Living through Uncertainties and Contradictions

 Living through Uncertainties and Contradictions
James 2:21-24 
Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In his walk with the Lord, the patriarch Abraham learned that there is a long and winding road between promise and fulfillment. Not because God does not keep His word, but because Abraham and his descendants were charged with bringing something new into the world. A sacred society. A nation formed by covenant. An abandonment of idolatry. A spiritual code of righteous conduct. A more intimate relationship with God than any people had ever known. It would become a nation of pioneers. And God was teaching Abraham from the very beginning that this demands extraordinary strengths of character, because nothing great and transformative happens overnight in the human world. You must keep going, even if you are tired and lost, exhausted and despondent. God will bring about everything He promised. But not immediately. And not directly. God seeks change in the real world of everyday lives. And He seeks those who have the tenacity of faith to keep going despite all the setbacks. That is what the life of Abraham teaches us about faith. Nowhere was this clearer than in relation to God’s promise of children to Abraham (James 2:21-24). 
Four times, God spoke about this to Abraham concerning children, and these promises formed a pathway for Abraham to build a tenacity of faith to keep going despite all the setbacks:
[1] “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.” (Gen. 12:2)
[2] “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” (Gen. 13:16)
[3] “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Gen. 15:5)
[4] “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” (Gen. 17:5-6)
Four ascending promises: a great nation, as many children as the dust of the earth, as the stars of the sky; not one nation but many nations. Abraham heard these promises and had faith in God: “Abram believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).
Then, later in his life God gave Abraham some painful news. His son by Hagar, Ishmael, would not be his spiritual heir. God would bless him and make him a great nation, “But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” (Gen. 17:21). Abraham was forced to release Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness of Paran (Gen. 21:1-21). He had to endure the pain of losing his oldest son. In the process he learned a very valuable lesson – God is the only one who can protect, provide, and prosper his children. The Lord saved Ishmael from death and sustained him in the desert (Gen. 21:17-21).
It is against this background of promises and painful experiences that Abraham’s covenantal faithfulness was tested by the Lord with the chilling words that open Genesis 22: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love – Isaac – and offer him up.” To understand the “Binding of Isaac” in Genesis-22, we must understand the covenantal lessons in the “Loosing of Ishmael” in Genesis-21.  In the “loosing of Ishmael.” Abraham found out that the Lord “saved and resurrected” Ishmael and provided him with a Well of Water (Gen. 21:19) – a lot more than what Abraham could provide for Ishmael (a mere 2-3 gallons water).
The trial of Genesis-22 was not just to see whether Abraham had the strength to give up something he loved. Abraham had shown this time and time again. At the very beginning of his story Abraham gave up his land, his birthplace and his father’s house, everything that was familiar to him, everything that spoke of home. In the chapter-21, he gave up his firstborn son Ishmael whom, it is clear, he also loved very much.  The Genesis-22 trial with Isaac (regarding human sacrifice) was completely abhorrent and contradictory to the Abrahamic covenantal way of life. How could Abraham make sense of this in his walk with the Lord, and submit to this commandment from the Lord? What was the test all about?  
It appears to me that the test of Genesis-22 was to see whether Abraham could live with what seemed to be a clear contradiction between God’s word now (sacrifice of Isaac), and God’s word on five previous occasions, promising him children and a covenant that would be continued by Isaac. The trial of the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) was not merely about sacrifice, it was much more! It was about dealing uncertainties and contradictions within the life of the spirit. Until the trial was over, Abraham did not know what it was mostly about, or how it would end. But he believed that the God who promised him a son would not allow his son to die. But he did not know how the contradiction between God’s promise (the birth of Isaac in Genesis 21) and His command (to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22) would resolve itself. Abraham taught us that faith is not certainty; it is the courage to live with uncertainty by TRUSTING in the FAITHFULNESS of the Lord even when we do not understand His will and His way for our lives. As Abraham completely relied on the faithfulness of the Lord. He understood that the Lord’s promises would come true; and so, he could navigate through the uncertainty of not knowing how or when.
Hebrews 11:17-19 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death."
So, today you may be facing some “uncertainties” and "contradictions” in your life! What the Lord promised you many years ago, and how your life has turned out today may seem to be like a “complete contradiction” to His Word to you from yesterday. But please remember that the “just shall live by faith in His faithfulness…” Hab.2:4b.  As you trust in the Lord with all your heart, and walk in His Word and Way, you will eventually see His promises coming true. In this Abrahamic way of Genesis-22, you can deal with the contradictions and uncertainties of today, not knowing how or when His promises will be fulfilled. But it will!!
WAIT for the Lord! Again, I say, WAIT for the Lord! HE IS FAITHFUL (2 Cor.1:20). When you live your life on Christ’s terms and His way, you can be assured that your circumstances are subject to His change in His time 😊by His Spirit.

Adapted from