2017-09-01 - Abraham's Offering
Originally Published 2007-04-24
Hebrews 11:17a - By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.
This is just a snippet of a single verse in a passage that is often described as the hall of faith. It talks about great men of faith. There are a lot of lessons indeed to learn by studying these men of faith but this snippet, this little crumb, is a meal in itself if we just can learn to sit and savor the words.
I'm not a big wine drinker but I've watched shows where a wine connoisseur opens a bottle of win, sniffs the cork, pours a little into a wine glass then swirls it around smelling it even more. Finally, he takes a sip and swishes it around in his mouth for awhile. Evidently this is the correct way to really enjoy the wine and get the most out of it. Sometimes we need to do the same with the word of God.
Smell the cork of Abraham's faith, swish around in your mind the story of Abraham found in Genesis. Now take in this little sip and swish it around. Savor those last three words - "offered up Isaac". Wait that doesn't taste right? Shouldn't it say "was willing to offer up Isaac"?
I have heard numerous people explain how this verse means to talk about Abraham's willingness. Unfortunately as I've read that passage time and again, I've just read that into it and not thought of the actual words but last night I really got to thinking on this verse. What if this author, through God's inspiration, wrote exactly what he meant? What if the author believed Isaac had been offered to God? What if God, himself, believed Isaac had been offered up?
Now if that's true then that means that God judges us based on the intent of our actions not the end product. If we share our story about Jesus' ability to transform lives as the Messiah with a coworker but botch it up when we're caught off guard by evolution questions, does God think we have witnessed to that person or does he only think we tried? If we volunteer to teach a class and forget a point in a lesson, does God see us as disciplers or just attempted teachers?
Well that must mean God judges our sins based on the thought behind them as well. So if I ask a woman to sleep with me and she says no then I'm still an adulterer? Yep. If I dream of a person I see in a sleazy video and masturbate over my fantasies then have I really had an affair? Yes to that too. That's what God says right there in the red letters found in Matthew 5:28.
So if I think poorly of a coworker who doesn't carry his own weight is that wrong? Yeah. If I feel hatred towards a neighbor who tore up a tool he borrowed and didn't own up to it, is that bad? Umm yeah. What if I never tell anyone about it and hold it in? Still yes. There goes the bright red letters again - hate is murder.
No wonder Paul says to take every thought into captivity. God looks on the inside. OK. Whoa - that is freaking me out. All of this Bible stuff seems to go together. Parts written by different people over thousands of years and it all says the same thing. God measures us by the intentions within our heart and not our actions. That changes everything.
It's not about my performance at all. It's not about the parlor tricks I learn in life. It's all about my purposes. Now, I don't have to wait until I know I can do everything for God just right. I can start right now and if I do it with pure intentions God will recognize my efforts. That even means I can start today to guard my life against sin and God will honor my intentions if I'm sincere. He will still judge the sin but he will know if I'm honestly trying or not.
There is hope.
All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted