I wonder how many of you reading this article have ever had to ‘sacrifice Isaac’? I don’t mean literally (now that would be gruesome). I mean has God ever tested you like he did Abraham? Have you ever had to let go of something precious in your life and lay it down upon the ‘altar of sacrifice’?
In the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, God instructs Abraham to take his miracle son Isaac and sacrifice him on an altar. Isaac was the son of his old age, the child he had waited 25 years for, his precious gift from God. However, just as Abe was about to slay Isaac, God provides a ram for the sacrifice instead. Abraham passes the test, Isaac’s life is spared and they all lived happily ever after.
The story of Abraham and his son continues to inspire believers all over the world. However, many approach the altar of sacrifice believing, even subconsciously, that Isaac will live. “Yes Lord, I will lay down the relationship, the dream, the career, whatever you ask, because ultimately Isaac will come back to me, just like he did for Abraham”. Many make the assumption that Isaac always lives. “I’ll put Isaac on the altar because we both know the ram arrives and I get Isaac back. Right?” Well, not necessarily.
Giving up Isaac
As a minister, I have encountered many Christians who have become confused, distressed and even angry because things didn’t turn out for them the way they expected. Some even feel betrayed by God, as if he didn’t keep up his side of the bargain—“I did what Abraham did, why didn’t it happen for me like it did for him?” Many sincerely believe that if they obey God, Isaac will not die.
I was faced with the harsh, heart-breaking reality many years ago that, indeed, there are times in life when Isaac seems to die. I was in a serious relationship with a man I believed was the one. We had numerous confirmations, “signs in the heavens and signs on the earth”, including the blessing and approval of our pastors and parents. Both of us were in the ministry at the time—it appeared to be a match made in heaven. Then I went through the Abraham test. I knew I had to place that relationship, which was so precious to me, on the altar of sacrifice. Yet, I was so confident that God had told me we would be married that I let him go, fully expecting the ram to show up!
In that time, my ‘ex’ started dating someone else and got engaged. Secretly in my heart I still believed Isaac would be spared, but on their wedding day Isaac went under the knife and so did my heart. When the man you believe is ‘the one’ marries someone else, that’s well and truly final! I was shattered. Hadn’t God said? It wasn’t meant to end this way. My faith took a serious blow and my confidence in recognising God’s voice was rocked. The grief was of earthquake proportions in my soul. I had obeyed God and expected Isaac to live. What do you do when Isaac, who was so full of promise and joy, doesn’t get spared the sacrificial knife?
Seed time leads to harvest
I discovered a powerful truth in that season, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy,” (Ps 126:5). The King James Version reads “He that goeth forth and weepeth bearing precious seed shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him.” (Emphasis added). Why were they crying? They were crying because seedtime entails the death of something precious. “How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.”(1 Cor 15:36). Even Jesus himself was described as the seed that went into the ground and died (Jn 12:24).
The good news is they didn’t weep forever. Psalm 126 has a happy ending. Something powerful happens when your precious seed dies. Seed times are sad times, but that means your sad time can become a seed time leading to harvest.
If you are in a season of tears today, if your dream, your promise, your Isaac has died, be encouraged because weeping always precedes reaping. If you count your loss as precious seed, you too will receive a harvest. My weeping lasted about five years, but reaping eventually came 10 years later when I met Damien, the man who became my husband. When the reaping comes, no matter how long the wait, the weeping fades in comparison! It may seem hard to believe right now but you will doubtless, without a shadow of a doubt, come again with rejoicing bringing your sheaves with you!
By Vicki Simpson