Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 8

What I Read Today: Genesis 22-25: 18.

What Stood Out: Genesis 22:1,“Here I am…”. Genesis 22:3, “Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey…”, Genesis 24:56, “But he said to them, ‘Don’t detain me – the Lord has granted me success on my journey. Let me leave now so I may return to my master.'”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

I know people who purchased a swing set for their kids. It was assembled outside Toys R Us, but what they purchased was in a box. They got home, immediately tore into the box, pulled out parts and started putting together the swing set. There were a few glitches along the way but nothing that couldn’t be undone and re-done relatively quickly. They had little use for the instructions until AFTER the fact.

Not me, man. For example, a few years back a friend and I decided we were going to get in shape and run a marathon. I bought a book about it. I checked out what the Internet said about such. I talked with a friend who’d done it as well as a friend who runs triathlons. I got a lot of data and decided to go for it. (While I didn’t complete the marathon, I did finish the 19-mile training run)

This is a pattern in my life. For example, my friends and family seem to think I should write a book (and tell me to get on it) and every now and again I start thinking they’re correct, so I purchase a book (actually 3) on creativity and another couple of books written by writers on their process. I even went to not one, not two, but three different seminars and workshops by one of my favorite authors to hear first-hand how it happens in his life and was thrilled that two of them highlighted Q&A portions of the program.

Same for a diet program. But I’ll sit in front of The Biggest Loser eating a bag of Doritos with my fast-food waiting to get all inspired.

I even had a similar swing set to the one my friends got and I read the instructions and meticulously laid out all the pieces and such and began to work my plan. Of course, the missus strolls out after hearing my frustration and just eyeballs the thing and fixes what I was having trouble with in about four seconds.

Which is why I’m drawn to the things that stood out I listed above.

See, Abraham was quick on the trigger when God called to him in Genesis 22:1. Abraham’s response was “Here I am.” The implication is that not only does Abraham hear God calling but stands at the ready to be obedient to what’s going to follow. Kind of like a soldier falling-in at his commander’s call to assemble with “Sir! Yes, sir!” Ready to go, even if they don’t know what the mission is yet.

And check out what that command is: Go and offer your son as a burnt offering.

Your son. The one you waited 100 years for. The one you were told promises would be fulfilled through. The child you love.

As a burnt offering. You’ve been through this before, only with goats and rams and such. You’ve killed animals with whatever means you had available. A bloody mess is what it is. With whatever sounds, sights and smells that happen when you kill animals with whatever means you have available. I’m a suburban & city kind of kid, so I’ll have to let you draw on your own resources to imagine what transpires there.

Then catch what comes next: He got up early in the morning to go and do what God asked him to do. Maybe it’s because he couldn’t sleep and figured he may as well get on with it. But no matter the reason, he packed up and headed on the three day journey. Isaac, I feel pretty sure, was suspicious. As dads tend to do when they don’t want to answer the suspicious questions of our child, gave him all the data he needed: God will provide the sacrifice.

He goes through the entire process of setting up for an offering. An altar. The wood. Sharpening the knife. And I can’t imagine the next step of tying up his child and placing him on the altar. My guess is that Isaac had seen the process a few times in his life and was fully aware of what was about to happen. I imagine Abraham doing his best to explain things, but I still see how horrifying and terrifying this moment in history would be for both people.

What I’m amazed by is that Abraham really believed he would plunge the knife into his son. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that he pretty much figured that he would kill Isaac and God would resurrect him.

Kill Isaac.

God will resurrect him.

And he got up early after falling-in to get this process going. My guess is that Isaac and Abraham’s relationship was much different after this event in about a million different ways.

Same for the chief servant finding a bride for Isaac. Granted this situation was much happier because weddings are happy & celebratory times because God’s at work in the lives of two people. The contrast is the sacrifice to cover our sin requiring the shedding of blood.

And the servant doesn’t want to mess up. He prays for a signal to help him figure out which woman to get for Isaac. While he was still praying a woman walks up and does exactly what he prayed to see.

Immediately after the camels got their water, he gives her the equivalent of an engagement ring and tells her they have to get to her house to complete the arrangements. In fact, he was pretty forthright in the reality of getting the deal done, because the servant told the head of the household that, while dinner is on the table, he won’t even eat until he makes his proposal.

They stay the night. And, as one might expect, the family asked for a bit more time to say goodbye to their daughter. The nice thing to do would be to say, “Sure. Take a day. Maybe a week. I mean, they have a lifetime to be married.”

But the chief servant tells the head of the household, “Not so much. I don’t have a week and a half to get this done. Let me take my master’s bride to him, pronto.” Loose translation…but that’s the gist of it.

And Rebekah is ready to go, too. Her family gives her the right to decide if she’d like to stick around for a week and a half to celebrate with family and say goodbyes and such. Her reply? “I want to go.”

The immediacy of all these vignettes stands out to me…

…and the funny thing about all the books on creativity…
…and the funny thing about all the books on how to write a book…
…and the funny thing about a diet program…
…and the funny thing about putting a swing set together…

…is that they all say or imply a reality:

You have to “go.”

They don’t tell you to wait for the muse to strike. They tell you show up and work and hope the muse shows up.
They don’t tell you to plan it all out. They tell you to start writing and you can edit/refine later.
They don’t tell you to wait until the first of the month is on a Monday to start your diet. They say clean out your pantry today.
They don’t tell you to leave it in the box. They tell you to put it together so your kids can have fun.

And the encouragement I got today is the immediacy of Abraham, the chief servant and Rebekah. Go. Obey. Now.

And I know what God is asking me to do. Not only because you’re reading (I hope) it…but there are some other things I need to stop planning and just “do.”

What about you?

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 25:19-28:22)