Advent 2015: Born Is The King: Day 6

Jesus Is The True & Better Isaac

by

Today's Text: Genesis 22:1-22, John 3:16-17, 1 John 4:7-9

Text: Genesis 22:1-22, John 3:16-17, 1 John 4:7-9

I sat with arms folded in the back row, watching as the speaker stood in the front of the room. His voice rose with intensity as his fingers flipped through the translucent pages of his Bible, which opened from the left, the verses printed top to bottom and right to left. I couldn’t understand a word he said. Then a silent hush came over the room as he stopped speaking,   his eyes scanning the room of Japanese college students. I looked down at my folded arms to avoid eye contact. In the silent space of that moment I understood perfectly the question God had impressed on my heart:

“Are you willing to sell your house in Southern California, uproot the kids from their friends and schools to move to another continent, learn the language, and serve Me here if I say so?”

After a month immersed in the culture, our summer mission team still had another two weeks before returning home. In the coming days, I walked the streets of Japan, wrestling long and hard with those questions and wondering: would I be willing to sacrifice the things I held most dear if the Lord asked me to?

What I love most about today’s reading from Genesis is the painfully beautiful dance of love, surrender, and trust displayed in Abraham and Isaac. Abraham’s son was a miracle—a living and breathing, walking and talking impossibility. Isaac was a tangible, daily reminder to Abraham of God’s faithfulness, perfect provision, and ultimate sovereignty. Still, after making good on His covenant promise, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son he loved. In faith, Abraham obeyed, thinking God would somehow raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Abraham surrendered to God, and Isaac did as well. As a strong young man, he likely could have overpowered his older, frail father, but he allowed Abraham to tie him down and watched as his loving father lifted his knife to kill him as the burnt offering. Isaac loved and trusted both his father, Abraham, and his God, Yahweh.

Jesus, too, could have sought to preserve His life by leaving His sleeping friends in the garden and running away to a distant country. But instead, He wrestled and finally surrendered, praying, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Both Isaac and Jesus demonstrated trust in their fathers. Both knew they could rest secure in God the Father’s hands because they were deeply loved by Him. When Abraham demonstrated his love for God by offering up his only son, God spared the son and provided the sacrifice. But, because of His great love for you and me, God did not spare His only Son. Jesus is the true and better Isaac—the perfect sacrifice—lovingly offered by both the Father and the Son.

The near-sacrifice of Isaac points to the ultimate sacrifice given of pure love and unbounded mercy. And that, dear friends, is the underlying message of Advent: God loves you.

GOD loves you.
God LOVES you.
God loves YOU.

No sacrifice we make, no matter how dear, will ever trump the sacrifice made on the cross by our Savior. Our response to this great love is to simply give ourselves, to offer up our lives as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). We will come to this crossroads of trust over and over, but in the midst of the unknown—the unanswered questions, the bewildering circumstances—we can safely surrender and rest in God’s great love.

  “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety. This is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.”
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

 

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  • I’m late ready this advent. But it was perfect timing. THIS was exactly what I needed to read during the most important decision making for our family. Thank you Jesus for always being faithful and NEVER failing to come through. You truly are the perfect sacrifice. Father God, you NEVER fail to provide. I’m overwhelmed by You ❤️

    • Ellie Roland

      ♥️

    • Summer

      Same here! I feel bad for being a few days behind. But if I had read this on time, the message wouldn’t have been relevant! Praise God!

  • I have noticed this before, but it stood out even more so when reading this post and these scriptures: “We will come to this crossroads of trust over and over, but in the midst of the unknown—the unanswered questions, the bewildering circumstances—we can safely surrender and rest in God’s great love.” Abraham was brought to a crossroad. Was he going to trust and obey, or not? He proved his faith in God when he chose to trust and obey. And in doing this, God let him know that the promise was still there for him. (Gen 22:15-18) If Abraham had allowed unbelief and his own desires to stand in the way of his trust and obedience, the covenant promise would have been broken. God’s promise is offered freely and undeservedly, but the ultimate fulfillment of the promise is always contingent upon our responding in trust and obedience.

  • You know… I’ve been having a conversation that has been pretty redundant in the last few weeks with God. Really wrestling with Him as to if I am in the right place or not. My marriage has always been pretty rocky. Now with kids, I often struggle if I really am following God and doing the right thing sticking it out with my husband. He has been struggling with his faith for so long, which I know is why it is just so difficult. But, the constant arguments with the kids able to hear in… bothers me. I wonder how in the world are they seeing Jesus when what I so desperately want is for them to see Him…to know Him. To know He loves them. So I question God. Why would you put us in this position? Why can’t my husband be the leader I know He wants to be? Why can’t he just stop being so selfish? Why don’t I know how to help him better? Why is it so hard every day? Should I just walk away?—- But here I see another reminder. God loves us. God loves me. He loves my kids. He loves my husband. He is working behind the scenes. I may need to sacrifice a little. It may look crazy from my view, but maybe God is doing something bigger than I can see. I need to just keep my eyes on Him. I need to stay in prayer for my husband. God’s doing something. It wouldn’t be so difficult and the enemy wouldn’t be trying so hard to tear it all apart if He wasn’t.

    • GW

      Hi REM. I am not married nor do I have children. But I have asked questions like yours before. When I am asking God when is He going to step in. Sometimes, I forget to pray about the people I’m annoyed with. I’m not sure if you have been or not but pray for your husband and pray for your children. God does here!!

    • Mary Beth

      R E M. I am praying with you! I admire your courage and tenacity. Praying peace for your heart as you stand back and watch and see how the Lord is fighting and will continue to fight this battle. Ex. 14:13-14

    • AHJ

      REM, I grew up n a home with parents who fought a lot. I pray your children can understand that we are all sinners in need of Jesus. A great way to model Jesus’ love isn’t through perfect behavior but though forgiveness and love. You are strong and God can continue to strengthen you.

    • Jessi

      I used to feel exactly how you feel right now. After years of waiting for my husband to stop being so selfish and lead our family spiritually, I reached a point of giving up. I prayed and prayed and prayed, with a fervor and desperation that I never dreamed I’d reach, that God would change my husband and heal our marriage. I am ashamed to admit, as a life-long Christian, how weak and inconsistent (almost non-existent) my prayer life was when I was first married. But after weathering some very difficult seasons, I had nowhere to turn but to prayer for the issues in our marriage–addictions, financial problems, and the selfishness that I saw in my husband… But after only few short days of REALLY praying, I began to see my own selfishness. God pointed out to me MY shortcomings, and I realized I couldn’t ask my husband to do what I wasn’t doing. So I really focused on pointing my children to Jesus and leading my family spiritually, because someone needed to do it. I did my best to bring our family to the places I felt God leading us, whether my husband was on board or not. I worked on being considerate to him in the ways I wished he was to me. Thankfully God worked in my heart as well as my husband’s. Our marriage is in a great place, and we are both more humble, less selfish people who love Jesus more than ever because of the restoration and healing he provides.
      So all I can say is pray, pray, pray, Sister! And you are right. The enemy wouldn’t be trying so hard to tear it all apart for no reason. <3

    • Kay

      Covering you with my prayers

  • Such an amazing and powerful message that I so needed to here. Praying that we all step out in faith and sacrifice today. Love this beautiful, God- fearing community!!

  • Amanda Vincent

    This was a powerhouse of a message, it struck my heat so powerfully.

  • Morgan I.

    I love the trust that both Abraham and Isaac had.
    #godofpower

  • Kasey Summers

    I love this story because it just blows my mind. The trust that Abraham had to have. The trust that Isaac had to have had. Trust comes from love and trust displayed in action is surrender. Love how Vivian explained how all three of those things go hand and hand. Love, trust, and surrender. Let’s love one another because love is from God and God is love. Loving this Advent study so so much.

  • Eva-Karin

    I have never thought about Abraham’s sacrifice in light of Gods own sacrifice. He did what he does not ask Abraham to do. How incredibly powerful to realize!

  • Always wondered about why Isaac didn’t fight back but what a beautiful picture of the Gospel! Jesus submitted to the Father’s will as Isaac submitted to His father’s will. Currently in awe of the beauty of Scripture.

  • Becca Bailey

    This helped put some things into perspective for me. I’m facing a move this summer so my husband can pursue his PhD, which is amazing, but it will take us far away from my parents. It’s honestly really hard for me to think about it because I’m so blessed by their visits and help with our little one. But this devotional reminded me that when I step out in faith to support the call God has placed on my husband (and therefore on our family), He will provide for me the relationships I need. And ultimately, He will be there in an even more intimate way than any family or friend could ever be.

    • Amanda

      Becca, I just wanted to let you know that even though I don’t know you or your family, I will be praying for you. My husband and I moved from California to Idaho right after we got married (literally drove to Idaho right after our honeymoon), and the hardest and scariest part has been leaving behind my parents and siblings. Yet where my fears have been plenty, His grace has abounded more. Where my loneliness has been great, his comfort has been greater. Be encouraged that it’s ok to take a season to mourn the changes that are about to take place, because God will mourn with you. Following his call doesn’t mean you have to forsake grieving what you’ve left behind. But also be encouraged that even that grief is for his good; if He calls you to it, He’ll pull you through it.

      • Kavicky

        Thank you Amanda! I recently moved to another state and am grieving the move, the changes, the loss of a faith community. Thank you for the permission to grieve. I always feel like I shouldn’t have those feelings because I truly believe that God has led is here. For as much divine intervention we had in our move, Satan is now attacking!

        • Claudia

          Kavicky, thank you for being transparent. I’m lifting you and your family up in prayer and asking God to banish the enemy from your lives and provide protection over your hearts. May you feel His peace and presence.

  • Michelle

    I have to be honest, this is my first SRT study and for some reason, I have had a really hard time with it. Not sure why, but it’s just been hard. I’m a big feeler and I’ve felt so disconnected to this and the format. BUT, the study today finally got in. I’ve really struggled in the recent past with holding on too tightly to things, people, even dreams I have, for fear God would take them away. Starting to realize that giving things over to Him fully is crucial. Trying to trust that He knows best and why would I want something that I hadn’t given over to Him anyway?? Sigh, this particular issue….huge work in progress in my life! Currently in the process of trying to let go of my boyfriend because I’m not sure we’re really a good fit. Which means: being single again at 36. Leaning in to Him, giving Him my doubts and fears. Oh trust. God, help my unbelief.

    • Claudia

      Michelle, what a blessing your honesty is to my heart. I appreciate the sincerity and openness. I struggle with holding onto things/people too, but as you so wisely said, why would I want anything that God doesn’t want for me? He always has the very best for us, and yet still He encourages us to come to him in prayer and ask for His intercession… but ultimately we are to ask (as Jesus did in Gethsemane) for not our will but His to be done. I’ll be praying for you, that you would find guidance and that God would help loosen the grip your heart has on certain people and things. I hope that you find the rest of the study as beautiful and touching as this entry.

      • Michelle

        Thank you so much, Claudia for your kind words. God is definitely working and I feel His love. It’s still hard and I know it will be a process but going to try and cling to Him as much as possible!!!

  • Tears…and more tears! Wish I believed this for me! I believe it for everyone else!

    • niki

      Praying for you! You are precious, loved, and worth dying for – Jesus did this for you – you are worth it! Praying that you may see this precious truth for you!

  • We are so loved to love!

  • Lynn Schroeder

    The AW Tozer quote should be branded on my heart…something I forget often, but oh so true. He is always our safe and better answer.

  • I was captured by the open-handed heart of Abraham! My heart longs to be like this as I am daily reminded that this world will never satisfy and my need for Jesus blows my expectations!

  • Jesus is so wonderful. He works in such mysterious, odd ways, and His humor is… interesting. But what makes me wonder most is how He could possibly forgive an awful, horrible, sinful wretch like me, who lies and covets every day, has turned her back upon her King more than a thousand times, yet He still went to the cross to suffer a painful, agonizing crucifixion for the pardoning of my sin. He forgives me every day and is endlessly gracious. Not only does He give me undeserved grace, He’s also given me eternal freedom that can be taken by no man or demon. Incredible, isn’t He?

  • Colleen T

    Lost my job earlier this week and it’s been so hard not to worry about what’s to come. Such a good reminder that God loves us, and we’re not to worry. He will provide. Help me trust you, Lord.

  • Also, I think this might be on the best, most in-depth studies on SRT yet. I’ve LOVED it.

  • So I’m not sure how I never drew the parallel between Abraham and Isaac and God the Father and Jesus today! I always just thought of the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice his son as its own separate story, never realizing that’s exactly what God did with Jesus…except He had to go through with the ultimate sacrifice. So thankful for when He reveals things through His Word.

  • Christen Dominski

    My roommate and I are doing this study together and found days devotional very powerful. We feel that sometimes we take for granted the sacrifice and forget that our response should be sacrifice as well. Not because we have to but because we are responding to the sacrifice given to us. Without the Lord we have nothing. How could we not sacrifice everything?

    Perfect reminder for us today.

  • This day in advent has struck me harder than any. I work for a college ministry that recently lost its pastor and is facing a season of transition, change, and loss. I find myself everyday becoming more and more anxious about these students and what will happen to them as well as this ministry. God has been nudging me for quite some time in this season to open my hands and trust him, and today was a very kind but loud wake up call. I love reading all of these responses because it reminds me I’m not alone in my trouble to let go completely and trust God, but I’m also not alone in my desire to learn how to. Lifting all of you up! He is bigger!

  • I love this.
    I am getting to the age where I need to start thinking about my future–where to go to college, what to study, how to make a career out of whatever I study.
    And I am afraid. I am afraid God will call me somewhere I don’t want to go, that I will be unhappy if I do what He asks of me.
    But that is so very much the opposite! Jesus’ plan is far BETTER than anything I could dream up for myself! So what do I have to be scared of, knowing that Jesus loves me and is watching out for me?

    • Bri

      HANNAH. I found you!!! Your words are once again, so comforting. Praying for you as you begin this process! Love you so much.

  • I just made a decision to call things off with my boyfriend because I found out about a current pornography addiction/struggle of his and I desire to see freedom and healing before we move forward. I will tell him this on Monday and it is the most difficult thing I’ve done so far. I know that this is the sacrifice the Lord wants me to make and that He rewards obedience.

    • Vickie

      I will pray for you

    • Vickie

      You are blessing your BF doing this

    • Vicki

      Good for you, Lauren! Indeed, God will bless your faithfulness!

    • Jerrica L

      Lauren – every man has a lustful and sinful nature and even if it’s best for you to take this time off/break up..I hope you approach him with love and forgiveness. I’m not sure if he confessed or you just found out, but if he his ready for repentance, he will need your help, your prayers, accountability, and encouragement.
      Your obedience to the Lord is disagreeing with the sin which is rightfully so, but God also calls us to forgive and acknowledge no sin is greater than any other.
      “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”
      Praying for you both!

  • Karebear

    As I was reading this one of the things that came to mind that I treasure are my students. I didn’t realize until tonight though that that’s the case. I found out tonight that I may not be able to go in to school to teach at least on Monday maybe longer, and the thought of leaving them to someone else two weeks before Christmas break, the week before their Christmas Play makes me sad and questioning why…although a break would be kind of nice, it wasn’t part of my plan. But even in this seemingly small “trial” God is good, His plan is better than mine, HE LOVES ME, and I need to give my students over to Him as well.

  • 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. When I read this part of the story, I was immediately reminded of Jesus walking with his own cross to be crucified. Isaac carried his wood to the altar just as Jesus carried His cross. Both willing to be sacrifices, but only One emerging as the true sacrifice.

  • I have such a tight grip on silly things at times. I am learning sometimes slower than I care to admit that God’s plans are so much better than mine. I hope that I / we can all find that peace in full surrender to Him! He is such a loving God!!!

  • Jeannette

    Thank you so much for sharing this… so timely. We live overseas in Europe as missionaries. It has its good days and bad days… but the worst part is feeling like I have sacrificed my kids on the altar. 3 in America…and 2 here in Italy. They don’t have many Christian friends, probably none actually. But this study was very encouraging, knowing that God himself will meet every one of my kids’ needs. Thankful heart.

  • Hannah Ash

    This really makes me think. We miscarried our first child 3 weeks ago. I question if I would have the faith or strength to sacrifice my only child like Abraham did if God had called me to willingly give up my child. I think I’d tend to hold on too closely if I was given the choice to hold on to or sacrifice my child. But this is what God asks, not that I sacrifice my child in the way God asked Abraham to do, but to hold our future children, my plans, my spouse, all things, loosely.
    I know God is trustworthy and works all things for good, and loves us more than I can know or understand. This reading was a great reminder to me to hold things loosely in my hands and to keep my hands raised up to God.
    Having just lost our baby, I gained huge respect for Abraham as he was willing to give up his one and only son who was a miracle baby. How much faith do I have in God today?

    • Jerrica L

      Hannah- I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m so thankful for this study and your continued pursuit of the Lord. Our heavenly, hope babies will have a special Christmas this year in the arms of Jesus. The thought brings so much peace and comfort!
      Hopemommies.org

    • Eeleah

      Thanks for sharing Hannah! Must be a difficult time for you. Takes a lot of courage and strength to turn our hands upward in the midst of pain and sorrow. Praying God will richly bless u and provide all u need.

  • “Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.”

    Wow. This provided such clarity. My husband and I are moving next year and I was talking to him right before I read this about my anxiety toward finding a new job, new home, new church. This devotional spoke straight to the heart of my anxiety and reminded me of who is the true Provider. ❤️

  • Samantha

    Wow. Just wow. So much to take in from today’s reading. I hadn’t linked Isaac and Jesus together before which is bizarre because the similarities are glaring, aren’t they. So thankful to a God who chose to love us, so very deeply, that he would sacrifice his only Son and for a Saviour who trusted his Father so deeply that He gave His life for my sins!!

    I’m struck by the question asked at the beginning…would I be willing to sacrifice something I hold dear if the Lord asked me to? Could I surrender the things I love most?

  • Another thought: this story in the OT is another prophetic promise of the Messiah. Abraham representing the law and the sacrifices that were never enough. And then God at the right time sending a lamb to take our rightful place- my place. This story just beats and breathes Jesus and it is so so beautiful to me ❤️

  • Powerful encouraging words this morning. I am struggling under a mountain of family dramas and expectations that have been put on me. I feel I am running on empty. But as I looked to the Lord this morning I am reminded that the Lord will provide. He has always provided for me. I can trust Him and surrender all my worries and cares to Him for He loves- oh how he loves!!!

  • Haileyblackmer

    I could read today’s devotional and scripture over and over again! The love, respect, faith, and concept overwhelmed my heart today and literally brought me to tears. The foreshadowing that has taken place between the Old and New Testament is simply amazing. I have learned today to trust in my faith and to always realize that my father will provide. I myself am getting married in May and will soon be leaving my parents home. The home that has always supported me, emotionally and financially! This reading today has only reassured what I know Jesus has been telling me all along.

    One- That my future husband and I will find a home to move into after our wedding.
    Two- To not be scared or have anxiety.
    Three- Never give up trusting in The Lord because he will ways provide.❤️

    • Katie

      I’m praying for you Hailey! It is so important as you start your marriage and as you search for a home, to keep all things surrendered to the Lord!! He is your solid rock and will provide. I remember beginning that entire season with my husband and it was probably the best time to see and look back to be reminded of God’s faithfulness! Enjoy it!

  • Jami Lynn

    This was SO good. I’ve just recently moved away from all of my family in obedience to the Lord calling me to Nashville. I’m hardly continents away from them, but it’s been really hard, nonetheless. It’s so good to be reminded of the way Jesus trusted His Father and knew He was deeply loved by Him. That always provides me with the strength when I just feel really homesick & redirects my attention onto Him, revealing the ways He has rewarded my obedience.

  • Caroline @ In Due Time

    What a beautiful sacrifice was made. Would I be willing to make that same sacrifice, if asked? http://www.in-due-time.com

  • ❤️Thank you for sharing, Tina! Helped and encouraged my heart this morning.

  • Trust. I want everyone to trust me in the things I say and do, yet how often do I struggle with trusting my Creator?? What a great reminder of two examples of ultimate trust. Jesus TRUSTED His Father in Heaven with His perfect plan of salvation!! It wasn’t without pain, but it was meant to be and needed to happen. I need to continue to TRUST in the Lord..that what He has planned for me will become apparent if I will trust in HIM alone! “We can surrender and safely rest in God’s great love.” What an awesome truth to stand on!! Thank you SRT for these Advent devotionals!!

  • A couple years ago, I lived in a foreign place. I fought my feelings of disconnection and hurt to arrive at a very humbling heart space. Around this time – after a long season of distressed waiting – God blessed me with the work my heart most desired. I committed my work to Him. Thinking my changed circumstances were answered prayers (they were!) I was still left feeling confused when things got hard. Because God’s good looked way different than any good I could imagine. Needless to say, after a quick promotion and many turnovers in staff, I was exhausted. I leaned into the Lord. Humbling myself every morning to love people who were hardest to love amid constant change and transition.
    Under a new boss and in a very new job position, I fell prey to my struggle with perfectionism. Perfectionism leads me down the dangerous path of overwhelmed, mental exhaustion, and burnout. And I could not sustain it. I left that job. Further, my husband and I left that foreign place. And the thing is that after all this time, I can’t help but feel that I disappointed God then (and even myself) in leaving. In walking away from work I know He prepared for me. I distinctly recall a time in the midst of doubts (pre-job interview), that I felt ever so clearly God speaking to my heart, “This will work out, I’ve got this.” And He did, but then per usual, I go and feel I make a mess of the whole thing. And even now, the disappointment continues in not being able to put the pieces back together, not feeling able to commit new & good work to Him.
    All this to say, I value my work and how I spend my time. I want to commit this area to God, but have so much confusion and fear of messing it up…again. And it all feels so silly, but after nearly two years, I’m still stuck.
    Praying with all my heart this Advent that God will give me hope and grow my faithfulness. To take my eyes off my circumstances and place them squarely on Him. That He would set my feet on a new path. Less of me, my pride, my perfectionism and more of Him, a humble heart, His perfect goodness. May my heart fully let go to His ways, to receive His truth, trust His presence, and to become more aware to His better plan.
    Praying God meets us all where we are this Advent season. Surrounding us in His perfect love, His best provisions, and His unending mercy. Grateful for God’s love over us, over me – even & especially when it feels so undeserved.

    • Alexis

      Thank you for your words. I needed to see this. I had a similar situation and walked away from it, but God allowed things to be restored. Now I am back to where God wants me, and fear of not being perfect, not being worthy and messing it up again hovers over me. That urge to walk away is back. Praying that when the time comes, to fully surrender, trust Him in the process and walk out the thing the Lord has planned.

  • Christina D.

    I just want to share that the quote by Tozer from The Pursuit of God is fantastic and from a chapter in that book that has made such a deep impression on my heart. Tozer digs so deep in this story explaining that by bringing Abraham to the brink of sacrificing his most deeply loved son, God ensured that He was held above all else. Another quote from Tozer in this book regarding Abraham, “He [God] now says in effect, ‘It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love.'” This book has made such a profound effect on my heart and faith I just wanted to let you all know it’s also available on kindle/kindle app for free! Loved this devotional this morning and it is encouraging me to hold lightly to the things I hold most dear and tightly to God and His promises.

  • JourdanS

    I am going through a season a many changes and unknowns. Graduating college, getting my first job, moving, and getting married. I loved the last part that says, “we can surrender and safely rest in God’s great love.” A great reminder that he has a plan and I need to trust.

  • PaigeyMac

    I really love this part of A.W. Tozer’s quite, “Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.”
This is my first time participating in one of SRT’s “live” studies, and I’m so enjoying it! Thank you for sharing with us, SRT!
    Blessings :)

  • Today’s study was especially good. GOD loves you, God LOVES you, God loves YOU

  • Every time I read this Genesis passage, I find new threads/truths to parallel God’s sacrifice of Jesus. Today’s truth: Abraham placed Isaac on top of the wood–his altar. The cross, if you will, became God’s altar for the true Lamb of God who takes away our sins once for all.

  • So good to know that I can place my family on the alter….and it is not by my work that they will be healed, helped or kept safe…. But by Jesus who is always working on their behalf!

  • I thought about that as I was reading, that Isaac was likely strong enough to fight his father off & get the heck down off that mountain! But he didn’t, instead surrendering completely to God, even when it was clear he may lose his life. And that’s exactly how I need to approach sacrifice; wholly surrendered, hands in the air, white flag waving, all-I-need-is-Jesus sacrifice of all the things I hold more closely to my heart than Him!! He wants me to lay them all down & I’ve selfishly kept some of them for myself. But this post has me asking myself many questions, and I’m very thankful for the perspective this morning!

    • Kim

      Hmmm… convicting words this morning Kylee! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have some heart searching and hand opening of my own to do!

  • Stephanie

    Am so grateful and beyond for this reading this morning. Such a powerful moment of truth that was so needed to remind me that it is not whether God gives me back my dreams but rather if I am willing to allow them to stay on the alter, even when it looks like a waste.

  • “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

    How my heart hurts to think about sacrificing my only son, and I’m not even a mother! This just reminds me how unexplainable, incomprehensible, and perfectly wonderful is God’s love for us. How marvelous to dwell on it this Advent and all year long and respond it to as 1 John says, by loving God back and loving others.

  • Love these words, Vivian! I’m constantly inspired by the way God speaks through you. I’m considering spending a year on summer mission in the Middle East, and I’m asking myself, “Am I willing to go? To surrender my all?” This post was much needed!

  • Sarah Beth

    I have never realized there was a connection, or mirror of the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus. What an amazing comparison. THANK YOU for pointing that out to us today! God is SO good and I am so undeserving of His love and patience with me. I also loved the bold reminder that GOD LOVES YOU. He loves me. And He loves you. We are so blessed.

  • I am again reminded that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. I have been in situations such a B rationalizing with God on why my plan is better, often kicking and screaming to follow God’s plan. As I reflect on these time, I realize how selfish I can be. My prayer is that I will be ready to sacrifice.

    God loves us so much. He is so loving and patient with me. Then, I think am I as patient with my children. Thank you for this message.

  • Hebrews 2:1 says, “Therefore we must pay much close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” I read that this morning and thought how appropriate it seems for today’s reading.

  • Wow. This was the first time I grasped how brave Abraham was. His trust was powerful beyond measure to give up his son. As I struggle with singleness and the deep yearning for a husband and family, I pray for that same trust in the Lord.

  • My human brain always thinks that’s that I have the ability to hold something back from God and keep it from myself. This message today is a great reminder that not only should I not want to keep something from God, but I simply can’t. He knows all and always has my best interests at heart.

  • Dannielle

    Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.
    Corrie ten Boom

  • I love this reading and message today. I’ve read recently (maybe here?) that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but rather fear. When we fear for ourselves and our possessions, relationships, etc., we are inwardly suggesting that God’s not big enough to handle it. But all we need is a mustard seed of faith to move a forest, and to set our minds in the right place, that God IS big enough, that he DOES love us, and then our hearts will follow.

  • Sarah_Joy

    “No sacrifice we make, no matter how dear, will ever trump the sacrifice made on the cross by our Savior.” Such a good reminder when I feel moments of struggle or “sacrifice” before me. God has had His heart broken, sacrificed His beloved Son, FOR ME. Nothing in my life will compete with that. My life is cake by comparison to so many in our world. All I can do is live with gratefully open hands offering all I have back to Him as a “living sacrifice.” –Thank you for this one this morning.–

  • Maribeth

    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – When we profess Him as Lord, God will never require of us more than He is willing to give us the grace and ability to handle. I never cease to be amazed in my own life with the peace my husband and I feel even with the hardest decisions when we put our trust in the Lord and in His provision for us. Abraham and Isaac -and Jesus even more so in his state of humility – demonstrate the trust we are to have in God’s promises to work all things for our good and His glory.

  • Melissabee

    My firstborn son’s middle name is Isaac. I chose that name because it means laughter. He has brought lots of joy and laughter to our family but God has also called me many times to lay him down on the altar and surrender him to Jesus. First with a scary sickness when he was 1, then with surgery at 3, then he had 12 cavities and we had to undergo 4 visits to the dentist that were very painful and hard for us . I remember the dentist trips. One of the trips I was praying for a miracle for his teeth. That Jesus would heal him and I heard Jesus call me to surrender him and lay him down. I knew this was the safest place he could be. I literally felt as though I was laying my son on the altar of sacrifice and had to trust Jesus. That visit to the dentist ended up being one we won’t forget. The dentist only found 1 out of 3 cavities that day that she was going to fix. Jesus had actually healed his teeth. Surrender is a powerful thing.as Tozer said,It truly is the safest place we can be in God!

    • Toni

      God is teaching me this lesson as well. My 17 year old son is internationally adopted. This past year his feelings of rejection and abandonment, along with a chemical imbalance, led him to become very depressed and to have suicidal ideation. I have never been more terrified in my life. As we sought help for him and walked with him through his recovery God showed me many lessons. Today’s reading served to reiterate those lessons – I had to surrender my son to God (which I fought). I had to come to terms with the fact that I am not in control. Any control I thought I had was an illusion. I have to surrender to God all of my control and fears- it was making me sick trying to hold on. My son is now doing well. We found the right help and the right medication to deal with his chemistry. I am still working or heal and learn to trust God…

  • rachel marie

    what complete trust abraham and his beloved son had in our God! abraham knew his faith was in Jehovah Jireh, and that by His perfect provision there would be a sacrifice on that mountain. so often i think of all that the Lord has provided me with – a warm home, food, a job that i love, my big family – and i wonder, if He asked me to, could i give it all up? would i willingly and without hesitation, wake up early and walk towards sacrificing the thing most precious to me, just as abraham did? so challenged this morning by abraham’s almost-sacrifice and by God’s ultimate and complete sacrifice of His one and only Son, lovingly offered up for me. oh, how He loves us!

  • The Tozer quote is profound.

  • margarita

    Abraham’s willingness and obedience to God reminds me how I should live daily. Abraham’s faith and willingness to sacrifice his own son shows helps me to remember God is always present and will never forsake us!! Amen!

  • The open hands with which I receive God’s gifts must stay open. Open to His giving and His taking, because He is God and I am not. Because He foresaw all this before He enacted creation. “Everything I commit to Him is really safe.” My health, my job, my home, my family and relationships, my future, my dreams – everything. All the “my’s” are His.
    Lord, help me to truly lay these down at your feet. I know I will keep picking them back up, but remind me how good it is for me to release the things I can never really keep to gain what I will never lose.

  • This passage has always astounded me. Abraham’s faith is incredible and I think on it as my own sweet son sleeps quietly upstairs. The boy I thought I would never have and was convinced would never come, one that risked my life having and that brings me so much joy each day. There are moments that something he says or an expression he gives, cause my heart to swell with joy. This sweet boy whom I love so greatly. Abraham shared the same joy as did God. Their sons were no different than mine. Would I be so willing to sacrifice even a hair on my son’s head, let alone his life for God. Would I walk away from my family, give up my home, go into dark and unknown places, would I even just give up coffee for my Lord?

    I think back to our move here. We were prepared to move, to leave the city we were in and we had no idea where we were to go, so we waited. My husband interviewed for so many new jobs and the one that came up over and over and over is the one here. Neither he nor I wanted to live in this city, for very very personal reasons. I negotiated with God on a daily basis over it, prayerful that it wasn’t the right one, but with each passing day God held tight and this job was presented in different ways, by different folks over and over. My husband began to see, but I didn’t want to. I begged God to send us another direction and He listened. God suddenly provided an opportunity for a job out west, my prayers were answered and my husband interviewed and was certain he would receive an offer. He told me that if I really wanted him to take that job, he would. He explained his apprehensions and his concerns, but knew I did not want to move to Cincinnati, so he was willing to overlook it all and take this other job. Like a ton of bricks, God spoke truth on my heart and I knew that moving to Ohio was the right choice and conceded. That said, I cried, daily. I cried anytime it would occur to me, I cried cleaning, I cried sleeping, I cried driving, I cried sitting….. I cried. And looking back I see my foolishness. God had always been so good to me, why was I so sad that THIS was what he was asking me to do. It is humbling. In short, there are so many beautiful signs of God gifting me a heart for this city, of bringing me to a place that after 44 years of life I truly feel is “home”. I have loved so many places I’ve lived, but this city is different. Our entire family has agreed it is a feeling like none other and God has been so good to us here. My heart hurt so severely at God just asking me to move, just asking me to trust him. All I needed to do was say “Yes God” and once I did, I still did so with grievance….again humbling.

    Our faith is often pursuant of our own agenda. We can sit in our cozy places, sip our hot drinks and talk about our love of the Lord, but when he is asking us to step out into the cold, into the dark, to leave our comforts behind will we? Will willingly go without question or will we negotiate our way through it? Will we look to our children and our families, our careers and our homes and see the cross? Will we see the blood of Christ, God’s own son, dripping into our happy places, begging us to look up? Will we see the sacrifice, will we be humbled by it enough to sit, empty handed with our backs to our comforts and expectations? Are we willing to know Christ apart from our own ideas of what life should look like and are we willing to accept that our ideas, our vision, may not be reconciled to God’s?

    I am prayerful today, that should God ask me hard questions, I respond with a heart 100% FOR Him. That as I would consider my comforts today; my children, my husband, my job, my luxuries, my coffee … that I appreciate them, love them even, but that I be willing to love God first and that my heart and my actions be an action of it! ~ B

    • Heather Clement

      Challenged by your third paragraph in particular. Thank you. <3

    • Jessica

      Love hearing your story of God’s faithfulness! (Also, I live in Cincinnati! So neat that this community is both so close and global!) =)

    • Miriam

      Thank you B. I needed this today as I am hearing about a job opportunity in a place I have no desire to go but this is the second time it has come up and I was hearing the voice inside me tell me “to trust Him and even if I get it I do not have to take it and again to trust Him.” I have experienced His wonders and caretaking before when He led me to my current place when I thought I wanted to be out West. Not my will but His will, is a mantra I have to keep reminding myself to focus on.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      This was absolutely so powerful B……holy moly. Thank you……
      I wrestled for years with God over my job – I knew He had called me there, but I felt overwhelmed, over stressed and just “done with it”…..I prayed, asked friends to pray with me and for Him to open my eyes to His calling for me. Well, He definitely opened my eyes, and my heart was made right……I move thru my days with joy and love now…..not saying every day is peaces and cream, but I definitely have God’s grace washing over me thru the day, helping me thru some situations that I would definitely not be able to handle “on my own”. Thankful for His hand leading me and guiding me….for restoration of my heart – for moving my attitude from “me” and “my” to Him.

    • Eunice

      As I read today, I thought “I could NEVER harm my child and do what Abraham did.” However, as soon as that thought hit, God said “but this is what I’m calling you to.” I recently took a job with Operation Christmas Child and have to work at a Processing Center 4 hours away from home for 5 weeks. I can go home on Sunday’s to be with my husband and little girls. Because of the call of God, I took this job, and because of the call of God, I had to leave my family for this season. It’s been SO tough, BUT GOD is faithful to provide for each one of us in the family. While my 7 year cries over FaceTime that she can’t hug me today, I have to trust that she will learn to lean into Jesus for comfort when no one else is there. When my husband is exhausted from being the only parent at home right now, I have to believe that God is using this time to build his faith and teach him to lean into God’s strength because his own is not enough. I’m learning to leave God room and watch what greatness He does. But it isn’t usually easy.

  • we are all HIS first. i find comfort in this – HE loves me!

  • What a great quote by Tozer!

  • I love how this passage points so clearly to Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Something else that someone pointed out to me recently is that there is another link in the fact that Abraham and Isaac had a 3 day journey to get to the mountain. Abraham set out, knowing that he was going to have to sacrifice his son, so in his mind Isaac was as good as dead- that was how the story was going to end- but on the third day when God provided the ram to sacrifice it was like Abraham received Isaac back from the dead, just like Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      oh wow! Never made that connection! Thanks Carly!

    • Sherryl

      Thanks for the correlation!

    • Haileyblackmer

      Thank you so much for pointing this out! I complete missed this connection and it was such a big piece in today’s reading! Thanks again Carly B

  • Would I be willing to sacrifice the things I held most dear if the Lord asked me to?
    This is a question I would struggle with…its not a question I could answer straight away or even with the words..’give me a minute..’ I would so struggle with this. ..BIG TIME..
    I have seen God’s amazing grace at work, I am in it every day, I have watched amazed as he has healed, and yet was that not my prayer…I know His love and presence every day, I can tell you, even when I have felt alone, I have known His presence. .I have been, and continue to be a recipient of His provision and favour, I have seen evidence of His saving my friend, who three times, was a target, and yet today he lives, I know the stories, I hear them, I read them, I believe them…I praise and glorify Him for them…and yet…knowing what I know, believing what I believe, holding fast as I do to the One I know is my all…why do I stumble at this question? Why do I struggle?
    I remember a time, not so long ago when my youngest son was thinking about joining the marines. .I told him he couldn’t because he was my son and something bad might happen to him ..Quite rightly his response was …”why should it happen to someone else’s son…”
    What truth that 15 year old boy spoke to me, in that moment. ..I could no more stop him with my words, love, cotton wool I had wrapped around him, if this was his calling…This was his calling!!!
    I am trying to find answers as I write…its a tough one…at my age, moving would be hard..but then as my prayers sometimes involve “Lord please bring me a husband. .” What if he lives miles away…or in another country. ..do I give up that opportunity …or the dream job..I have dreamt of all my life is now mine for the taking, but it means moving away from my beloveds. ..choices are ours to make..Abraham chose to obey God, where Isaacs was concerned. ..that would break my heart, but I think, here’s the thing, God must actually have faith in me to do what he is asking me to do, He is not just testing but believing that the relationship i have with him is real, honest and true, on my part…He is a God of good..A God of promises, a God of plans to prosper, NOT to harm..He is merciful..He is God..and I trust Him….then I have to trust Him toooooo right…
    Definitely one to ponder and pray into today…
    I have waffled. ..sorry..
    Bless you Vivian and thank you …
    God bless and keep you my SRT Sisters…xxx

    • Carly B

      Tina, I agree. I would also struggle to answer that question. I do trust God, but do I trust him that much?
      I love your point that if God is asking us to sacrifice something like that, it is because he has faith that we will do it and it is not so much testing but believing that our relationship with him is real. That makes a lot of sense. God didn’t really need to test Abraham’s faith. He already knew how much faith Abraham had and whether he would obey, so the test must have been for Abraham’s benefit rather than God’s.

    • ~ B ~

      I love this … “God must actually have faith in me to do what he is asking me to do, He is not just testing but believing that the relationship i have with him is real, honest and true, on my part”. I completely understand your feelings regards your son and the military. My sweet 5-year-old as already said from time to time that being a “cool guy”, as he puts it, would be “awesome”…and if this is his lean to, I must be prepared that one day he may say to me as your son did to you and what would be my response? It is humbling to be so ready to yes to his being willing to go into harm’s way, but it’s what we are discussing here, would we be willing to do anything for God? Great questions this morning. Love to you T! Prayerful over you! ~ B

      • Heather (MNmomma)

        “God must actually have faith in me to do what he is asking me to do, He is not just testing but believing that the relationship i have with him is real, honest and true, on my part” – oh man Tina – this was so powerful to me this morning. I am certainly going to be carrying this with me today…..Thank you!!!!! HUGS!!!

    • Shelby

      This was so beautiful and touching to read, Tina. You’ve put into words the turmoil that was striking my heart as I read. Thank you, so much, for taking the time to reveal your testimony and allow us to connect with you in such a way. Your writing has worked wonders this morning. :)

      A big thank-you to Vivian for the Advent writing today, and for asking the difficult questions.

      Much love, Sisters!

    • Lynda

      Tina, I missed a day and am catching up but this was the right day for me to read this. I am sitting here reflecting , searching my heart. Bless you for taking the time to write your thoughts. I’m so thankful for SRT

  • I am not familiar with many stories in the Bible, that is something that I am trying to remedy, so when I started reading today’s story I was a little shocked. I could not believe that God would make Abraham sacrifice his son for him. I was relieved upon finishing the story but then moving on it struck me just how much God gave up when he sacrifices Jesus for us. It’s an overwhelming feeling to think that God loves us that much and it’s something that I forget too often.

    • JJ

      Jesus is most certainly #thetrueandbetterisaac

    • Haileyblackmer

      Tiffany when I read your statement that you aren’t familiar with many biblical stories I was surprised. But then I realized how beautiful your statement is! There is a time in everyone’s walk with Jesus that the bible and its stories aren’t familiar. The beautiful thing about not being familiar is that your knowledge and love for the father can only increase from this moment on! I myself am not even close where I want to be when it comes to remembering biblical stories or specific scripture! Everyone’s walk with Jesus is so different and it’s such a beautiful thing to see!

  • Marianne

    Phew, definitely something to muse on … I was thinking about Isaac´s feelings when he laid there on the altar and watched his father raise the knife. I guess he looked into his father´s eyes. Was Abraham crying? Probably. And then you turned our attention to God offering His Son. Never saw it this way. God´s love to us versus His love to His Only Son. What is our answer?

  • God is calling me to sacrifice myself. My behaviour. Fears. Treasures. Desires. Comfort zone.

  • Juliefay

    I never really thought about how Isaac could have struggled against his dad because he probable was an older boy – not sure where it states how old but he could have struggled and ran – but his faith was also in play as well. Just like Jesus didn’t run! Thank you for not running Jesus!

  • I am always convicted by this part of scripture. It makes me uncomfortable and I wrestle with myself, with my heart, knowing that if I were Abraham I should be so willing and obedient as he was…but not knowing if I could be. On the other hand, it also reminds me to sacrifice material things that are taking up space where God should be. Yes, this part of scripture is definitely hard for me and I pray for His wisdom to bring clarity. Thank you for this today. Blessings!

  • love today’s study- I was thinking as I was reading the passage how Isaac must have been feeling knowing his father was willing to sacrifice his life. then it struck me how Jesus would have felt exactly the same. I am not sure as a mother if I could show that same faith. God is merciful, so much to contemplate this morning

    • Christy

      That has always troubled me to until this morning realizing that it had to be as much Isaac’s faith as Abraham’s and seeing the parallel with Jesus….. Amazing!

      • Lori

        Yes, I agree!! It’s like it really “clicked” in my mind this morning!! AMAZING is exactly right!!

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