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Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

Session 5: Abraham’s Example

God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans, a land of paganism, out of the land of his fathers, and sent him to a strange place. Abraham, his wife and his nephew left and went to this strange land, where, in the providence of God, Abram and his wife prospered enormously so that he became one of the wealthiest men on the face of the earth. One on occasion, God visited Abram.

(Genesis 15:1-6) “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O LORD GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

Abram had his doubts, but he had a son when he was 100 years old, and so the promised child came through whom the whole world would be blessed. As the child grew, Abraham’s pride for his son grew also. But then the worst possible nightmare came when God gave Abraham the instruction to sacrifice his son on a mountain at Moriah (Genesis 22:1-2). Putting Abraham to the test, Abraham was forced to prepare to sacrifice his only son whom he loved, on an altar as a burnt offering.

During Jesus’ infancy, when the prophecy was made that a sword would pierce the soul of His mother (Luke 2:34-35), so here, the sword of God pierced the soul of Abraham. God commanded one of His servants to violate the sanctity of life, to offer his own child as a sacrifice — what Abraham undoubtedly saw as a pagan ritual.

(Genesis 22:3) “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”

Dr. Sproul noted that there is an economy of words that the Holy Spirit used in the inspired Scripture. “We never get the whole story, just the salient highlights of the story, in brief, terse, economic terms. And since there are so few details given in narratives like this, you wonder about the significance of every tiny detail. So I’ve mused over this for decades and asked myself this question, ‘Why does the Spirit of God, in the superintendence of Sacred Scripture include in this text the detail that Abraham rose up early in the morning? Who cares what time it was when he got up?” Dr. Sproul said. “Did he always get up early in the morning? Was this a special day? It was a day that he was going to set out on a journey that would end with the death of his son.”

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