St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Scripture: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered Isaac. This man, who received the promises, was ready to offer his only son, about whom it was said, “Through Isaac your offspring will be traced.” – Hebrews 11:17-18

Reason tells us that God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son was a foolish command, and Abraham would be foolish to follow it. Afterall, did not God promise Abraham that he would be the father of many nations through the children of Isaac — who was but a teenager at the time and had no wife? Reason can only see this as utter foolishness and a ridiculous command indeed.

Yet what did Abraham do? He shuttered his senses, silenced his inner voice of reason and obeyed God’s voice and did as God commanded.

Abraham proved his faith and his obedience from the heart. Otherwise, it would not have mattered if Abraham sacrificed his son a million times, God would not have cared. But God was pleased because Abraham’s obedience and faith came from the heart and from a true love toward God. Abraham was so sure in God’s promise, so completely dependent on God’s Word and mercy, that he believed God, even if his son should die, that God would find a way to fulfill His promise regardless.

There was a time in Jewish history where, to imitate Abraham, they sacrificed their children to God with the hope of pleasing Him. How wrong they were, and how horrible it was that so many beautiful children died! Even the prophets who preached against this act were themselves murdered and beaten. You can read about this in 1st and 2nd Kings.

This…service…was displeasing to God because it wasn’t from the heart, and it wasn’t done out of love for God. The Jews did it because they thought they could earn favor — nothing more. But to please God, there must first be love in the heart, a love that is born of faith, and then whatever service is done from love is pleasing to God. We would do well to learn the same lesson in the churches. Our Lord calls us to right repentance, a repentance from faith, and a firm trust in Christ and His mercy, and this leads us to works of love for God and for the neighbor. But where there is no faith, even the good we think we do is filthy and unworthy to God.