Monday

Do You Have a Faith Your Children Want to Imitate?


"I want you to kill your child."

If anyone said they heard a voice tell them to do this, we'd trot them down to the local psychiatric hospital and place their children in protective custody. Rightly so.

Today I read about Abraham, one of the patriarchs of the Christian (and Jewish) faith. As I read the account of how God, in a test of Abraham's faith, called him to sacrifice his beloved son as an offering on Mt. Moriah, God showed me an aspect of this story that I have never seen before.

This is the text from Genesis 22:9-10. "When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood."

By this point, although they had traveled with servants, Abraham and Isaac were alone. They had left the servants and traveled the rest of the way to the summit by themselves. The chronology isn't precise, but we can estimate that Isaac was at least 13, perhaps older than that, because he was able to carry enough wood for a burnt offering on his back up the mountain.

This would make Abraham somewhere between 113 and 116 or so, and although he was strong enough to walk up a mountain, he was nowhere near as strong as his 13 to 16 year old strapping young son.

At some point Abraham had to reveal to Isaac what God had instructed him to do. The truth might have already been dawning on Isaac, because the text shows Isaac's train of thought.  He had watched his father sacrifice many times. He knew what was required.

Wood?

Check.

Fire?

Check.

Sacrifice?

Um. . . . .

"Dad? We have the wood. We have the fire. Where's the sacrifice?"

"God will provide a sacrfice."

The text says that Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the altar.

Would your teenager let you tie him up and place him on an altar?

I believe Isaac voluntarily submitted. We know that Abraham, at the age of 116, certainly couldn't have wrestled him down and hog tied him. Do you know how strong 16 year old young men are? Do you know how strong 116 year old men aren't?

If your teenager had been Isaac, would he have let you tie him up and place him on an altar?

He would if he trusted you.

Better yet, he would if he trusted you and the God you followed.

And this, I believe, is one of the most important aspects of this great faith story. The Bible says that "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Abraham's faith was strong enough to believe, as he told his servants, "We will worship and then we will come back to you"

"We will come back to you."

Isaac had lived with his father for 16 years. He had heard the stories of how God had called him out of Ur of the Chaldees to leave his home for a place he did not know. He heard stories of how God had shown him the stars of the sky and promised descendants when he had no children. He heard stories of how God had used Abraham to rescue Lot, how God blessed him and gave him the Son of Laughter in his old age. And he heard the stories of how God had promised to make a great nation of him, Isaac.

He had watched his father's faith walk. He had heard his father's faith stories. He had listened to his father pray in the night.

And he, Isaac, believed.

He believed to the point of action. He believed in his father and his father's God enough to stand still while his father bound him with ropes, laid him on an altar, and raised a knife to slay him.

As a Christian parent today, is your faith worth imitating?

Is your faith contagious? Is it radical enough that your children stand up and take notice? Is it genuine enough that they want it for themselves? Is it worth imitating?

Oh, God, that we might have a faith so rich and full and genuine that our children will want it for themselves, that they will want it more than life itself.




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