The story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac is difficult to read, especially if you have children of your own. (I know Abraham does not actually sacrifice Isaac, but scripture tells us that Abraham figuratively did receive Isaac back from the dead (See Hebrews 11.17-19) and as such, can be considered as having sacrificed him.)
Imagine for just a moment what it must have felt like to be Isaac. While we do not have any description of how Abraham treated Isaac, I do not think it is a far stretch to think that he doted on this son, a child he had after giving up on any hope of actually having children in his old age. And here is this loving father, tying his son up and placing him on an alter…
What kind of father willingly, even if it is somewhat begrudgingly, takes his son, his ONLY son, whom he loved, to be sacrificed?
Obviously, the echoes of God our Father, who also gave up his only son, the one he loved, reverberate throughout this story. We can answer our question even more directly, however. Who does this kind of thing? One who is completely and totally confident that God really is Yahweh-Yireh.
Yahweh-Yireh. The God who provides.
You get a sense that Abraham was like those of us who watch a movie where the hero finds himself or herself in a pickle. It would appear that there is no way out. They have gone too far this time, there is nothing that can save them. (In fact, doesn’t the further into the mess they have gone, the better the sense of relief for us when they get out?)
We watch a movie like this and while there are moments of anxiousness, wondering if the hero really will prevail, for most of us there is always a sense of confidence that the hero will indeed find a way out of the inescapable jam. This was Abraham, knowing that even if Isaac was actually killed, God could bring him back to life (again, Hebrews 11.17-19).
The real challenge is for us. We need to move from that movie type of assurance, trusting in a make-believe world on the silver screen, to living and acting on the reality that God will indeed provide for us.
He will rescue us. We have assurance of that. Now, can we act on it?
God hears Ishmael crying in the desert, after he and his mother are forced to flee from the house of Abraham. This is actually consistent with God’s nature, hearing the cries of those in need. How have you experienced God hearing your cries or the cries of someone else who was in need?
How comfortable are we with the notion that people can be evaluated by their “fruit?” How comfortable are you with this standard being applied to your own life? How can you be more willing to allow your fruit to speak for your life?
Do you follow God with your full heart? How can we be sure we are not living half-hearted lives?
Reading this section of Proverbs is like watching someone walk toward the noise in a scary movie, all the while the audience is yelling: “Don’t do it!” Why is there such an allure to go toward the noise … or toward evil, represented here in Proverbs by the promiscuous woman? How can we ensure wisdom keeps us on the paths of righteousness?