April 8, 2017

Is faith irrational?

Faith is tested when circumstances put the question to me: “Am I going to trust God in this? Or am I going to trust my intellect and take matters into my own hands?” I’ve too many examples to single out any one of them. However, the Bible tells of one test that is beyond anything I will ever experience.

The story is familiar and my questions are many. First, the story . . .
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
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. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”
So they went both of them together. 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 will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:1–14)
It seems to me the first test is believing that God would ask such a thing. Elsewhere in the Bible, He strictly forbids sacrificing children to any god. He also forbids murder. How could He ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, to actually kill him?

I’m also thinking Isaac had to have a great deal of faith, if not in God then in his dad. He was not an ignorant lad, and not only that, what was going through his mind when this man whom he trusted tied him on top of the wood and then raised a knife? There is no record that he screamed in protest!

How did Abraham know that God would provide a sacrifice? Even deeper, how did he know that God was speaking to him, first to ask him to do this, then to tell him to stop and not kill his son? And what makes him different than the kooks in books and television shows that perform rituals like this in the name of “God told me” when obviously they are out of their minds? Again, why would God test faith by asking Abraham to do something that He had forbidden?

Elsewhere, Abraham is spoken of as the father of faith, and all who believe in Jesus Christ are called his offspring. James 2:23 says that “the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’ — and he was called a friend of God.” This man was not a nut case!

Jesus, I know these questions will be answered someday. I also know that You ask me to walk in faith. You have asked me to do things that don’t make sense at the time, but later show me the wisdom behind them. None of this is about rationale or about ‘hearing voices’ that bring out sinful responses. All of it reveals to me that walking with You means paying attention, knowing Your voice, willing obedience, and no worries about the outcome as long as I am certain about what I am hearing. I know what You tell me is Your will. How do I know? You said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me . . . .” Keep me alert and obedient, even when what You ask may not make sense.

No comments: