Like many preachers, I have a process I go through before I step up to preach. Part of that process is a prayer I pray: “God, give me the faith of Abraham, the humility of Moses, the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, the spirit of Elijah, the heart of David, and the love of Jesus.” It’s the first part of that prayer that connects to our study.
Haven’t you wondered why God would ask such a hard thing from Abraham? Just the idea of sacrificing your son is so far from God’s character and the teaching from God’s Word. Add to that what we know about the covenant relationship Abraham had with God. Isaac was the means by which God would keep his unconditional promise to Abraham of making a great nation. Mark Taylor’s article delves into the faith that Abraham had to believe that God had the power to raise the dead—the most critical part of our faith today. And then there is the extreme nature of the request. So why is it here?
We know that this story is full of type and anti-type. As we look at Abraham’s story and compare it to the passion of Jesus, it is saturated with the prophetic. The place is the same, the son is obedient to the father, the son carries wood to the summit, a substitute is provided, blood is shed, and death is swallowed up in the victory of life. Both are stories with happy endings. It’s not hard to see purpose in every part of it.
But I believe there is something deeper in this story than prophetic illustration. Abraham is called the friend of God, once by God himself (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). With that in mind, I see God communicating with Abraham on a deeper level than in any other relationship aside from with Jesus himself. Since we have our emotions as God created them out of his own image, I hear God expressing himself to his friend on emotional terms, enabling Abraham to feel what God would feel more than 2,000 years into the future. It was father to father and only son to only son with a love that others would not understand.
By faith, I can hear God saying to Abraham, “You are my friend and I want you to understand what I understand, I want you to feel what I feel. I have been and always will be here for you Abraham, but there will come a day when my Son will walk up this same mountain. He will be carrying wood on his back, and he will be the sacrifice. But on that day, there will be no one to take his place, no one to stop the execution. He will die on this mountain, his blood will stain it, and his blood will atone for your sins, Abraham, because you’re my friend.”
I believe Abraham understood God on a deeper level than anyone because their relationship was forged in the fire of personal suffering and pain. There are insights here into what a faith relationship is that go beyond any expression of words. As you spend time with God’s Word and explore the aspects of faith in your life, try to see the emotions underneath the words, and understand that an intimate personal relationship is what God offers us through Jesus Christ.