Following Dad's Footsteps - A Brief Study On Abraham and Isaac
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
Fatherhood is an awesome responsibility. It is the father's job to show their children how to love and how to relate to others. It is the father's job to show his children how to love God and how to believe God. He shows them how to provide for themselves by not being lazy and how to view the world around them. And that's just the start of it. A child needs to look up to his dad and say that the life he sees his father living is honorable and worthy to be repeated in him.The involvement of fathers in their children's lives vary but as far as Scripture is concerned the role of a father is critical to the growth and well-being of a child.
In the ancient culture of Abraham's time, having children was a sign of true manhood. If a man could not produce an heir, he was less than a man. Children were a way that the family lineage would go on, a reason to work hard to give them an inheritance. Children were a way for a man to outlive himself and cause good things to go beyond his own lifetime.
Abraham was a man that believed in the God of Adam and Eve, the One who walked in the garden with them and created all things. His faith captured God's heart and God called him his "friend." He had had no children and the time of his producing an heir with his wife was quickly drawing to a close. God told him to believe in Him and he would have a son. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.
God saw the faith of Abraham was such that He could use this life to be a statement for all generations. God knew Abraham's heart and knew that he loved Him and would believe anything God said to him. God told him to leave his home and to dwell like a stranger in the land that God had promised to him and his prodigy after him. Abraham obeyed and knew in his heart that what God said to do was best for him.
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise [Abraham had no children when he was told to leave his home. His children were still in his loins as he dwelt in tents as a stranger]; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:8-10)
"And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel [These children including Jacob whose name was changed to Israel was still within the loins of Abraham. Abraham believed it to be so]."(Revelation 21:10-12)
In his old age, far past normal childbearing age, Abraham and Sarah had a baby and named him Isaac which means laughter, because both Abraham and Sarah had chuckled at the very thought of children, being so old. He realized that the whole promise that God gave to him would not be possible without this child of promise.
"By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed [after she laughed in disbelief she reconsidered and also believed in faith] and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars in the sky in multitude- innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore." (Hebrews 11:11-12)
Then God did something that has so many Bible readers scratching their heads at the very thought. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only son of promise to God. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. God never intended for Abraham to actually kill Isaac but Abraham showed God and every generation born thereafter that faith in God works to the good. His belief was strong enough so that God could undo any action that took his son away, even undoing his death on the alter of sacrifice.
Abraham lived a life that made him the best kind of father. Isaac, his son, saw character in his father that he could emulate. Written from Isaac's perspective is the following poem. Isaac was strengthened because of this event and in later years, the God of his father renewed the promise in him and he was told that through his (Isaac's) lineage would come the Son of promise, Jesus.
Let me tell you all a story, that really happened to me
A story of how the Lord of All, touched my family,
God chose the path, that my father daily walked
Often friends would "catch him," as he and God would talk,
He was different than most men, 'cause he really didn't care
What God above asked of him, He could send him anywhere,
And the way he told the story, God took him to a field
And told him to look all around, at the richness of its yield,
And He told him that all the land, as far as his eye could see
He was giving just to him, and to his family,
And though my dad was great, he was a simple man
He just believed God knew how, and that He had a plan,
My parents were very old, having lived so many years
It seems the dreams of having a child, were washed away in tears,
Yet my dad wouldn't give up hope, for he knew what God had said
As long as he was living, the promise was not dead.
I don't think he was at all surprised, when angels did appear
But my mom hid and laughed at what they said,
When she thought they couldn't hear,
But you know God got the last laugh (nine months down the road)
So my parents called me "laughter," and positively glowed,
I was treated gently, God's great promise was fulfilled
My father taught me to believe, and to listen to God's will,
Now comes the part of the story, that some may think is odd
That my father never questioned, the holy will of God,
I looked for my dad that day, he was speaking quietly outside
So I crouched behind a wagon, kneeling there to hide,
I knew he heard the voice of God, deep inside his ear
And I tried real hard to listen, and still I couldn't hear,
All I heard him say is,"Here I am." Then watched his face turn white
Then he crumpled himself to the ground, but never tried to fight,
"As thou will." I heard him say, and "Holy is your name."
I knew it was not time to go to him, but I wished to all the same,
Now since I was a baby, mom told stories to me at night
And felt my head, looked at me, making sure I was alright,
And dad would watch her do it, smiling while she talked
But this night he didn't come, instead went to take a walk,
And though my mother's voice, could soothe worries from my head
I kept thinking about my dad, wondering what God had said,
What would make my dad drop and cry, and make his face turn white?
I made up my mind to obey him, to do all he said was right,
Early in the morning, my dad shook me wide awake
He told me to be quiet, no noise was I to make,
I helped him saddle up the donkey, a strange look was on his face
A mixture of sadness and conviction, as we rode off for the place
That God had revealed to him, and silently we rode
As the sunrise broke upon us, in a pink and purple glow,
I knew there was a reason, that my mom was left behind
And I was a just a little nervous, with all this on my mind,
I asked, "Father, where is the lamb, that you plan to sacrifice?
"God will have a lamb for us," he said, I didn't ask him twice,
A peace then came upon me, that God's will would be done
I silently stood there, and never thought to run,
I willingly lay down, on that wood for the sacrifice
And I saw the love in daddy's eyes, as he raised the knife to slice,
I didn't know til heaven, why God made this test for us
And that it wasn't just a matter, of how much we did trust,
But it pictured for all generations, how Messiah would come and die
For there was a ram caught in the thicket, and I know the reason why,
So people could hear our story, and listen, and choose life
And that's why my daddy took me, and why he raised the knife,
My daddy is my hero, because of him I know my God
Because of him millions of folks, with heaven's shoes are shod....
I love my dad.
This story has puzzled casual readers of the Bible for generations. How could God ask this of him? My answer to that is that Abraham was a unique person in a unique set of circumstances. He and God spoke together and Abraham trusted God. If God was to ask something of me it would not likely be something such as this. It would be something tailored to me and to my measure of faith. This man had talked to God all his life about a son. I don't believe that son was just for him. The son of promise was also for Sarah who was a target of reproach to all Israel because of barrenness. It was a cruel custom but it existed nonetheless. Sarah was called names and abused every day. She would cry and silently mourn. God's promise took away her pain. Abraham listened to God and just believed Him. When God told Him that he would make his children be in number as the stars of heaven, Abraham knew what this would do for his beloved Sarah. He knew what that would mean for his future. But most of all, Abraham knew from what God had said that the Messiah who would come to save the world would come through him, through Isaac. This solidified his faith and made it unshakable. There was a reason to remain firm in the hope of the promise. That made this more than a word of mouth promise. It was a covenant that Abraham could stand on with conviction. The fact that Messiah was foretold even in the Garden of Eden, gave this promise value, worth its weight in gold. That covenant would be honored even beyond the grave, for he knew, should his son die, God could raise him even from the dead.
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense [Abraham would have killed him and God knew it and it was as if he had done so and God have him back to his dad from that "dead" state]." (Hebrews 11:17-19)
What about you reader? Do you stand with conviction on the words God has said? Do you know that God has provided One out of the lineage of Abraham to die for your sins? You do not have to die in your sins and reap the reward for them which would be an eternity away from God. The Bible says, "Abraham believed and it was counted to him for salvation." Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus came to earth, that God came in human flesh to die for you? Do you believe that He was buried and rose from the dead? If you do believe it, you can cry out to God to save you and you will be like Abraham. It will be counted for your salvation. Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus: I know that I'm a sinner. I know that you are God in human flesh and you came to earth to shed that precious blood for sinners, for me. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and rose again from the dead. Please Lord I need a Savior. Please forgive me for my sins and cover them with the value of Your precious blood. I turn from the way I live and promise to follow You all the rest of my life for You are the only way of salvation. Thank you for hearing and saving me. I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.