This article is curated from "Covenant Transfer" by Dr. Stephen Everett. It is the last of three books in this series that unfold the ministry of Spiritual Fathers and the process they walk through with Father God that prepares them for the task.
A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES SACRIFICE
We now shift to the latter stages of Abraham’s life. The process of developing him as a father has been rigorous to say the least. All the tests have been imposing to some degree. However, he has passed the most important one thus far: releasing Ishmael. The release of Isaac is yet to come. He loved both dearly and, each release required tremendous fortitude and faith. How does one give up what one has waited on for so long only to realize, technically, it was never yours? The promise of a son was a gift to him, a loan; but actually, the son was the possession of God.
Now, he must deal with the closing chapters of his life, which probably incorporated the last forty years or so, considering the total of God’s dealings lasted about 100 years with him. These last encounters prepared for the final shift to occur, as another generation (Isaac) prepares to continue the purposes of God.
A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES TRUST
Abraham’s separation from Ishmael primed him for the conclusive separation: His willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command. Fathers must be able to trust the integrity of God’s heart with their choicest treasures. The book of Genesis said that God did tempt Abraham. The purpose behind this trial was to prove to Abraham the depth and quality of his commitment and love to his heavenly Father. If he refused to withhold Isaac from God, he would withhold nothing from God.
Probably the greatest test in a father’s life is relinquishing to God the thing we love the most. If a father is willing to give his “only”to God, he has nothing more to give. Every person has an “only”that is different, for that is why the test is dissimilar for each man. Abraham carried the promise of Isaac in his heart for many years and it was challenging to give him up. If he passed this test, he would walk in uncharted territory: A man with a pure heart never needing a recorded command from God again.
Apostles must know how to lay their long awaited dreams down with grace. The real test is does one want his or her dream more than the God of the dream? In the New Testament, apostles would plant and water a work, and then, they would turn it over to the certain care of a plurality of elders. If apostles will release their dreams at one level, God will return them to them in a higher level –an unprecedented maturity working in people.
A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES A SUBMITTED HEART
The writer of the book to the Hebrews captures this series of events to help us to understand it in light of a New Covenant pictorial. Though the young men accompanied Abraham and Isaac, this was primarily a transaction between the “father and his son.” Equally, although the interplay of characters involved in Calvary was somewhat wily and devious, it was more so a transaction between the heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure”(Hebrews 11: 17-18). “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”(Romans 8: 32)
Isaac was probably a young man by the time God gave Abraham this word. Although it is very apparent Abraham had an unquestioning response to God’s command, we must also recognize the compliance and trust Isaac had in his father. Isaac is a type of Jesus Christ, the Father’s only Son, who willingly submitted Himself to the will of His Father. Being that Isaac in type became a burnt offering, it speaks to the truth that Calvary’s offering was totally unto God.
The heavenly Father lit the torch of Jesus’afflictions. They were initiated by the flame of God’s love and executed by God’s merciful hands. We fulfill the same truth of the burnt offering by becoming “living sacrifices.”Fathers must model this lifestyle before their families because it is the highest level of worship.
The first occurrence of the word “worship”is in Genesis 22. This is a far cry from what we call worship in modern times. There is no music, no choruses, no instruments, and no Davidic expressions –just plain, unadulterated worship. If the law of first use establishes precedence, then, it is impossible to worship apart from costly sacrifice. We are able to behold an unsullied order of worship in everything that Abraham did in preparation for that monumental occasion. A principle we may draw from this transaction is that fathers are skillful worshippers provided they listen to God.
There is no such thing as leaving the praise and worship to the children while the fathers wait to deliver the sermon. In fact, fathers should be the family worship leaders. This is part of the Melchizedek priestly expression –the ministry of offering gifts and sacrifices to God, with the greatest one being our very own lives. The only way Abraham could have explicitly executed God’s orders was to remain in a spirit of worship. By doing so, he wouldn’t stoop to sentimentalism and spare Isaac’s life. Worship enabled him to fully obey God.
A LIFE OF WORSHIP REQUIRES OBEDIENCE
Just as Abraham laid the wood of the burnt offering on Isaac, the heavenly Father laid the wood of the cross on Jesus Christ through the instrumentality of human hands. Similarly, we each bare the wood of our personal crosses daily (Luke 9: 23). Though Jesus endured the animosity of a carnal, vitriolic priesthood protecting their religious system and Roman occupiers clueless as to the purposes of God, it was really God orchestrating this whole matter. He hid his plan from men and they became co-conspirators with the adversary in crucifying Jesus. Jesus, like Isaac, was a lamb led to the slaughter, refusing to accuse His Father or to condemn men for what was happening.
Abraham’s reward for his obedience was to receive Isaac back from the heavenly Father as alive from the dead. This is one of the more beautiful pictures of the doctrine of the resurrection. God saw the travail of Abraham’s soul and was satisfied.
The sparing of the son’s life was the father’s reward for total trust.
God vindicated Abraham and Isaac, and He also vindicated Jesus Christ, the suffering Servant, by raising Him from the dead. Another official act of vindication was to provide seed that prolonged his days. This indicates that one of the ways Father God vindicates spiritual fathers is to give them sons. We must lift our thinking beyond church membership at this point because most church members are not necessarily sons. Those who prolong your days have your spiritual DNA –they carry your name, your heart, your passion, your vision, and your agenda. If we use this criterion to determine sonship, most fathers have few sons. However, sons are one of the rewards for obedience. Abraham not only received Isaac to prolong his days in another generation, but he also watched God make his name great.
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