"This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me." Genesis 22:16-18
I read this passage recently and was sobered. I'm afraid so often we take Jesus as an add on in our lives, I've certainly seen it happen in faith communities and on occasion in my own life. But God will have none of that. He's all or nothing. He goes for the heart, he doesn't mess around.
God demands first place in our affections, our thoughts, our imagination. And he should. Nothing in our life is safe from the altar. But look what happens at obedience. Blessing rained down. And not temporal worldly blessing either, which we are so easily distracted by. No, it's an eternal, sweeping, generational blessing.
I don't know about you but I want the fruit of my life to multiply "beyond number" I want to conquer the enemy and be a blessing to the nations. All because I've obeyed.
Do you see the connection here between personal obedience and communal blessing. It's humbling and inspiring. When I obey, God blesses me so that you, my family, my church, my neighbors, Serbia can be blessed. When you obey, God blesses you so that your family, church, and community can be blessed. Amazing!
What would have happened had Abraham turned down God's request of complete faithfulness and obedience? I mean who would have blamed him if he had said, 'you know God when you asked me to leave home I followed, when you asked me to trust you to provide a son I did, I've obeyed you. But now you're taking things too far. We all know killing is wrong and this is my son, so don't even think about it.'
If Abraham had declined to obey, God would have let him. But then we wouldn't consider Abraham the father of the Jewish people or a hero of faith. God would have raised someone else up to bless and be a blessing, he always accomplishes his plan. But Abraham would have missed out.
What about us. Will we decline to obey? Or will we allow obedience to unlock blessing in our own lives and the lives of those around us, even into future generations. I've found the longer I trust Jesus the crazier his requests for obedience seem to become.
How did Abraham obey such an outlandish request from God? How can we? It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises... reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. (Hebrews 11)
Our obedience rests firmly on the foundation of God's faithfulness to his promises. Do you believe God is faithful, are you willing to find out?