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Job 13:13-28

 

"Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may. Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my hand? Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. Keep listening to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears. Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right. Who is there who will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die. Only grant me two things, then I will not hide myself from your face: withdraw your hand far from me, and let not dread of you terrify me. Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me. How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? Will you frighten a driven leaf and pursue dry chaff? or you write bitter things against me and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth. You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths; you set a limit for the soles of my feet. Man wastes away like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten." (ESV)

A Son Spared

Monday of Lent 2

2 March 2015

God sends me trials not to find out if I can stand it, but so that I might find out. He forces me all the more sincerely and completely to trust Him and be confident of His rescue. He tests us so that we more completely crucify the flesh and depend not upon the wisdom of old Adam, but trust Him absolutely and solely. When people abandon the faith for the world or for some faulty, self-centered form of Christianity, I always pray for them and worry about them, because I worry that God will send the Abrahamic suffering to gain their attention (Gn 22:1-19). If we will not permit His chiding by the law on the lips of pastors and parents, we may be forced to accept His chiding of hurricane force, an irresistible bedevilment may blow over us, knocking us to the ground. We may lose what we have loved too much, by loving it more than Him!

 

Abraham's trial was the contradiction of the promise. Here even God becomes His enemy! His ways are deep and incomprehensible. God is our worst enemy. God is our best enemy. He is like the jump instructor pushing first time paratroopers out the door of the plane. "Go! Trust me!" Every fiber of our being rebels against trusting the jump line and the chute. Staying in the plane is no option, even if we don't realize it. At its worst, this desire to stay in the plane becomes a rebellion against the good and gracious will of God and boils over into hatred of God's challenge to our wisdom and piety. In that moment of terror before the looming abyss, under the burdening knowledge of our inadequacy, our whole hope must be in the unchanging and unwavering promise of God.

 

At the edge of the cliff with knife raised Abraham is stopped by His God who reminds him of His promise. With weak-kneed gratitude Abraham turns and is confronted with the ram caught in the thicket. His son would not die, but God had provided the Lamb, as Abraham had said. Yes, Abraham's only son was saved by God. God had bought off the life of Isaac, Abraham's only son according to the promise.

 

In God's deep and inscrutable ways, there was a Son who could not be bought off, but the only begotten Son of the Father offers Himself caught on the thicket of our sins and offered once, for all, substitutes for all of Abraham's sons; for us. In the end, a Father offered His only Son. The Son was sacrificed that the sons might be spared.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Abraham was unable to believe that he was merely being tested (Gn 22:1-19). Otherwise he would have remained sure of the promise and would have thought that God is acting as parents are sometimes in the habit of doing when they tempt their children and take away a treat or something of that sort which they soon return to them. But when God commands that Abraham's son should be taken away, He leaves no hope but simply confronts Abraham with a contradiction. And God, who formerly seemed to be his best friend, now appears to have become an enemy and a tyrant.

 

"Accordingly, Abraham is being more severely tried than Mary when she lost her Son at Jerusalem; for even though she, too, thought that she was being punished for not watching over her Son more carefully, she nevertheless still had the sure hope that He was alive. But here God, who had given the son, commands that the son be killed by the father himself. What hope, then, could the father have? He surely could not have been aware of this, that he was only being tried and that God was not speaking in earnest, just as we buoy ourselves up with the thought that God, even though He seems to be angry, nevertheless does not hate us or is casting us aside but sometimes, as Isaiah (28:21) says, does a strange work and simulates anger, in order to kill the mind of the flesh, which is opposed to God, as Job says: 'Though he slay me, I will hope in him' (Job 13:15); for he is sure that God has something else in mind and is not really angry.

 

"These events are recorded for our comfort, in order that we may learn to rely on the promises we have. I was baptized. Therefore I must maintain that I was translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God."

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 22.2

 

Prayer

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, at Your command, Your faithful servant Abraham took his son, Isaac, and prepared to sacrifice him on a mountain. Yet in Your mercy You provided a ram as a substitute, thus sparing his only son. We give You thanks that on Calvary You spared not Your only Son but sent Him into the world to offer His life as a ransom for many. Amen.

 

For David Porter, that the Lord who gives sight to the blind would heal him through eye surgery

 

For Diann Hull, that she might be strengthened and built up as she deals with the effects of Lupus

 

For Hilda Webber, who has suffered a fall, that she would be granted a full recovery

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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