Tuesday, December 22, 2009

THE INVISIBLE BOY

Remember when you were a kid, and you had to sit at the “kids' table” during holiday and family dinners? The grown-ups gathered around a beautifully decorated, long and elaborate feast, while the kids sat on benches and cushions at a wobbly card table. I remember trying to conjure a reason to interrupt my mom's dinner, just so I could visit the big-people table for a moment. Perhaps I could hear a snippet of their conversation, get some adult “dirt” on family news. I complained of tummy aches, cold mashed potatoes, and a kick in the shin from Cousin Mark. All were equally ineffective excuses, winning only chastising frowns and quick directives back to the kids' table.

It was Christmas at the Andrews' house last night. We were celebrating with both daughters, our son-in-law to-be and my father-in-law. But guess what? No children's table. Nope. No ankle-biters in the family at this point. Perhaps in a few years we'll have a couple knee-nibblers or curtain-climbers to join the Andrews' tribe, but until that happy day we'll just have to settle for boring adult conversation.

In today's Scripture, I felt a little like we were listening in on the adult conversation between God and Abraham. Poor Isaac is sitting at the kid's table – or more accurately, lying on top of it, about to be sacrificed – while God speaks only to Abraham. Or is there more to this story?

Gen. 22:9-10 – “When [Abraham and Isaac] 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. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”
  • Isaac could have run (surely, no matter what his age, this boy was faster than his 100+ year-old father). He could have fought or screamed; but we don't get that impression, do we? For whatever reason, this boy (or young man), who understands sacrifice (Gen. 22:7), chose to suffer silently while his father was tested by El Shaddai. Sometimes those who watch their loved ones being tested, suffer just as painfully alongside them.
Gen. 22:11-12 – “But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, 'Abraham! Abraham!' 'Here I am,' he replied. '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.'” (emphasis added)
  • I thought God was testing Abraham's FAITH, but the angel says this sacrifice proves his FEAR of God. Now, let's think about this. Whose FEAR of God was REALLY heightened in this process – the one with the knife or the one on the altar? (Yes, the Hebrew word here is literally “fear” or “reverence.”)
Gen. 22:13-14 – “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 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.'”
  • Abraham wasn't the only one that saw the ram – Isaac saw that it was the LORD who provided the sacrifice for the burnt offering…just as his father had promised (Gen. 22:8). Abraham definitely proved his faith, but Isaac's faith was just as certainly being built.
Gen. 22:15-19 – “The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, 'I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 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, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.' Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.”
  • God had already promised all this to Abraham and his descendants without any action on Abraham’s part (Gen. 15). So why did God say THIS act of obedience would bring to pass the Covenant Promise? Hmmmm, perhaps because God knew the kids' table was listening? Isaac was hearing the Promise resound from heaven for the first time, and it was essential that Isaac and HIS descendants understand that obedience was necessary to remain in the Promised Land (Deut. 30).
Lord, I sometimes think lessons are just for me; but I, too, am changed while watching those I love learn hard lessons. Teach me to be attentive to the lessons You have for me as You're teaching those around me. And help me respond graciously, when the lessons You teach others cause me pain – to know the right moments for words and for silence.

4 comments:

jost said...

教育的目的,不在應該思考什麼,而是教吾人怎樣思考.........................

Mesu Andrews said...

I believe the translation in English is something like this: The education goal, is not to ponder, but how it teaches us to ponder. Is that correct?

Pam Oglesbee said...

I found your blog! Looking forward to spending time with you and the Lord friend.

Nancy said...

I love the family picture & seeing your girls all grown up!