God Knows, We Obey!
All have sinned. It is our nature to sin; we are born with it. The first sin which brought about this nature for us all can be compared to many things, but the closest comparison is the desire to be God. To reject the one true God and become our own god is still the greatest temptation of our fallen human race to this day. To be God, we must know, for God knows all. The serpent suggests that we can know, that we should know, that we can be God, and like our first parents, we believe him. Adam and Eve were not tempted primarily by fruit. They had all the fruit they could possibly want. No, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in order to know what God knows, in order to become gods themselves. Unfortunately, for them and all their descendants, this suggestion from the evil one was and is false. Instead of becoming God, they separated themselves from the God who loves us. Interestingly enough, the one who did know, God, had told them exactly what they needed to know. If you eat the fruit of that tree, on that day you will surely die. Indeed God is life, and separation from him is death.
This brings us to our recent discussions in Bible class on Abraham. His faithfulness is our example to help us combat this deeply rooted sin that infects us all. The sin of needing to know!—of wanting to be God! Before we go any further, it is important to clarify that knowledge is not a sin. We are called, even commanded, to know many things. All of creation, the Church, and the Scriptures were given to us that we may know and love God and serve him faithfully. We are made in His image, and as such, we have this ability to know many things. However, the problem comes when we desire to know what God himself knows and are not satisfied with knowing what he has given us to know.
In Genesis 22, Abraham was given a command, an unbelievable command—a test. God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” You may know the story but just consider the complexity of this command for a moment. … Abraham has waited 30 years for the promised son from the Lord. He has gone through numerous struggles with Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael. Although this is an extremely unique command, it is also incredibly arduous. Forget about the difficulty of obeying for a second; I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it would be to understand the command, to know what God really intended, or why. How could I ever obey it? This is not an issue for Abraham. Not only does he immediately prepare everything for killing his son, but then God takes him on a three-day journey to get to where he has to make the sacrifice. Again, I find this extremely hard to imagine. I don’t like to think about difficult tasks even for a short time, but three days to ponder the task of killing your beloved child? Our nature would find it horribly unbearable not to understand what was going on, what would happen in the end, or why it was happening. However, Abraham seems to be fully prepared to do just that.
As Abraham is taking Isaac up the mountain, we get the first glimpse of his faith. Isaac said, “My Father! Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Keep in mind that in just a moment Abraham will be building an altar, binding Isaac up, placing him on the wood of the altar, and as the scripture says, “reaching out his hand and taking the knife to slaughter his son.” Yet, Abraham responds, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son,” and is ultimately unknowing of how God will make this provision. Herein lies the struggle. It would be much easier to step out in faith if we just knew how God was going to provide.
How then can Abraham sacrifice his son? The answer is that he doesn’t need to know what God knows. He only needs to know what God has told him and do it. The scriptures make it clear that Abraham knew Isaac was the promised son; that he must obey the God of all creation; and that his God could raise the dead, and he believed it. God, of course, not only provided by sparing Isaac and sending a sacrifice, but he proclaimed, “now, I know that you fear God seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.” Abraham did not need to know what God knew. Abraham did not have to be God. He simply had to obey God. God gives us what we need to know; we just think we should know more. God knows and commands. We trust and obey.
Written by Eric Van Gorden