How Far Would You Go?

At the start of my undergraduate studies in music, I was told I was required to practice my instruments two hours daily. Since I was pursuing a degree in two instruments — piano and flute — that meant four hours of daily practice.

This was besides private lessons, band and orchestra rehearsals, accompanying other flutists as a part of my scholarship responsibilities, and performing in masterclasses.

I also had a full course load of other required courses since I was attending a liberal arts university.

My heart was determined to excel musically, so I practiced more than the required two hours daily per instrument.

I would be at the music building as the janitors were unlocking so that I could either get into a practice room or my professor’s studio.

Between classes and other rehearsals, I would be in the practice rooms until security kicked me out so they could lock up the building.

If I’d been lucky enough to get into my professor’s office after she left, security couldn’t kick me out since they could not know if it was a student or a teacher. So yes, there were nights I spent the night in my professor’s office practicing and occasionally resting on her couch.

Sundays are when I would catch up on all my other courses and rest from practicing unless I had a performance scheduled.

My professors recognized my dedication but did not know I had set up a practice routine of ten hours a day, Monday-Saturday. 

  • What does this have to do with Bible Study?

Our verse for today:

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. (Gen 22:6 ESV)

The context of this verse is that the Lord is testing Abraham regarding Isaac.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 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.” (Gen 22:1-2 ESV)

Abraham’s response to this test is to rise early in the morning, saddle his donkey, get two of his young male servants and Isaac, and chop some wood to take for the burnt offering. (See Gen 22:3)

Three days later, Abraham and company arrive near where God has instructed him to travel. Abraham instructs the two male servants to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac travel further to proceed with the burnt offering. (See Gen 22:4-5).

At this point in the passage, Abraham has not questioned God about being told to sacrifice Isaac. We looked at this some in last week’s post.

Remember, Isaac is the promised child born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. (See Gen 17:16- 17; 18:10-14, and 21:1-3)

Genesis 22:5 sheds a deeper light on what Abraham has believed:

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.” (Gen 22:5 ESV)

Notice Abraham says that both he and the boy will return to the two servants after worshipping at a distance.

Abraham believed that if he remained obedient to the Lord’s instructions, the Lord Himself had the power to return Isaac from a burnt sacrifice.

  • Why did Abraham believe this?

Abraham had experienced the amazing power of the Lord providing Isaac through his wife, Sarah, who was beyond childbearing capability.

Although the instruction to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering sounded bizarre, if not insane, Abraham reveals a trust in the Lord that shows he will go however far the Lord asked him.

Abraham’s faith was in the Lord. Not himself.

The new testament writer of Hebrews concurs:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Heb 11:17-19 ESV)

Read verse six again:

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. (Gen 22:6 ESV)

Abraham’s actions now transfer the burden of carrying the wood to Isaac instead of the donkey.

Abraham carries the fire and knife for the burnt offering.

The two of them travel on to the designated place to proceed with the burnt offering.

Up to this point in the story, no one has asked questions about Abraham’s behavior.

  • Why do you think scripture keeps everyone silent at this point of the story?
  • What do you think is going through the two male servant’s minds?
  • What do you think is going through Isaac’s mind?

Only Abraham knows what they will sacrifice for the burnt offering.

So far, all the two male servants and Isaac know is that Abraham has chopped wood for a burnt offering and now only he and Isaac will take part in the burnt offering a distance away from the servants.

  • Was Abraham concerned that the two male servants would attempt to prevent him from following through with God’s command to offer Isaac as a burnt offering?
  • What do we learn about Abraham because scripture is silent at this point with what the servants and Isaac are thinking?

Perhaps Abraham getting up early in the morning to chop wood for a burnt offering and traveling for a few days with his son and a few servants was something not unusual.

  • Surely the servants would have known the story of how Isaac came to be Abraham’s child?
  • Or were the servants afraid to ask Abraham questions because this behavior was odd?
  • How would you have reacted if you were one of the servants?
  • What do you think the two servants did while Abraham and Isaac traveled further without them?

Although scripture does not reveal the servant’s thoughts, we learn they did not question Abraham’s actions and obeyed his instructions to stay with the donkey.

Much like Abraham was being obedient to the Lord’s instructions.

The reason for these questions is to help us think about how our actions affect those around us.

Our consistency in life shows to others the type of person we are.

Abraham had showed to his household and servants by this point that he was a man who believed and served the Lord.

Abraham’s desire to have a special time alone with Isaac while offering a burnt offering to the Lord would likely not have raised questions by anyone.

As for why Abraham put the wood on Isaac, we have the advantage of the gospel perspective to see a foreshadowing occurring of a future sacrifice:

They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. (Joh 19:17 NAS)

Jesus Christ carried a wooden cross to his own excruciating death on our behalf.

Abraham gave Isaac the burden of carrying the wood to his own sacrifice.

The difference between them is that Jesus knew what was coming.

Isaac did not know what was coming. 

Scripture shows only Abraham and God knew at this point in the story.

How does my introduction to today’s study connect?

My practicing ten hours a day was not an instruction from the Lord. It was my plan. 

The connection with today’s verse is that I, like Abraham, did not share with anyone what I was doing.

Instead, my professors just thought I was being a diligent student.

The servants in today’s verse may have thought nothing was wrong with Abraham’s actions at this point in today’s passage.

Another connection is that I was super dedicated to my musical pursuits. Wrong in my approach, but willing to go the distance.

Imagine what the Lord can do with those of us who will go the distance as Abraham did?

Next week, we will learn more about Isaac in this story.

Meanwhile, consider the following reflection questions:

  1. Are you willing to go as far as Abraham would?
  2. How far has God gone for you?
  3. What else did I miss in this study?
  4. Do you have a story to share about when you were willing to go the distance?

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

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One Reply to “How Far Would You Go?”

  1. Man you were driven back then. Hopefully you’ve wised up and not as driven these days and enjoying life a little???

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