And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

COMMENTARY

And he gave him tithes of all
Lay not thine hand upon the lad…for now I know that thou fearest God

We commonly say that God required Abraham to sacrifice his son, but that is not true. What God required was for Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son. It might seem a subtle distinction, but I believe it is significant.

  1. In the end, Abraham did sacrifice his tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Nothing was held back.
  2. In the end, Abraham did not sacrifice his son. He was held back from actually following through.

Now I don’t mean to discount the mental anguish that Abraham must have faced just by preparing to sacrifice his son. It surely was immense. Even so, it would seem that Abraham was able to recover from it. His life went on, and he continued faithful to the Lord.
I believe that much of the fear I have had in regards to sacrifice is that I don’t want God to break me by mistake. We have all manner of people who ask things of us: parents, teachers, friends, spouses; and even the ones that mean well sometimes ask more than they know, sometimes they hurt us in ways that they shouldn’t.
When we see this failing in those around us it can be easy to project the same fear onto God. What if he asks more of us than He should and accidentally damages us in irreparable ways? It is a misplaced fear, though, for He knows our own limits better than even we do! He knows what He should ask of us, and He knows what He should not. He will test us and He will bend us, but through it all He will maintain utmost respect for our tender hearts.

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