BLOG ENTRY #6 DATE: January 27, 2012
From “Discipleship and Discipline”, by William H. Hicks, copyright March, 2005:
“In Genesis 22, Abraham’s faith had been tested by God. He directs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mountains of Moriah. Recall that Isaac is not Abraham’s only son. Ishmael is Abraham’s son by Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant; yet, God has promised to “bless all nations” through Abraham’s son by Sarah, his wife (Genesis 17: 19, 21). Upon hearing this promise, Abraham actually falls down and laughs (Genesis 17: 17) because of his circumstances- he and Sarah are old and Sarah is well beyond her fertile years. Why didn’t Abraham attempt to substitute Ishmael for Isaac when he was commanded to sacrifice his son? In Genesis 17: 18, Abraham had sought God’s blessings on Ishmael, so he obviously loved this son, too. Why Isaac? First, God specifically called for the sacrifice of Isaac, not Ishmael. Second, Abraham had faith to follow God’s instructions and he believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. His (Abraham’s) task was obedience. The same value, the same standard of behavior demonstrated by Abraham is required of any disciple. Obedience evidences that desire, that heartfelt adherence to one’s Teacher and His teaching that must characterize each of Christ’s disciples. “Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:7 – 8)”
In Genesis 24, Abraham is positioning himself to receive all God’s blessing. Abraham charges his chief servant to return to the landof Abraham’s birth to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s people. Abraham does not want Isaac to marry a woman from among those in the midst of whom he is living. The chief servant recognizes what an awesome responsibility he is being asked to assume. So, initially, he says, ‘suppose the woman doesn’t want to come back here to Canaanwith me’. ‘How about if I take Isaac with me’. There are a few things going on here. On one level, the chief servant may be implying, “Let me take Isaac along. I don’t want to be responsible if I bring this woman back and Isaac thinks she’s a dog!” On another level he may be thinking, suppose the woman says, “I’m not going anywhere with you to marry some guy I have never seen, I don’t care how rich you say he is!” Abraham counters all these arguments by saying the landof Canaanon which they are living has been promised to Abraham and his descendants. If Isaac leaves and goes back “home”, to the land of his father’s family, he may not return. His relatives may convince Isaac that ‘he should be here among his own people’. And, ultimately, Abraham calls upon his Teacher, El Shaddai, by saying to his servant, “the Lord will send His angel to assure the success of your mission on my behalf”.
Now, in those days, they had a curious way of sealing a covenant. Abraham sat, presumably in some place symbolic of his authority, and the chief servant is asked to put his hand under Abraham’s thigh and swear to fulfill the mission. Thus, discipleship is a choice. Devotion is a conscious decision. Dedication is a decisive act. The chief servant was not coerced into this mission (“Please place your hand under my thigh”). It was described to him in full. He was aware of the risks (“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”Luke 9: 23 NAS). The chief servant took ten camels, some servants and some really nice gifts. He set off on a journey half-way around the then-known world. When he got to the town ofNahor, he prayed to God, asking God to divinely identify His choice of a mate for Isaac.
Oh, if only we disciples would do the same thing!! His prayer bears close examination: “Oh Lord, God of my master Abraham (and, by implication and because I am praying this prayer to You, my God, too!) give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” Success for the disciple/chief servant is the extension of God’s lovingkindness to his master, not to himself personally! Abraham’s chief servant then outlines a procedure by which he asks God to certify the woman He has chosen for Isaac. Of course, the Scripture reveals that Rebekah, a “very beautiful virgin” was identified as that one whom God had chosen, by her response to the chief servant’s request for a drink of water. (Who else comes to mind as asking a woman at a well for a drink of water?) The chief servant asks Rebekah about her family, ascertaining that she is a distant relative of Abraham (the granddaughter of Abraham’s father’s brother). He then bows low and worships God, thanking Him for His “kindness and faithfulness to his master Abraham” and for His guidance to him (the chief servant) in his mission.”