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Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Christmas wreath
The Christmas wreath in front of our home.

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"Instead Of"

"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son" (Genesis 22:13).

Can you recall a time in your life when you were called to obey in a way that just didn't make sense at all. This may have been an act of obedience to human authority or to God. As I am looking out of our office window I see leaves flying by as the winds must be 40 MPH which reminds me of such a time in my young life.  As a twelve year old I recall my dad having me rake the leaves in front of our house even while the wind was blowing and it seemed so futile. To this day I sadly recall the disrespectful mutterings I made concerning my Dad.

Abraham's great test of obedience is so powerfully instructive and a wonderful spiritual preparation as we consider the rich meaning of Christmas.  After waiting so long for the son of God's promise Abraham was asked to sacrifice this very son.  Apart from the lessons of faith and obedience he learned from this ordeal I find a remarkable typological lesson for all of Abraham's children.

At the point of today's verse Abraham had dutifully obeyed God in taking his son Isaac up on the mountain at God's command. He was at the point of sacrifice, with his son bound, as he took the knife to slay Isaac.  There's no indication at all that he was not prepared to follow through.

But an angel of the Lord intervened and called out from heaven, "Abraham!  Abraham!...Do not lay a hand on the boy.  Do not do anything to him." Never were sweeter or more welcomed words spoken! Abraham had passed the test.  At this point, "Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son." 

RamA ram is a male sheep.  At just the right time God had provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac.  I marvel at the words "instead of" in the text.  That's the heart of the gospel!  And that ram is a powerful type of Christ who some 1,900 years later would be provided and die instead of us. 

Consider the message of Christmas found in Romans 5:8.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Indeed Christ died for us!  He was provided as a sacrifice instead of us.  Let us fully commit our lives to Him today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  At just the right time, while we were still powerless and dead in our trespasses, He died for us.  Through His sacrificial death we are reconciled to You, our loving Father.  Just as many in the human race died by the trespass of one man, Adam, how much more has Your grace overflowed, through the one man, Jesus Christ, so that we live in abundance.  Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace reigns through righteousness so that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  I'm so glad You're an on-time God sending Your Son, Jesus, at just the right time to save us from our sins and eternal separation from You.  In the loving name of Jesus, I thank You.  Amen.

(Inspired by Romans 5)

Note from Brooksyne: A couple years ago I shared from Genesis 22:1-18 about Abraham's Testing with a congregation in York County.  As I was studying this very brief but vital portion of Scripture I considered the things that had to be going through Abraham's mind after God told him to take his son, whom he loved, and offer him as a burnt offering.  The first thing that came to mind was the possible thought, "What am I going to tell Sarah when I return home alone?  How could she possibly think I heard this deadly order from You, God?  Will she ever speak to me again?"  I have little doubt that this sort of dialogue crossed his mind, so in reality he was not only offering the sacrifice of his son, but also the very possible sacrifice of his marriage in his desire to obey God.  This marvelous example from Scripture is truly an inspiration when I am reluctant to obey God when the stakes are personally high for me.

Suggested Music

"Wonderful Cross"

"Your Love, O Lord"  (Audio)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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