The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.’
This scripture comes at the end of story of God’s request that Abraham sacrifice his only son Isaac. Before even hearing what God wants from Abraham, the passage begins with Abraham answering God call by saying “Here I am.” Without objection, Abraham leads Isaac up a mountain and prepares to make his son a burnt offering to the Lord. However, God ultimately intervenes and provides a ram to substitute as a sacrifice. Having tested Abraham’s faith and devotion, God blesses Abraham.
Perhaps this scripture, which is a bit dark, seems out of place for a devotion series during Advent. That said, the parallel between the ram and Christ is obvious. The celebration of Christmas as the birth story is only completed by Easter, as God fulfills his promise by so loving the world that He gives His one and only Son. For me, reflecting on this scripture, I am more attracted to thinking about what Abraham did to receive God’s blessing than the blessing itself.
My father was an Air Force chaplain. I can recall that one of his sermons, which he preached on more than one occasion, was regarding leadership. I can’t recall the scripture reference for this sermon, but the sermon focused on qualities found in a good leader, the first of which was leaders don’t lead where they themselves aren’t willing to go.
God calls Abraham to do the unthinkable and sacrifice his son, but as we know God was only willing to ask this of Abraham because He was willing to do it Himself. Abraham’s simple “Here I am” to God’s calling his name is all it took to receive God’s blessing. Abraham was willing to follow God, because his faith in God’s leadership was absolute.
My prayer is that this season brings joy to you and your family, that God’s promised blessing be the source of that joy, and that we listen this Advent season for God to call us by name. May we be prepared to answer Him as Abraham did, because we know whatever God asks of us He has asked of Himself. Amen.