Who do you love the most? Some of the first thoughts that might cross your mind are your spouse, your children, or your parents. These answers all seem pretty normal, and not abnormal whatsoever by societal standards. By and large, looking at any top ten list of core American values, family is almost guaranteed to take the top spot. Yet, we learn from today’s reading that although family is important, our ultimate love should be a love for God.
God puts Abraham to the ultimate test. Do I follow God’s call to obedience or do I save the life of my son? This is a situation no parent wants to be in, and it was particularly hard for Abraham. We read earlier in the book of Genesis that God forms a covenant with Abraham promising that he will “be the father of many nations” and that his “descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them” (Genesis 17:3). But it took many years before Abraham and his wife Sarah would have a child. They trusted the faithfulness of God, living in steadfast obedience to the commands of His covenant. And, as God so often does, He showed up when they least expected it, blessing Abraham and Sarah in old age with their son Isaac.
Isaac and his parents certainly had a special connection. He was a blessing they were promised, yet it’s likely safe to say one they weren’t expecting at such an old age. It is no coincidence the first time the word love is used in the Bible is during God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham truly loved his son.
While we may think this request sounds ridiculous, if not abusive, Abraham recognized God’s will is good. He knew the Lord requires utter devotion, and following His will ultimately leads to joy. It was faithfulness to the Lord that brought the joy of Isaac into their lives, and Abraham knew it would be faithfulness that would see them through with joy even with this hard request.
Our lesson today is a difficult one, and I am praying for you now as you process this passage. How can family possibly be an idol you might be thinking? It all goes back to the question-who do you love the most? Pause for a moment and listen to your heart. If deep down the answer is anyone but the Lord, the person(s) has become a god of their own in your life.