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God’s wake-up call

Passage for the Day: GENESIS 22:1–18

Verse for the Day: GENESIS 22:12

Before I owned a cell phone equipped with an alarm feature, when I was staying at a hotel I would call the front desk, asking for a “wake-up call.” You can still get these from a computer program that the hotels have, but at one point in my career they actually had people calling to wake up residents. I always wondered what it would be like to be the guy who made these early morning telephone calls. Ordinarily, we are embarrassed when we call someone and accidentally disrupt their peaceful sleep.

“Did I wake you up?” you ask your friend who’s desperately trying to mask the fact that only moments before, he was completely comatose.

“No, that’s okay,” your friend diplomatically answers. “I had to get up to answer the phone anyway.”

In yesterday’s reading, we celebrated the miracle of the birth of your child. But today, like the poor guy who had the “privilege” to stir everyone’s luxurious slumber, God sent Abraham a wake-up call . . . and the ringing got his attention.

Abraham had literally waited a lifetime for the birth of Isaac. He must have been thrilled beyond description. Can’t you imagine how he spontaneously told everyone—whether they wanted to hear it or not—how this boy was born to such an old man? How Abraham must have proudly pointed out young Isaac to anyone who would listen: “See that boy over there? That’s my boy.”

Then came the contemptuous “ringing phone” from the heavens. Go back and read verse two . . . “Take your son . . . whom you love . . . sacrifice him . . . as a burnt offering.” What kinds of thoughts must have crashed through Abraham’s conscious mind? Kill my son? Why? How? This must have dazed him—gripped his heart like nothing ever had before.

The text doesn’t give us any clues to what was actually going on in Abraham’s mind, but as dads, we can only imagine the trauma. I’ve spent my life waiting for this child, and now you want me to kill him? I’d give my life for him, and you want me to snuff his out? Seriously?

What was God up to? Why did He put Abraham through this horrific experience? Was this some sort of cruel celestial prank? No, actually it wasn’t.

There’s a principle that runs throughout this Bible that you and I must understand. Everything we have in our lives—our families and extended families, our possessions . . . even our own lives—is a miraculous gift to us from our Heavenly Father. “Children are . . . a reward from him,” (Psalm 127:3) and “You are not your own; you were bought at a price,” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20) make this truth abundantly clear. And just like Abraham understood, since God has given us all we have, we must also surrender all to Him in faith and obedience. Just like Abraham, the most valuable thing you and I have is our friendship with a holy God.

In this story we see a gripping sequence of four snapshots of Abraham as a dad: Proud—have you seen my greatest treasure?; Bewildered—what does this mean?; Obedient—I hold your reward with open hands; and Grateful—thank you, God, for your miraculous gift of this boy.

Today’s wake-up call contains the following messages: Our children are on loan to us from the Creator of the universe. Our charge is to trust Him to take excellent care of His treasured property.

Copyright © 1999, 2014 by Robert D. Wolgemuth.

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