The Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Within Us All
Exodus 3: 5-6 Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (NIV)
Sometimes we can have skewed notions of the God we serve. We can too easily fall under the condemnation the enemy constantly tries to place us under through his persistent accusations. While we strive for the perfection of being Christlike, we must realize that it is unattainable within the flesh we walk in. We read the Bible and tend to over-spiritualize the characters and fail to see their shortcomings as well as their successes. Today let us remember that the God we serve is our God despite of our condition. It is our condition that required a savior! That condition is of a sinner who will constantly be fighting against our flesh in our pursuit of our God. Paul understood this:
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life--that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7: 18-25 (NLT)
It is this battle we face every day as a Christian. Knowing what is right to do and failing to do so. But we note from today's key verses that the God we serve is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This term we use frequently in Christian circles. But if we merely look at these terms and fail to understand the Scriptures, then we fail to see the true power of God.
First, God is the God of Abraham. When we think of Abraham we often think of the faith that he had in God. The writer of Hebrews confirms:
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith--for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. Hebrews 11: 8-10 (NLT)
We should not gloss over this faith. This is the type of faith God expects from us. Imagine if God came to you today and told you to pick up your family and move far away to a land you have never known. Without any explanations. Without any human reasoning. I would venture to guess that many would dismiss the visitation and seek as many contradictory "confirmations" as possible! Abraham's faith also allowed him to attempt to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. After waiting for the promised son for decades, and raising him, God called upon Abraham to sacrifice him to the Lord. Abraham knew who he served. He knew that if God truly called upon him to sacrifice Isaac that God could also then raise him from the dead. He knew the promises God had made him about his descendents outnumbering the stars in the sky. Thus when Isaac asked his father where the sacrifice was, Abraham's faith answered:
"God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son," Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. Genesis 22: 8 (NLT)
And God did provide. The faith of Abraham was proven true by the faithfulness of God. But when we fondly think of God as the God of Abraham let us also remember that there was another side of Abraham. The characters in the Bible are not plaster saints. They are not cartoon veggie-tale cut outs. They were people just like you and me. When we think of the faith of Abraham, let us also remember his disobedience:
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "The L ord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her." And Abram agreed with Sarai's proposal. Genesis 16: 1-2 (NLT)
Now Abraham had already been promised by God that he would have a son who would be his heir and that his descendents would outnumber the stars in the sky! But many years had passed since the word God had given him. Maybe he started to doubt that word. I am sure we can all relate to that. Maybe he started to think he needed to help God along with the deliverance of the promise, another thing we battle and face today in our walk. Instead of relying on the promise he took the advice of his wife. How often do we seek advice from people when we already know what God has said? We serve the God of Abraham not only because of the faith Abraham showed in his life but more importantly because of the faith God showed to him despite the times when Abraham was disobedient.
God would of course deliver on His promise when Sarah conceived Isaac at the age of 90. Isaac also should be remembered for his great faith. Although not a great deal of attention is given Isaac in the Bible we can look to the story of his impending sacrifice to see his faith as well. We can sometimes fall into the false assumption that Isaac was but a child at this time but most scholars agree this is untrue. The historian Josephus places the age of Isaac at 25 and Adam Clarke guesses close to 33 when they trekked up Mount Moriah. Now, since Isaac inquires as to where the sacrifice will come from, we can conclude that he was unaware prior to ascending the mountain. But when they arrived the Bible does not tell of any struggle on Isaac's part:
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. Genesis 22: 9-10 (NLT)
God of course would intervene to stop Abraham, but the indication here is that Isaac, at least a young man at the time, was compliant as well with his own sacrifice. Yet despite this showing of faith, Isaac also was as human as we are today. There was another time, later in life, when there was a famine in the land. He receives a direct word from God to stay in the land of the Philistines and God reasserts the covenant promise He made to Abraham. Yet despite this, the faith of Isaac would waver:
When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say, "She is my wife." He thought, "The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful." Genesis 26: 7 (NIV)