Have you ever had a broken heart? Haven’t we all fallen in love and had the necklace you bought that special girl hung on your locker after 4th period for everyone to see…oh wait, maybe that was just me.
Anyway, we all remember a broken heart or two. As the twins turn two this week, I realize they are growing up fast. Some days I long for them to eat without ending up with food in their hair but other days I want time to slow down. It won’t be long and they will get their hearts broken and mine will break with them. What will I say?
I’ll probably ask Teelie, “What’s the guy’s address?” I’m kidding. And I’ll probably tell Jaren about my necklace on the locker experience so he knows I can relate.
But I hope I tell both of them, “I love you and hang in there.”
At Shueyville UMC we’ve been reading Genesis, and there are points in this book that we have to wonder why God stuck with Abraham. I mean, he repeatedly pawns his wife off as his sister, sleeps with his wife’s servant to try to continue his family name, and doesn’t trust what God promised. Why does God keep wanting to bless this guy?! Maybe we are reading with the wrong perspective.
Genesis 22 gets even more twisted. Suddenly, Abraham decides to trust God and sacrifice his only son. Sarah and Abraham were way past child-bearing age when the heir to the promise, Isaac, was born. Most of us would be overly-protective of this child. Abraham decides to go ahead and sacrifice him. Baffling.
If we read Genesis and focus on Abraham, we will be sorely disappointed. He fails and keeps getting chances. He shows faith when Isaac’s life is on the line but when his was threatened he put his wife at risk. Wrong perspective.
Remember, perspective matters.
Genesis isn’t primarily about Abraham. It’s about God, and God stays faithful even when we fail! When we read the Bible, we are learning about God. That happens through the lives of many people, but it often happens despite their shortcomings. That’s precisely the point. When we have the right perspective on the story, we discover that God’s grace and love isn’t thwarted by our mistakes.
As Christians, we read the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. We have a unique perspective. We know the end, and so when we go back and read we see allusions to Jesus all over the place. Perspective matters.
Read Genesis 22:1-14 below.
After these events, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”
Abraham answered, “I’m here.”
2 God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” 3 Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him.
4 On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place at a distance. 5 Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will walk up there, worship, and then come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the entirely burned offering and laid it on his son Isaac. He took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?”
Abraham said, “I’m here, my son.”
Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the entirely burned offering?”
8 Abraham said, “The lamb for the entirely burned offering? God will see to it, my son.” The two of them walked on together.
9 They arrived at the place God had described to him. Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 But the Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham? Abraham?”
Abraham said, “I’m here.”
12 The messenger said, “Don’t stretch out your hand against the young man, and don’t do anything to him. I now know that you revere God and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the dense underbrush. Abraham went over, took the ram, and offered it as an entirely burned offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham named that place “the Lord sees.” That is the reason people today say, “On this mountain the Lord is seen.”
Did the Jesus perspective open your eyes?
Isaac carried the wood for the altar up the mountain to the place of his possible death. Jesus also carried his wooden cross up to the place of his death.
Did you notice that God DIDN’T end up asking for Abraham’s only son? God provided a ram/lamb instead. And eventually God put his son, Jesus, the Lamb of God in our place on the cross. Do you see it now?
And when Isaac asks his father where the lamb was for their offering Abraham responded, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” And God did. There was a ram in the underbrush hundreds of years later there was Jesus.
This isn’t just a weird ask by God. This isn’t just some pointless test of Abraham’s faith. Perspective matters. We can see the whole picture reading it through the lens of Jesus. And what an amazing and layered story it is.
I know we don’t always know why things happen. We don’t get to write our stories or predict the next plot twist. You know, the story God is writing isn’t even about you or me. It’s about God’s love and grace, and we are the flawed characters God is working through. Wow, that perspective changes everything.
Those high school broken hearts…well when I look at my wife I finally understand. God sees what we couldn’t even imagine. Perspective matters.