52 Weeks at the Table – Week 6
It was a hideously unreasonable request. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his one-and-only son – Ishmael having been banished from the family – as a burnt offering. This was the son born to him in his hundredth year by the Lord’s own promise. Scripture does not record God asking anyone to offer anything before; the altars seem to have been built and the sacrifices offered by freewill and in gratitude. After a three-day journey with the boy Isaac, his father’s answer to the boy’s natural question was prophecy: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Yet God tested Abraham all the way to the moment that he took out the knife to slay his child. God’s angel called out to halt the sacrifice, passing over this precious son. Then God provided a ram caught by its horns, and a blessing of an incalculable descendency through whom all nations would be blessed.
Hebrews 11 says that “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” Galatians 3 urges us to “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Surely it is next to impossible to reason and believe in such measure, while holding your son’s life in your hands. Yet that is what God asked of Abraham. And that is what God himself did: He believed in us enough to reason that it was worth sacrificing His own Son on our behalf. So, within us, God kindles the desire to sacrifice our lives; our selves – to Him.
Because He would never ask anyone to do what He was not willing to do Himself.
A Prayer Over the Bread
Father God, we praise Your name because You truly have blessed all nations of the earth through the sacrifice of Your Son. As we meditate on this bread, we cannot help but picture You, hovering over His body, like Abraham over Isaac, deciding that we were somehow worth what had to be done to credit Christ’s righteousness to us. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for this bread, His body. Help us in the moment we share it to sacrifice self and become more like the One who bears this request to You. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
God of supreme mercy and justice, we pause before consuming this cup and remember the blood of Jesus, spilled by fist and thorn and whip and nail and sword, for us who believe. We are overwhelmed by the passion of what You ask us to believe. We want to be able to reason out this unreasonable passion, but it is incalculable. We want to be able to believe Your incredible faith in our worth, but it’s virtually impossible for us. We want to have the faith of Abraham, but we are not him. Help our unbelief, we beg through Jesus: Amen.