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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, February 2, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Genesis 22:1–18    

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He 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 that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”(NRSV)

As a person who never jogs when it’s drizzling because I’m too preoccupied with saving the earthworms I see writhing on the sidewalk, how can I write authentically on what God asked Abraham to do when it’s unfathomable to me? To any of us? 

The New Revised Standard Version of this scripture passage begins with “After these things God tested Abraham.”

Also noteworthy is that Abraham says the words “Here I am” three times: once to God, once to his son Isaac, and once to the angel of the Lord. Abraham is mindfully present. 

I can’t pretend that I would pass this test if God requested it of me. However, if this scripture passage is viewed allegorically, then perhaps God is asking for our radical willingness to put God first in our lives? 

Abraham’s absolute faith in God enables his utmost obedience to God’s will, even when God asks for Isaac’s life. Abraham’s willingness brings God’s abundant blessings upon him and his descendants. 

As the season of Lent approaches, Christians contemplate God’s unfathomable sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, whose life epitomized complete trust in and obedience to God's will. 

What can I do? I will practice (imperfectly, no doubt) “radical willingness” to receive God’s acting in and upon my life. I will strive to put God first. I may be fearful, I may doubt myself, but I intend to be present for God! 

Holy God, you see each of your children as precious beings, unique and full of potential. Grant me faithful willingness, and meet me where I am, so I can receive your purposeful loving intention for my life. Thank you for the gift of salvation, which your perfect Son Jesus won for humankind through his crucifixion. Amen. 

Written by Holly O’ Mara, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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