I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice!

26 04 2013

“What you believe about God is the most important thing about you.” – A.W. Tozer

This is true because we filter everything we experience through our belief system – whether we “believe” in God or not, and what we believe to be true about Him.

For me this had some serious repercussions. I’ll tell you about one of them here.

The story of Abraham and Isaac always bugged me. Why on earth would God finally give Abraham and Sarah a child when he was 100, and she was 90 – only to demand that this son be taken to a hill and killed by his father. Since when has God been big on human sacrifice?

Now, I get the “foreshadowing” thing. I understand that on another day in the distant future, God would sacrifice His own Son on that very mountain – a substitute for us (which is why a ram was provided for Abraham). I get that. On the other hand, this story made no sense to me whatsoever.

It didn’t help that in my youth, a preacher taught on this topic and used it to demonstrate that Abraham was required to do this so he would get his priorities straight. He “loved” Isaac more than the Lord, and that was “bad.” This little exercise was to divorce Abraham from his “idolatrous” attachment to his son.

This well-meaning preacher went on to say that if there was something in our lives that we loved more than God, that we must also sacrifice it, thereby “getting our hearts right” with God.

I was young, impressionable, and eager to please the god I “knew.”

Back then, I imagined Him to be (as most people do) very similar to my earthly father. (If you knew what he was like, you’d know that wasn’t going to go very well for God.) I didn’t know any better, and unfortunately attended a church that was big on religion and very short on relationship with God. It was all about the rules, baby, and you’d better keep them or God’s gonna’ get you real good.

Here’s an example of what I believed to be true about Him:

God would “invite” me to sit down and play a game with Him.

“Ooh! I like to play games. How do we begin?”

“I’m not going to tell you. Just do whatever you think is right. Let’s play. It will be fun,” he said with a grin.

I glanced at the board and game pieces – then spotted some dice. That looks likely, I thought. I picked them up, shook them, and dropped them onto the game board.

Anger filled his face. Reaching across the board, he slapped me hard – knocking me to the floor.

“That wasn’t right,” he said through gritted teeth.

All sunshine and smiles, he said brightly, “Try something else. This will be fun.”

*****

Yes. That was the “god” I knew and did my best to love. Love Him or go to hell. What else could I do?

[As a result, when someone tells me they don’t believe in God, I ask, “Tell me about him; I probably don’t believe in that god either!” ]

*****

Back to the Abraham story: I meditated on that message for several years. I “knew” what God wanted me to sacrifice, and it took time to be willing to obey.

Music has been my greatest passion since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. By the time I was 12 I was writing songs to sing to Jesus. By the time I graduated high school, I sang, wrote music, and played 10 instruments. I was “First Chair” in most of them. I’d only ever had lessons in clarinet, so I’d have to say that God gave me this beautiful gift.

It was this I had to sacrifice. Feeling like part of me died, I gave it up.

– And I hated Him for it.

– For almost 30 years.

God is so patient with us, His adopted children, who don’t trust Him – who believe Him to be like the fathers or authority figures they’ve known. Really patient.

Knowing when the time is right for “teachable moments,” He slowly transforms us by renewing our minds. He wants to teach us the truth about what He is like. He promises that this will make us free. My Lord did this for me just this morning.

The reason God called Abe to sacrifice his son is this: Abraham’s culture worshiped gods that demanded the sacrifice of one’s children. Isaac was no little tyke though – he was old enough and big enough to refuse: “Old man, you’re whacked. I’m out of here.” But he didn’t.

Why was that?

Religion. That’s how it “worked.”

The beauty of the story is that Abraham obeyed God and took Isaac up the mountain. Abe went against what his religious beliefs, though and put down the knife when the angel told him not to harm his son.  He believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.

Had Abe been a religious fanatic, he would have believed that voice to be from the devil – and killed his son, despite the command to stop…

…then lived out his life as a heartbroken, miserable wretch – all the while he would have blamed God and believed Him to be a cruel deity – no different from any other.

This is my story.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the voice of the angel, and “killed” my heart’s desire – music. I did it to “prove” my love to God.

I believe He cried that day.

Happily,  He resurrected my “Isaac” this morning – gave him back. Although I began singing again seven years ago, I secretly believed that God was not pleased – that something terrible was going to happen if I got “good” at music again (which is why I’ve been merely mediocre). I was so wrong – and maligned Him terribly in my ignorance. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy that is new every day!

He has promised to give back the years the locusts have eaten. I can’t wait to see what this is going to look like in my life.

Our “Isaacs” are meant to correct our beliefs about God. They are NOT to be “murdered” in the name of God.  God never wanted me to sacrifice music, never asked this of me. Music was His gift to me…and His gifts are without repentance.

*****

“You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17

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31 responses

9 02 2014
23 06 2013
Guest Spot: Tami from Lessons by Heart- “Is Your Skirt Flapping in the Breeze?” | Being Rebekah

[…] about killing the thing we loved the most to prove our love to God. (You can read the story here: I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice) I quit playing instruments, quit singing, and quit writing […]

11 06 2013
Is Your Skirt Flapping in the Breeze? | Lessons by Heart

[…] about killing the thing we loved the most to prove our love to God. (You can read the story here: https://lessonsbyheart.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/i-offered-the-wrong-sacrifice/) I quit playing instruments, quit singing, and quit writing […]

19 05 2013
I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice! | hisimagenme

[…] I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice!. […]

19 05 2013
buttrflygrl14

Excellent!! LOVED this! Gonna share.
“If someone tells me they don’t believe in god,I say “tell me about him, I probably don’t believe in him either.””
So encouraging! Yes!! Every word came with a whole heart that stood and praised The God of all Creation!! Thank you and many blessings…

12 05 2013
ddclaywriter

Great lesson! So glad you shared about your early views of God and the staunch and wrong views of the church you attended. These and similar issues have caused so many to leave and never return to church.
God’s people often have so much to do that causes people to mistrust the True God who has a great love for all of us.

We all need to be better examples of the One True God.

12 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Yes, we do. I wish it were as easy as just knowing that.

\o/

9 05 2013
Pure Glory

Love to hear how God restored music to you. Misconceptions about the Word can really mess one up. You must have a real lilt to your singing and an extra dimension to your playing on your instruments due to grace and restoration! 😀

9 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Not yet. “Isaac” was young when he was left on the altar. “He’s” got a bit of growing up to do. I have had some amazing break-throughs since then, though.

The years those locusts ate, baby, God’s gonna give ’em all back!

Thanks for your comment!
\o/

9 05 2013
Pure Glory

Isaac was dead in the mind of Abraham before he was bound on the altar. Isaac experienced resurrection life. So too have you had a resurrection of new life to your music. New fire and wind(Holy Spirit) and new passion. By the way, Isaac was about 30 years old when this happened. You have been supernaturally restored.

9 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

You know it…I sang on the worship team the Sunday after this episode. While I was singing, in my mind I saw Jesus walk down the aisle with my long lost friend! I nearly lost it. Our sound guy commented that I sounded different “somehow!” Coincidence? (Not a Kosher word, I know!)

Thanks for your insight concerning this. I’m still trying to work out what exactly happened – without getting overly nutty about it, if you know what I mean.

I love how personal the Lord is with us. Oh how He loves you and me!

\o/

9 05 2013
Pure Glory

Yes, Jesus brought back your friend. Love it! Your gift restored and vibrant. So exciting that Jesus does not leave us in our mess but rescues, resurrects and restores all that was lost with interest. Praise God!

9 05 2013
Jo Yule

What a beautiful thoughtful blog. So glad you know the compassionate , loving Father Jo Yule

9 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

It took Abba a long, long time to convince me of His goodness. It was His faithfulness that won me over, I think!

Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.

Soli Deo Gloria
\o/

27 04 2013
worthless_romantic

In my mind 22:12 and 22:16 debunk this interpretation. He even said it twice.

27 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Which interpretation? I wasn’t sure what you meant.

27 04 2013
worthless_romantic

In those verses God says what His test was about, That Abraham fears God enough to be willing to kill Isaac. In Hebrews it says of Abraham, that he believed God was able to raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill His promise. While I don’t believe you can guilt someone into giving something up using this passage, I also don’t think there is support for the idea that Abraham NOT killing Isaac was the test. My way of thinking goes like this: Abraham fearing God meant to obey Him even though it didn’t make sense and may seem cruel. Abraham obeying meant he feared God. (it’s the whole saved by faith not by works but faith without works is dead paradox) God never told Israel why they couldn’t have bacon, or why look at a snake on a pole. The same thing can be said of us today. Much of what God says to do doesn’t make sense to us but if we fear Him, we will do it and if we do it, that means we fear Him. The hard part for me is losing my life so I can find it.

28 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers: (April 26)

“Take now thy son…and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Genesis 22:2

Character determines how a man interprets God’s will (cf. Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this tradition behind by the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs to be got rid of, e.g., that God removes a child because a mother loves hi too much – a devil’s lie! and a travesty of the true nature of God. If the devil himself can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of wrong traditions about God, he will do so; but if we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.

The great point of Abraham’s faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter to what belief he went contrary. Abraham was not a devotee of his convictions, or he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic. If you will remain true to God, God will lead you straight through every barrier into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself; but here is always this point of giving up convictions and traditional beliefs. Don’t ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did – “I will do anything, I will go to death with Thee.” Abraham did not make such declaration; he remained true to God, and God purified his faith.
***
This was the information upon which I based my post. I could see similarities in this story and my own – but mine had a very different ending – until I read this, and God straightened out some of my bad theology about what He is like, for which I am extremely grateful.

27 04 2013
27 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Wow, thank you so much. I wish I wasn’t such a “blog ‘tard” I’d know what to do with this!

26 04 2013
Timothy Murray

Great post! There is quite a bit of misunderstanding about the Akedah (Binding of Isaac) narrative. I’m glad gave you this insight and you have rediscovered the gift he graciously gave to you. I praise God that he is a god who reveals himself and he is patient, kind and gracious!

26 04 2013
vonhonnauldt

Great post. I pray God blesses you beyond belief with your music. I love to sing and have led music in most of the churches we’ve attended. This incident with Abraham and Isaac troubles many people. If you’re interested, I have a post about them on the blog.

26 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

I’ll come look for it. I’m very interested at this point, having been led so far from the truth by that story. Amazing how messed up we can become when we don’t check things out for ourselves (Acts. 17:11). I certainly do now!

Thanks for your response. Isn’t music the best? And worship is the ultimate, in my book. I’ve been on our church’s worship team for around 7 years…mostly trying to be “seen and not heard.” Bizarre!

26 04 2013
lsgrlr

I’d like to nominate you for a Liebster Award! it’s for those of us with 200 or less followers. Keep up the good work and to find out how to accept, please see my blog post for today! (I don’t really know how many followers you have, but I really like reading blog and wanted to nominate you).

27 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thank you so much. I don’t know how many either – I believe it’s around 50, so the “award police” won’t be arresting you for breaking the law! 😉

27 04 2013
lsgrlr

phew! 🙂

27 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂

26 04 2013
inthepottershands988

Praise God! I’m glad He gave it back to you. Reminds me of a quote from Eric Liddle, the 400 meter gold medal winner of the 1924 Olympics, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” May you feel God’s pleasure as you play for Him!

26 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Oh, I do, I so do! He’s so wonderful. Thanks for responding.

I’m going to put Eric’s quote on a card and keep it with my music stand!

\o/

27 04 2013
Kari Anne Dorstad

Great Blog today. I just picked up your book “Lessons by heart” again. I have about four books going right now. Anyway, I ‘m really enjoying it. Thanks Kari

27 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Kari. It was so fun to see what the Lord has been teaching me all these years.

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