Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jesse Tree: December 6

Hang ornament with ram

Today’s ornament is the ram, and we will be talking about Abraham again.  God always keeps His promises, and he did indeed bless Abraham and Sarah with a son named Isaac.  This is where we pick up the story, and it is one of FAITH and SACRIFICE. 

Our reading comes from Genesis 22:1-18:
 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”  15 Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
“What a demand God made! But Abraham did not withhold his only son of promise. What God wanted was Abraham’s heart, not Isaac’s life. So when the knife was raised to slay Isaac, a provided substitute appeared.”*
Abraham was ready to give up his son for a sacrifice to honor God, and on that occasion, God promised to give His Son as a sacrifice for the Salvation of man.  God provided a lamb for Abraham, and at the same time, God promised to provide another Lamb through Abraham.  
This promised Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world, is Jesus.  God sent his Son Jesus to be THE sacrifice for our sins.  1 Peter tells us that we are redeemed “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 
Christ came to earth and took flesh and blood, that he might obey and suffer as a man.  He kept the whole law for his people, but he never sinned.  He was holy, blameless, and undefiled, and he lived a life of perfect obedience to the law of God.  Not only did he live a perfect life while He was here on earth, but also He satisfied divine justice by his sufferings and death in the place of sinners.  So He lived a life without sin, AND he suffered all of the punishment that our sins deserve.  
Through the years, godly people were saved by believing in this Savior to come, and they offered sacrifices to show their faith.  These sacrifices represented Christ, the Lamb of God, who was to die for sinners.  But now, we no longer need to make sacrifices.  Hebrews chapter 10 tells us, “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God... For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified....”  God’s saving work is complete through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, and that is exactly why we are waiting expectantly during this season of celebrating Christ’s birth!
* From resource, “All Men of the Bible”

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