Two patriarchs were beloved by God.
Two patriarchs were rich with crops and livestock galore.
Two patriarchs lived in the same region and in the same period of earth’s history.
Two patriarchs had deep, profound relationships with the Divine and heard His very voice.
Yet one was the father of many, who eventually became alone. Another was a father of one, who would eventually become many. One had a whole book ascribed to him. The other was mentioned relatively shortly, but his descendants become the main characters of the Bible. One was called perfect and made an example in front of the universe. The other was called a friend of God and made a blessing before all the nations.
But in the end, both were asked to sacrifice and suffer.
Job was a man that feared God, perfect, upright, and eschewed evil. Yet when his children, household, goods, and health were taken away, he grieves and mourns for two chapters, seeking death. His three friends come to argue incorrectly that Job had done something wrong, making false metaphysical and ethical statements about good and evil. After rebuking each friend in a cycle of three debates, God finally spoke to him.
Between chapters 38 and 39, God conclusively proved that man could not understand everything and sought obedience from humanity. There is no personal advantage in obedience. There is no understandable rationale in obedience. Reason and rationale have limitations. Obedience does not.
Abraham was a man that also feared God and called the friend of God. He was to be the father of God’s people, protecting and guarding of the sacred law. To him were promised more descendants that the night stars and the sands of the sea. But in chapter 22 of Genesis, God also asked to take his child away.
Though one child, the wages were more circumstantial than the situation of Job. Though Job had seven sons, three daughters, 7000 sheep, 300 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and a large staff, more promises were encapsulated in the person of Isaac. Isaac was the child of promise, the child of impossibilities, the progenitor of a people numbering more than the night stars and sands of the sea. This child was birthed from his parents’ laughter, prematurely caused the birth of a rival nation, and the object of anxiety and hope for more than 20 tired and elderly years.
Taking the life of this child should have caused more mourning than Job’s loss. This was an action that was highly un-understandable. Abraham should have been asking questions, grieving, mourning, seeking death, escape, alternatives, and answers.
Yet what is so disturbing about chapter 22 is that there is no indication of these signs. Whereas Job has more than thirty chapters devoted to complaining and discussion, there is not even one verse attributed for this avenue. Rather, we see a methodical step-by-step journey to the top of Moriah, only to worship. We hear a silent hike up the mountain. We only smell the fire burning on top of the altar. We do not see any rationalization, cursing God, hint of bitterness, seeking of alternatives, discussions, questionings of misunderstanding. We see obedience. This unrational (not irrational) obedience is so disturbing that the violence of a son’s murder by his father does not phase us. Maybe Abraham knew something about faith that Job did not.
You see, Christians do not sacrifice and suffer. We serve a Lord that owns all and does not know material loss. Christians do not sacrifice and suffer; Christians merely obey. We may either mourn for 30+ chapters or walk silently up a mountain, but the outcome is the same. Obedience never needs to be understood, just done. The world calls this foolishness, but there is no personal advantage in obedience. Even though we may not understand ourselves, we must keep walking and say, “I will follow thee, my Savior.” This is what Jesus did every hour of His life.
You see, there is a secret that every Christ-follower knows: Christ Himself. And when you know Him, you’ll love Him. And when you love Him, you don’t think about obeying Him…you just do.