(Genesis 22:1-19) In the Christian life, faithful obedience is the foundation of genuine integrity. And in the words of Dr. David Jeremiah, “Integrity is keeping my commitments even if the circumstances when I made the commitments have changed.” Donald Wildmon sums up Christian faithfulness this way, “At the very heart of the Christian gospel is a cross—the symbol of suffering and sacrifice, of hurt and pain and humiliation and rejection. I want no part of the Christian message which does not call me to involvement, requires of me no sacrifice, takes from me no comfort, requires of me less than the best I have to give. The duty of a Christian is to be faithful, not popular or successful.”
In Genesis 22 we see that faithful obedience will enable you to go when you don’t know where you are going (Genesis 22:1-4). God gives Abraham a command, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2). Abraham’s immediate response is faithful obedience, “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3). God said go and I will tell you exactly where you are going when you get there.
We also see that faithful obedience will enable you to do when you don’t know how (Genesis 22:5-8). Next Abraham is faced with the task of offering a sacrifice with no lamb, “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, my father: and he said, here am I, my son. And he said, behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Abraham’s response once again is faithful obedience, “And Abraham said, my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8). How could a father face such a time as this? I am reminded of the story of David Kraft.
His father was a pastor, a godly pastor in the South Bay. David Kraft grew up with a father who constantly remembered God’s faithfulness in the past so that David might trust in God in all of his tomorrows. David grew up in love with Jesus, and he felt the call of God into the pastoral ministry. He went to Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary. David was a big, athletic young man. At the age of 32, he was six feet two inches tall and weighed two hundred pounds. He worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That dear young man was diagnosed as having cancer. It wracked his body, and, over a period of time, he dropped from two hundred pounds in weight to eighty pounds. When he was about ready to pass from this life into eternity, he asked his father to come into his hospital room. Lying there in the bed, he looked up and said, “Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy, how you used to just hold me in your arms close to your chest?” David’s father nodded. Then David said, “Do you think, Dad, you could do that one more time? One last time?” Again his father nodded. He bent down to pick up his 32-year-old six-foot two-inch, eighty-pound son, and held him close to his chest so the son’s face was right next to the father’s face. They were eyeball to eyeball. Tears were streaming down both faces. The son said
simply to the father, “Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this.”
Finally we see that faithful obedience will enable you to wait when you don’t know how long (Genesis 22:9-13). Abraham is still faithfully waiting for God to supply a lamb for the sacrifice, “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:9-10). Abraham is still faithfully obeying God and waiting with patience. And God does not disappoint him, “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, here am I. And he said, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Genesis 22:11-13). It is quite amazing that this sacrifice God provides is caught in a thicket, literally wearing a crown of thorns the same way God’s Son Jesus Christ would do some four thousand years later as He was sacrificed as the True Lamb of God.
Would you go for God if you didn’t know where you were going? Would you attempt to do something God told you to do if you didn’t know how? Would you wait upon God to fulfill His promise to you if you didn’t know how long the wait would be? Would you accept the full blessing of God if it wasn’t what you wanted? Me we be challenged to faithfully obey God and see how He then accomplishes His purpose through us. To God be the glory.
Dr. Bill Helton is a professor at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville.