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Gen 22:1-2  Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" ​"Here I am," he replied. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
Abraham is called the Father of the Faithful because he had a faith that was a living faith and a tested faith. Our faith is proven by the relation with God and the obedience we have. There is a false faith and there is a true faith. True faith is not one that merely demands the benefits from God, it is one of submission & love which yields to God's demands. True faith gives our entire being to the Lord - our full obedience, our possessions, our emotions, our time and even (in this case), our own son. One of the great trials of faith is when God places great demands on us. As we meditate on Abraham's faith, let's pray that the word of God imparts this same faith to us. (Rom 10:17)

The greatest demand
Your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love .. Gen 22:2
Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father God (James 1:17) and so it was with Isaac. A miracle baby who came to this blessed family after a long wait, yea, even many years after their bodies had become unable to produce a heir. In Gen 21:6, we learn that Isaac was named laughter, because he indeed became their joy. Over a period of time, God saw that it was time to test Abraham with regarding Isaac, because God cares about what holds our affection. We need to inspect our own hearts to see if there is anything in our lives which we hold more precious than God (Even nearly so!). It may be our family, children, job, even ministry. If so, it's time to mentally place it on His altar.
And when God demands Abraham's sacrifice, He specifies 3 times - Your son, your only son, whom you love! It may be easy for us to give our money or something which we don't hold so dear. But when it comes to the delight of our heart, are we willing to place it on the altar of God? Remember, it is He who gave us all these things in the first place.

The faith that goes at a command
Go to the region of Moriah - Gen 22:2
Obedience to God is shown in small and subtle ways. There is a lukewarm way to obey Him and there is a zealous way! There is a difference between merely obeying His commandments and delighting to obey His commandments (Psa 40:8). While the task before him was unpleasant, yet, look at the zeal of this man of God. He wakes up early next morning and got up and saddled his donkey. He took 2 servants and Isaac and he himself cut the wood for laying Isaac. Such a precious task cannot be entrusted to mere servants. The disciple of Jesus is one who pays the price of Discipleship. There is something costly about Abraham's offering. It's not a half-hearted sacrifice - it is loving God with all your heart, and your soul and your strength. Can you imagine the pride and joy that wells up in our Lord's heart when He sees His dear child joyfully zealously fulfilling his demands ?
In all this, Abraham doesn't pause to consult with his wife. There is no place for human emotions while performing God's will. Because of her tender and genuine love for Isaac, Sarah is not going to aid Abraham in this sacrifice. If anything, her desperate love for her son will be a hindrance to the sacrifice. Like Paul says: I conferred not with flesh and blood. (Gal 1:16-17). This is why James says: faith without works is dead. (James 2:17). Abraham's actions were proof that he had faith. He climbs the mountain, builds the altar and lays the wood in order and binds the son to the altar.

The Word of Faith
We will worship and then we will come back to you - Gen 22:6
As Abraham climbs the peak of Moriah, he leaves his servants behind. These are times that you must gird up the loins of the mind and leave many things behind (the donkeys and the servants) to go and worship the Lord. Here is a key - Abraham perceived this sacrifice as worship to the Lord. He viewed it as reverential - giving God what he demands and what is due to Him.
Look at the words of faith that come forth from this patriarch. 'We will worship and then we'll come back to you.' At this point, I believe Abraham remembered the covenant that God gave him. (Gen 17:19 - where he promises the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham and in Gen 17:21, He names Isaac as the partaker of the covenant blessing.) So long as that covenant is there, Abraham realized that even if he had to kill Isaac, The Lord is able and faithful to restore Isaac (Heb 11:17-19) because the Lord doesn't alter the word that has proceeded from his mouth! And faith in his heart overflowed and became the word of faith in his mouth- “We will come back”!
And when Isaac asks him about the sacrifice animal, Abraham says: the Lord will provide. Oh for a faith that doesn't crumble even at the highest pressure of testing, or in the last hour!!

The obedience of Faith
While focusing on the faith of Abraham, It would be sad if we missed out to observe the submission and obedience of the young man Isaac. One who could easily overpower the old father - Yet, he chose to be fully submissive. He chose death to himself. He chose the will of his father. In this, I see a clear pattern. One who was submissive to God sets forth a blessed example which his generations would want to imitate.

Secret of faith - fear of God
Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son - Gen 22:12
The climax of the story is the proven faith - a hand that is lifted upon the sacrifice, a heart that is ready to do His will. And at the moment comes the Word of God to stop! And the Lord gives a certificate to Abraham. Now I know you fear God because you didn't withhold the son from me. What is the Lord's testimony regarding us ? We talk the talk. But may the Lord give us a faith to walk the talk.

Jehovah Jireh
So Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided" Gen 22:14
On that day on Mount moriah, there was a ram that was caught in the thicket and it was provided by God as a substitute for Isaac. The whole episode was a test for Abraham's faith. There was no use for humanity if Isaac is sacrificed. God's provision was given to bring Isaac back from death. Yet, this serves as a powerful foreshadow of the redemption plan of God for mankind. (Instead of Abraham, consider God the Father. Instead of Isaac, consider Jesus) Travel a few centuries down and see God sending His son Jesus to the earth - as the Lamb of God who take away the sin of the world. He Himself had given Jesus - His son, His only son, whom He loved. John 3:16reminds us of this truth. Rev 13:8 says: Jesus was the lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. The only difference was, Jesus had to die to bear our sin and to bear the punishment for our sin. Isa 53 says: the chastisement for our peace was upon him. and by His stripes, we are healed. For all the above stages of Abraham's life, there is a corresponding parallel from Jesus' life. Indeed on the mount Calvary, the Lord provided a fountain of life for us for our cleansing. and because of the love of our God and obedience of our Lord Jesus, we are redeemed from death to eternal life.

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2 Ki 18:7a  And the LORD was with him [Hezekiah]; he was successful in whatever he undertook.

In the last message we looked at Peter's life to learn God's plan for us in the face of our failures. Today, let's look at the next trial of our faith. Success.

In some candid discussions with many true men of God, I have come to the conclusion that Success is a more difficult trial of faith than failure. The danger of going through failure is that you may fall prey to unbelief and become bitter towards God. It may happen to a few people, but the common response for failure is that it drives us back towards God. What is the usual result of success ? The normal believer tends to become proud, his heart is lifted up and he forgets the God who gave him the success in the first place. It takes a very tender heart to maintain that humility before God and give Him the glory for any success which He has granted us. Let's look at the example from the life of King Hezekiah.

The Lord was with him
The name Hezekiah means "Yahweh is my Strength". True to his name, the Lord did mighty things through this wonderful king. If you read from 2 Kings 18:3-8, we note the following things about his blessed reign.
1.      2 Ki 18:3 - He did right in the eyes of the Lord (as David)
2.      2 Ki 18:4 - he eradicated idolatry in all known forms, even destroying the bronze serpent which had existed as an idol for nearly 1000 years!
3.      2Ki 18:5 - He trusted the Lord and the word of God declares him to be a king unlike any other before or after him.
4.      2 Ki 18:6 - He held fast to the Lord and didn't cease to follow Him. He kept the commandments of the Lord
5.      2 Ki 18:7 - The Lord was with Him and therefore, he was successful in all his endeavors.
6.      2 Ki 18:8 - He didn't bow down before the Syrian kings and defeated philistines across their borders.

A man whom the Lord honors and protects!
Truly, he was one of the best kings to grace the throne of Israel. There is a touching account of the King of Syria threatening to annihilate Israel. 2 Chr 32:1 (read from v1 to v19) Hezekiah prayed to the Lord (2 Chr 32:20) and the Lord sent an angel which consumed 185,000 soldiers of Syria (2Chr 32:21). I especially loved the Word of God which says 2 Chr 32:22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.
If we have any doubt concerning this, the Lord says: it is He who delivered the nation. Not the might of armies or the wisdom of a king. But the end result of this deliverance was that the fame of Hezekiah spread far and wide and many came to him with precious gifts and he was highly regarded by all nations. (2 Chr 32:23)

The beginning of the end - Pride
Alas, the result of such fame was a falling away. 2 Chr 32:25 says: But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.
The result of that wrath was an illness which came to the King and he was near death. he prayed to the Lord and the lord answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. (Read 2 Ki 20:1-11) And he repented of the pride in his heart (2 Chr 32:26) and the Lord's wrath didn't appear to them in that generation. But the result of this prayer was an increase of his life by 15 years. That led him to commit even more mistakes in his later years and he also fathered Manasseh. (If you read 2 Chr 33:1-11, you can see the amount of evil that this young king heaped on himself and israel) While Hezekiah accomplished much in the secular realm in the added years(2 Chr 32:27-30), we see the steady decline of his spiritual life as the end comes.

The end - God leaves him to test his heart
2 Chr 32:31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.
When God leaves us to test us, he expects us to rely on what He has taught us in the past. He expects us to use the wisdom and unction that He deposited in us prior to the test. It is for us to understand the contents of our heart more clearly. 2 Ki 20:13 says - he exposed every little bit of his kingdom to the envoys of the enemy as a result of his pride and that mistake was instrumental in the nation being carried away to Babylon at a later point in time.

What is our lesson from this ?
Do I write all this to diss a godly king ? Am I magnifying his mistakes ? Am I trying to erase the good he has done by focusing on his mistakes ? Not at all! I believe all scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for our instruction, correction and reproof. It is good for us to take valuable lessons from all these scriptures because we are near the end times. (1 Cor 10:11). Where Hezekiah pleased God, let us desire to imitate his life. Where he fell short of the glory of God, let us take it as a precious example to guard against. Remember, if a spiritual giant like he could fall, so could we! Am I against success ? Not at all! I desire success and I believe it is the plan of God for all his disciples to enjoy success. That's why the precious promises are given to the victors (7 letters of revelation + Rev 21:7). But in our successes that we enjoy, do not forget to attribute glory and honor and praise and thanksgiving to the One who made it possible for us. As Jesus said - Without me, you can do nothing! My prayer is that however well we have begun our spiritual race, God give us the grace to fight the good fight, finish our race and keep the faith and to appropriate the eternal rewards kept for us(2 Tim 4:7)

Further reading : 1 Chr 28:9 & Deut 8:2
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