Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

Hebrews 11:17-22

By Faith…

The Preacher continues his sermon now turning to Abraham—the man to whom the promises were made that birthed a people (the Israelites and later Jews) that birthed the Messiah.  He had but one son through whom the promise would continue.  But God asked a strange and horrifying thing of Abraham—that he sacrifice his son.

We shudder at this.  How could God ask of any man what He Himself condemned?  We must understand two things in what is an extreme case: 1) God’s omniscience.  God knew that Abraham would obey and go through with His command, something none of the rest of us would do.  God also knew that he would stop Abraham at the last moment.  Yes, I am aware that God said to Abraham, “Now I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12), as if God were ignorant of this beforehand, but this is simply the manner in which Scripture speaks sometimes.  It should not be taken as teaching that God tests us to see what we might do in certain situations; He tests us to teach us about ourselves, not to teach Himself about us.  He knew each one of us inside and out from before the foundation of the world.

And 2) The point of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac which happened two thousand years before the birth of Christ was to foreshadow what the Father Himself would do for our salvation.  And two verses from that very account show this: God told Abraham, “Take your son, you only son Isaac, whom you love,…and offer him as a burnt offering” (22:2). Did you catch that: Your only son whom you love?  And the words are repeated in 22:12.  Sounds a lot like John 3:16, doesn’t it?  Of course, our hearts go out to Abraham (and surely Isaac), but do our hearts go out to the Father who offered His Son, His only Son Jesus, whom He loves, for us?  You see again how the Old Testament preaches Christ and even prefigures him in certain persons and their actions.  No wonder the Preacher used them as examples of great faith!

The rest of the passage shows how faith is ever forward-looking.  Abraham thought that God would simply raise Isaac from the dead; Isaac and Jacob blessed their children on their deathbeds certain that God would fulfill His promises to them; and, Joseph gave directions about his bones knowing that God would one day visit and liberate His people even though it was not for another four-hundred years (Genesis 50:22-26).  By bringing assurance about the future, faith encourages and serves to buttress hope, while love for the Lord feeds and nurtures both, for now abide these three.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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