Living Sacrifices To God
What do you suppose went through the mind of the young man, Isaac, immediately following his Moriah experience with his father Abraham? I don’t know how old Isaac was when all that happened, but he was old enough to carry a load of wood for a burnt offering up a mountain. And, he was old enough to reason with his father, “Here is the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb for the offering?” Well, you remember the story, don’t you (check out Genesis, chapter twenty-two)? As he lay bound upon the wood of the altar, the harsh reality dawned upon him…his father intended to kill him and burn his body as a sacrifice to God!!! Abraham had responded to Isaac’s question by saying, “God Himself will provide the lamb.” Now he realizes that he is to be that lamb! And then, Abraham stretches out his hand to take the knife for offering Isaac. But God’s angel stops Abraham. Isaac is spared. A ram is discovered, caught by his horns in a thicket. The animal takes Isaac’s place and becomes the sacrifice.
What would that experience communicate to young Isaac? He knew that he was beloved of his father. And yet his father was prepared to kill him at God’s command. Surely that would indicate to Isaac that love and devotion to God must come first, above all other loves and allegiances. Wouldn’t this have caused Isaac to look at his father’s faith differently? No wonder Abraham is referred to as the father of the faithful. Isaac saw this truth up close and personally.
And at some point, and for some amount of time, Isaac believed he was going to die. But God prevented his death and provided a substitute sacrifice. Wouldn’t this have caused Isaac to view his own life differently? In a manner of speaking, Isaac received his life back again from God. Don’t you think this would have caused him to consider thoughts like this…since God gave me my life back, shouldn’t I live in gratitude and in honor to Him? And he proceeded to do just that.
I can’t help but believe the story of Moriah was in Paul’s mind as he wrote Romans 12:1-2. In that place Paul instructs Christians (actually, he begs them) to offer themselves as living sacrifices to God. You see, our sinfulness carried with it a requirement. Sins incur the punishment of death (Romans 6:23). But God provided for Himself a Lamb…a pure, spotless, innocent Lamb…a Lamb to take our place that we might live. And that’s how Jesus Christ came to die upon the cross to atone for the sins of the entire world, in every generation, from the dawn of humanity until the end of time. And ever since we learned the story of how He did that, we’ve felt the debt of love we owe and can never repay (no matter how hard we try-though such amazing love compels us to work for Him). The Scripture says this, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him Who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
So, today, and everyday, love your family, do your job, help your friends, seek your God and live your life as a living sacrifice to God which is, after all, what you are. Pay attention to the Message Version of Romans 12:1… “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.”