Rejoice for the Fulfilment of God’s Word
Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Gen 22:9-12)
God gave Abraham these promises which were very hard to believe. God promised, “I will give this land to you; your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky; and I will be their God.” Finally, when Abraham saw the promise fulfilled – that God would give him a son – Abraham received the testimony that all those promises which seemed uncertain would surely be accomplished. Though the promises given appeared to be impossible, he received the testimony that they would all be fulfilled to him when he had a son. Hence for Abraham, his son was not only a son but a testimony of God’s promise.
So his son had to grow up well for he was going to become the father to many descendants. If Abraham had two sons they would both grow up, get married and have many children. Yet he only had one son and thus God would need to make another covenant with this son – Isaac. Therefore his son was very important. He would have to grow up well, get married quickly and have children.
However, when his son was, we can estimate, around 15 years of age, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him. But there’s a problem if his son was to die. If he dies, how can God’s promise be fulfilled – that Abraham’s descendants would become numerous? It was possible for Abraham to say in that situation: “God, is this not the son You promised me? I don’t think this is Your will that I sacrifice him. This can’t be God’s voice.” He could’ve been in denial or in some other way tried to protect his son because if God promised to increase his descendants through this son, he wouldn’t have him killed. Nevertheless, Abraham did not say a word and obeyed as soon as he heard what God had said. He went ahead in obedience without the slightest hesitation up to the point when he lifted the knife to slay his son.
What does that mean? One may think that Abraham’s love for God exceeded that for his son, that he didn’t withhold his son but sacrificed him. But there’s more to it than that. He didn’t think that his son was being sacrificed. He also didn’t think that it was okay for his son to die if it was God’s command. He believed that God would raise him to life even if he died. It was not that he considered his son worthy to die for the commandment of God. Instead, he believed that God would surely raise him from the dead which is why he was so bold in slaying his son.
How did Abraham believe in God? He believed He could call things that are not as though they were. So Sarah’s womb was as though nonexistent. But he believed that God could use it as though it existed. And he also believed that even if he killed his son, he would come down the mountain together with his son. Why? He was certain that God would raise him to life. So, Abraham believed that God is He who can raise the dead. That was the reason why he was able to obey as he did. And what did God observe from that? After Abraham had his son, he cherished him like the apple of his eye. And at times, it appeared as though it was all because of his love for his son. But through this incident, God discovered that what Abraham had longed for and rejoiced over was not in having a son. Rather he rejoiced over the fact that he obtained the testimony that God’s word was going to be fulfilled upon him. God confirmed that Abraham was joyful about God’s word being fulfilled to him. That was why he was able to sacrifice his son when God commanded him to. Otherwise, if his love and attention for his son were greater than for God’s word, he would not have been able to obey. However, his greatest joy was in the fact that God’s word was being accomplished upon him.
In the same way, we also rejoice when demons are cast out of us. But why are we joyful? We may be joyful because we are healed of sickness, because the demons were driven out, and because we experienced that power. But Jesus said to rejoice for something more than those; rejoice over the fact that our names are written in heaven. In other words, the demons being cast out is evidence, a testimony that our names are written in heaven. So how joyful should we be? In this way, our faith is not set anywhere else but on the fact that God’s word is fulfilled upon us. We can receive many things through prayer. And we may be joyful that we received them through our prayers. However, we may be asked to surrender those things again. And we should be able to lay them down. Why? The reason for our joy is not that we received those things but that the word was fulfilled upon us. We are joyful about the fact that the word is accomplished and that we are being led by the word – that God is with us.
When I first got a job, I had many incredible testimonies as to how I got the job. I worked there for about a year. It was amazing how I got the job and my parents were most surprised by it all because they saw the whole process. It was a very good workplace. However, I resigned after one year. And that was also with God’s guidance. But my father said to me, “Didn’t you say that it was God who led you to this job? So how can you possibly be letting go of it now? It doesn’t make sense. Which is which?” But it was God who led me to it a year ago, and God who led me out of the job a year later as well.
Just because God granted you something, yesterday does not mean He is giving it to you forever. Furthermore, if God’s word leads you to something deeper, you would be able to surrender everything you received. In this way, our true joy is in the fact that God’s word is accomplished upon us and our souls should be filled with that joy. May you truly rejoice over the fact that God’s promises are fulfilled in you, rather than rejoicing over what you received through your prayers or God’s promises.
Abraham believed and was assured from the fulfilment of God’s promise that he would surely become the source of a great blessing. But for him to have his son, and for God to say to him, “Ah, now I know that you love Me”, it took a long forty years which no one else took notice of. But after that he really did become a source of blessing. Even after that, God promised him again. Once more He reiterated saying, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”, and it had taken forty years for him to receive that promise. Up until then, a lot happened to Abraham. Ever since he came from Ur of the Chaldeans, he was met with many twists and turns which are only briefly described in the Bible. Right before he had his son, God appeared to him saying he would have a son a year from then. So you might think he would have a peaceful time until the next year. But it wasn’t. He had to leave that region. He went to the region called Gerar where Abimelech took his wife. And after many twists and turns, Abraham came out of that region. But he was not left at peace even until the end. The devil hinders right to the end. Even in the eyes of other people, there certainly was a cause for doubt. Abraham said he would have a child next year, but his wife had laid in King Abimelech’s bed for a short time. So for anyone who is determined not to believe, there is certainly a reason to doubt as to whose son Isaac was.
But we know that even if Abraham had the strength to have children, Sarah was barren. She could not bear children at all. Hence even if she had laid with Abimelech, it was impossible for her to bear a child. But for unbelievers, these factors would leave room for doubt and become a source of suspicion. Likewise, the devil will not leave us alone until the very last minute. Consider what Abraham would have gone through during those forty years. Nevertheless, he was able to maintain his faith throughout those forty years, as though none of those events occurred to him, as if they made no impact on the promise of God made to him. So it is people like him that God uses.
When Moses attempted to save his people by his own strength, he could do nothing. Instead, he was falsely accused as a murderer and fled to the desert. There in the desert, he spent forty years of his life only looking at sheep. And it was to him that God entrusted His work. Hence those forty years were not wasted. It was a period that was imperatively necessary for him. People are so impatient that if it’s forty years, they would doubt and bring an end to the promise of God. Yet, for those whom God uses, they are the ones who have gone through this lonely and solitary process. This is very important.
We often see around us those who say they will do missionary work or something else. But before long we find many of them have changed their ways. And usually, they say they have failed. They say they tried, but they failed. But from what I can see, they never tried. They didn’t even start. And they are already trying something else. Such people shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. They should be determined to wait for at least thirty years. When making alcohol, the sugar has to first break down in order to ferment. Likewise, it is necessary that people go through this process during which everything that was clogged up within them gets broken down and cleared up. Let us pray so that God’s word is truly fulfilled within us and we are made the source of blessing.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center