Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

Here was the man who had the most passionate dedication to God of any man at that time in history. He was so obedient, so willing to sacrifice anything that was precious to him for the sake of the Word of God, that he complied with God’s demand to take his own son’s life. Did Abraham get up early to rapidly and efficiently do exactly what God commanded?

“I have friends who are absolutely convinced that’s the reason Abraham got up early: to report early for duty. I don’t believe it for a second,” Dr. Sproul said. “Abraham was a human being, not a paper saint. I don’t care how much faith he had, if God asked him to do this, it had to shake him to the bottom of the core of his being. I think the reason why Abraham got up early in the morning is because he didn’t sleep a wink all night. I believe he was tossing and turning on that bed saying, ‘How can this be? Am I being deceived? Was that really God? He can’t, and he promised that I’d be the father of a great nation, and the one through whom that promise is going to come to pass is Isaac. If we do away with Isaac, the whole covenant promise dies with Isaac.”

Abraham and Isaac, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1647
Abraham and Isaac, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1647

(Genesis 22:9-14) “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter 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, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The LORD [Yahweh Yireh] will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.'”

Two thousand years after this episode on Mount Moriah, on a small mount outside Jerusalem, is a place called Golgotha. It was there, in the same spot, God took his Son, his only Son, the Son whom he loved, Jesus, and placed him on an altar. But this time, there was no substitute for him. He was the Lamb. Jehovah-Jireh, the God Who provides, had provided.

Elsewhere, Dr. Sproul has written, “I remember the story of a distraught father who was deeply grieved by the death of his son. He went to see his pastor, and in his bewildered anger he asked, ‘Where was God when my son died?’ The pastor replied with a calm spirit, ‘The same place He was when His Son died.'”

Because of Christ, our suffering is not useless. It is part of the total plan of God, who has chosen to redeem the world through the pathway of suffering. Abraham persevered and patiently waited, then obtained the promise, realized in his own progeny, Jesus (Hebrews 6:15). There’s a reason why Abraham’s called ‘the father of the faithful’ [Galatians 3:16-29, Romans 4:11] because all who are of the faith must be prepared on any given day to go to Mount Moriah.

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church history, justification, perseverance, Reformation, systematic theology, travelogue