to strengthen your foundation in him.
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son foreshadows God’s surrender of his son.
“Isaac turned to Abraham and said, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘We have the fire and the wood,’ the boy said, ‘but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’ ‘God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,‘ Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.” Genesis 22:7-8
“It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.” 1 Peter 1:19-21
When we place our faith and hope in God; when we fix our gaze on the mountain maker and not the mountain itself, he provides the Lamb. There is nothing we could ever bring or do to deserve the freedom from sin and death that he gives. And there is nothing that can separate us from the love that God has for us. There is no sin too great for him to relieve you of. There is no temptation to powerful that he can’t help you overcome. All we have to do is come to the cross and surrender.
Take some time and pray about that today. Let God hold you and speak to you. Allow him pull you in close. Confess the sin, accept his grace, walk in his forgiveness. It is possible for your life to be changed by an amazing, ever-loving God.
P – Prayer:
God, thank you for this story of Abraham. It is full of lessons that I need to hear. I want a faith like his. I long for the sensitivity he had towards your voice and the conviction he had in being obedient to you. You are so good, and you long to do good things for me. Help me to hear your voice and feel your promptings. If there is any wicked way in me, help me to see it and give me the strength and courage to get it out of my life. Give me a way out. I pray that for everyone reading this today too. Amen