Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"Pictures of Redemption ..."

Day #6

Scripture Reading:  Genesis 20 - 23 ...

Those who believe in Jesus Christ should read Genesis regularly as a reminder of how we got from Abraham to Jesus to the Church to today.  God had chosen and called Abraham and promised that he and his wife, Sarah, would have a son in their old age.  God made His Covenant of Grace with Abraham and His descendants, choosing the son born to Abraham and Sarah, who was named Isaac, as He had promised.  It would be through Isaac that the promised “Seed” of Abraham would come, and the promises of the covenant would be passed through Isaac and his descendants.

Moses, the author of Genesis, now recounts stories of Abraham and Sarah, even pointing out Sarah's death and WHERE she was buried ... in the land that would belong to the descendants of Abraham ... more than 4,000 years later - TODAY!!!  The people around Abraham recognized that God was with him and sought his favor.  Even in a foreign land the presence and power of “Abraham’s God” was displayed in Abraham's life ... but not only for the people in Abraham's day.  The presence and power of God were displayed in Abraham’s life for those who believe today, so that WE would know the God of Abraham, the one true God, who is sovereign over all things.

God leaves nothing to chance ... in Abraham's life ... in your life.  Step-by-step God unfolds His plan - a plan that includes you and me as believers today.  One of the most beautiful pictures of redemption, of God's plan to redeem lost sinners, is found in Genesis 22.  You probably know the story ... the true story of God instructing Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, to God as a sacrifice.  This was the son God had promised to Abraham and Sarah, the one through whom Abraham's descendants would be counted, numbered by God.  How could Abraham imagine that this would turn out well?

The answer is a simple one:  Abraham believed God at His Word.  Such faith is the sign of one who knows the one true God, the God of Abraham, the Creator, the God of salvation.  Can you imagine what Abraham was thinking as he got up early in the morning and took Isaac and two of his servants with him, intending to offer his son, the son of God’s promise, to God??  He had three days to think about it as they journeyed to the mountain where God had told Abraham to go.  Perhaps a hint of Abraham’s faith is seen in his words to his servants when they arrived at the mountain: 

“Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.  We will worship and then WE will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).  And when Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”, Abraham didn’t say, “You’re it, Isaac!!” ... He answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (22:8).

What did Abraham think was going to happen?  God had told him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to Him!  I love how the writer of Hebrews reveals what only God could know ... what Abraham was thinking!  We read about it in Hebrews 11:17-19:  

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death."

Abraham was thinking:  "If God has called me to do this and if He has promised that my descendants will be numbered through Isaac, then if God allows me to offer him as a sacrifice, God will HAVE to raise Isaac from the dead because God WILL keep His Word!"  THAT’s faith!!!!  And God did even more than that!  Through this event, recorded for us for all time, God revealed His plan to save those who would believe in the coming “Seed” of Abraham.  God stopped Abraham, saying, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (22:12).  Then God provided a ram for the sacrifice and Abraham called that place, “The LORD will provide.”

All of this points to the need for a sacrifice for sin ... a sacrifice no man can give.  Later, God would give Moses the regulations for daily sin offerings and other offerings that pointed to the need for a Savior.  And among all the sacrifices was the Day of Atonement ... the offering of the sacrifice that symbolically removed the sins of the worshipers at the Tabernacle and then the Temple.  Once a year the High Priest would go into the Most Holy Place, behind the curtain, and take the blood of the lamb that had been slain for his own sins and for the sins of the people, and sprinkle it on the Ark of the Covenant.  And the next year it would be offered again.

Once again it is the writer of Hebrews who explains, “those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4).  Then he goes on to say, “We (all who have believed in Jesus) have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ... When this high priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God ... because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:10,12,13).  What an amazing truth!!

He concludes, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is His body ...” (Hebrews 10:19-20) ... we can draw near to God in full assurance of faith, the same faith Abraham had as God worked in his heart, the faith that God “credited to him as righteousness.”

God DID provide the sacrifice!  And as God gave HIS only Son, no one stopped Him as He laid your sins and mine on Jesus as He hung on the cross.  Jesus paid it all!  We know now that all of this pointed ahead to Jesus, the perfect Lamb, being sacrificed on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  God's promises; God's picture of redemption ... Abraham's God ... OUR God!  More than a story.  Abraham was at the beginning, but the story isn't over!!  Pictures become realities ... and WE are saved!!

"OUR Father in heaven, I thank You for Your wisdom and grace in planning to save us from our sins and in making us part of Your family for eternity by faith in Jesus!  As You worked in the past, so continue Your work in us, Your people today, for Your glory!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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