Genesis 22:1-18 (NIV)     Abraham’s Sacrifice
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.  2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.  9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

 

11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.

 

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

 

This last week through this week has been and is a high holy one for our Jewish friends. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur was celebrated over the ten day period ending Saturday the 14th.

 

Now we as Christians have a relationship with the Jewish people. They may not be our ancestors biologically, but the relationship we have with them is that from the root of David came our Lord and Savior.
And because I believe that we are connected – Judeo-Christian – I support them, I pray for them, I feel a certain unity with them. Our Jesus was a Jew.

 
Since Christ ascended to heaven after His resurrection, our entire spiritual focus changed. We no longer have to do live sacrifices; Jesus sacrificed Himself as the one living sacrifice to cover for all times. We now have a direct link to God. Martin Luther said we were the sainthood of believers. We have that direct link and do not need an intercessory. So our paths have changed a bit, but I think we need to remember where we (as a Christian body) actually came from.

 
“Able is rushed to the hospital in an emergency. His life is passing before his eyes. He is sure that his time has come. He prays to God with all his soul. God’s presence descends in a brilliant light and assures Abel that he will make a full recovery…it’s only appendicitis. In fact, God tells Abel that he still has many good and productive years left. When Abel is released from the hospital, he is jubilant; buoyed by the great news that was revealed to him. Immediately Abel decides to make the most of his remaining years. He goes out and has some plastic surgery done, he buys himself a complete new wardrobe of fancy clothes–even a top hat and walking stick, and to cap it all off he purchases a brand new car. As he drives away, feeling like a million bucks, a bus comes careening around the corner and crushes him and his little sports car like a tin can. Abel is furious and appears before the heavenly court to file a complaint with God. “God,” he exclaims, “Why?! You promised me many more good and fruitful years. Why did you let me die?” ‘Abel?!, Abel!?’ God calls out, ‘that was you!? I didn’t recognize you!’”

 

This old classic of a story makes me wonder if God would recognize us as the one He originally called us to be. Do we recognize ourselves? Are we the person we want to be or planned to be? Have we stuck to our guns, grown in our own spirit? Or have we killed, sacrificed, that – our beliefs, our dreams, our values – so we could more fit in and be accepted, so we could get ahead?

 

Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, the love of his life, his “self.”

 

Let’s take a look at ourselves today and the “me” we were years ago when we still knew who we were. How have we changed – have we changed?

 

It’s easy to just not focus on ourselves as a spiritual being. It’s a lot more fun to just “play house” or “play business” during the day and then honour ourselves with television and playing with the kids in the evening. How easy it is to forget who we are! Are we alienated or separated from our own selves, spiritually? If we suffer and cry out in our hearts for God, I would guess that we are.

 

The Jewish holiday being celebrated beginning last week and ends this weekend is marked and called Days to REMEMBER who we truly are, who we are called to be!

 
From a young rabbi, “And yet, isn’t it so easy for us to let the most precious things in our lives {our spirituality, our beliefs} slowly slip through our fingers, almost without noticing? It happens all the time. We don’t really feel that we are giving up on a dream, a passion or a deep yearning in the moment that it happens. But then we notice that they’re gone; that we’ve settled for much less. Often, it is hard to feel that we can get them back. This Rosh Hashanah, I want us to remember. I want us to remember all of the idealism, the relationships, the goals and hopes, the passions nestled deep in our hearts”.

 

 

We seek our own Rosh Hashanah weekly in church, in prayer, as we ask God to come into our lives, forgive us our trespasses, and walk with us on our spiritual journey.   As we remember when we were the closest to God (and that may have been long ago or just yesterday) that we can remember and be there once again. We can ask God to walk beside us.

 

First we have to remember. We have to remember who we are and remember the relationship we had or have with God. Then we have to remember what we are. We have to realize and hold to what we love. How many of us have given away our love, stuck it somewhere out of sight? Is that not like Abraham preparing to lay Isaac on the mound of wood to burn? Is that not us sacrificing ourselves as said earlier?

 

 

So, what have we let drop or put in our subconscious to deal with later? What have we put off for tomorrow what we could be doing today, right now.  What have we given up on totally because it was too difficult to accomplish or think about?   My friends, it is never too late. We must Stop, Look, and Listen – just as we did as children at the railroad tracks. We must pay attention to the life that is happening right before our eyes and connect this life to God. That is what God is always trying to tell us.

 

Never give up on your dreams, never let go of those things that bring you joy and fill your life with meaning. This crucial message, which we need to hear again and again, is also communicated in a surprising and unexpected way in the story of the Binding of Isaac by Abraham which is our scripture reading for today. Let’s look at this scripture as a focus and reminder to pay attention to our lives.  Abraham was about to sacrifice the one love of his life, his only son. What have we sacrificed in our life or given up on? What dreams have we put away? When our heart used to cry for a desire, why have we given up on it and allowed ourselves to forget? What a sacrifice we have made! We sacrificed what Abraham did not – ourselves. Think about that.

 

Which of these if not all do you associate with yourself:
Long work hours
Wild schedules at home with kids and other family
Important relationships (on hold?)
Emotional Health                                                                                                        Physical Health
Intimacy with our mate
Spiritual connections

 

If you identify with any of these and are letting the world control you, you are out of balance and you are sacrificing your lost soul.   But now, let’s think about what we are going to do about it.  Look at these areas of your life so you can live and work in a balanced and healthy way.

 

 

“Life is a holy dance, a balancing act. We are in danger, though, when we fail to honour and value all of the disparate parts of our life…our career, our family, our continuing education, our spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. We become unrecognizable, even to ourselves, when we sacrifice our most cherished hopes and dreams of our lives on the altar of illusory and transient pursuits. To truly serve God, we now learn from this scripture that we must never sacrifice the things we love.”

 

 

Abraham answered God each time He called, and He only had to call his name once. When Abraham was preparing to make the most difficult sacrifice, the angel of God called him twice. Why? Perhaps because Abraham had even forgot who he was in his desire to serve God. We all need to be called and reminded who we are and what is really important in our lives. We must always remember.

 
God is calling our names. Let us remember always who we are and what we value – spiritually, morally, earthly.

 
Let’s always hold on to the balance which creates the peace in our lives.

 

The tightrope is easy to walk across when you look straight ahead at God, knowing who you are and what you value.

 

Grace and Peace to you from God, the Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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