Have you ever given someone something that was really special or important to you? It is hard to give up things we really love, even if we know the end benefit is good.
Could you imagine laying down your only son on an altar as a sacrifice? In the book of Genesis, God asks Abraham to bring his son Isaac to the altar to BE the sacrifice. Now, let’s take a step back and think about what God is really asking of Abraham. God promises to make an entire nation out of Abraham through his biological offspring with his wife, Sarah. After decades of waiting for a son, Sarah concludes that God must have meant something else and takes matters into her own hands. She offers her servant, Hagar, to be with Abraham in hopes that this will produce the promised offspring, since Sarah has concluded that she is barren and will not have children.
Have you ever taken matters into your own hands after waiting ‘long enough’ for God to move/speak into a situation? It is typically when things seem impossible that we decide to take back control. Our mind says something like this, “God I waited and tried to trust you, but you didn’t come through for me, so I am taking back control now.” However, God almost always does His work in the seemingly impossible situations so He alone can receive the glory.
Now I do have to say, Sarah has logical reason to believe that she will not have any children of her own. She is way past childbearing years and her body is long past the time of fertility at the age of 90. At that point in my life, I would probably conclude the same thing. How often do we do the same things on our own lives? We look at our circumstances and see that ‘logically’ it doesn’t make sense for certain things to happen. Or we have been praying for something for such a long time that when God does answer, we almost laugh at the idea because we have given up on a favorable outcome long ago or our human mind simply cannot comprehend it.
And laughing is exactly what Sarah does in Genesis 18 when, God tells Abraham “This time next year you shall bear a son”. Abraham also laughs earlier in chapter 17 v. 17. So after all of this time that God has promised Abraham and Sarah a son, God’s timing is when Abraham is 100 and Sarah is 90. I felt tired giving birth at age 33 so I cannot imagine going through that experience at age 90!
Then after the joy of the birth of the promised child, in chapter 22, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on the altar as an offering to Him.
What kind of God would ask to give up the very thing He promised you for YEARS and then FINALLY gave you?! I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have answered like Abraham did, which was immediate obedience. I would have given God all sorts of excuses and questions.
Now for those of you who are not familiar with this story, as Abraham is tying Isaac to the altar, an angel appears and tells Abraham in verse 12 of chapter 22, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.” So nothing happens to Isaac but Abraham does not know the outcome until the very end.
This beautiful picture of Abraham’s faith is a representation of what God did for us, by sending His only son, Jesus, to die for our sins. There is also another lesson here: God asks us to lay everything down on the altar as a sacrifice to Him but we tend to take control of certain areas of our lives. However, when we take control ourselves, we are really telling God that we don’t trust Him and that He does not know best.
What is God calling us to lie down on the altar and let go of…to let Him take control of? Let me also interject that with certain things, it may not be a one-time event. We may have to repeatedly go before The Lord and relinquish control, sometimes even daily. Some examples from my own life or friends close to me are: being single, wanting a child, parenting, an illness, a wayward child, a job, a difficult marriage, a difficult or strained relationship, control, fear, failure, perfectionism, and leadership.
Perhaps we are needing to lay something down that we have grasped and clung to so tightly that we don’t want to let it out of our reach. Or maybe it is the opposite; something we have long given up on and we honestly don’t want to think about anymore because it is just a reminder of pain.
Let’s lay our entire lives before the Lord as a sacrifice and watch how The Lord moves as a result. Let’s give Him the control that is already His to begin with. In doing so, we admit that God really does know best and His love and plan for our lives is perfect, far better than anything we could come up with on our own. Listen to what Abraham says to Isaac in verse 8 of chapter 22 when Isaac asks where the sacrifice is: “God himself will provide the sacrifice.” Because Abraham was willing to give up anything he had, God was able to provide something even better. Releasing control is hard but more than worth it to know that God is able to do more than we ever could on our own. He always has our best interest because He loves us unconditionally.