by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
The problem of addiction to sin and its underlying selfish ambition is that our addictions are the product of idolizing and therefore worshiping self. This is the MEdom condition each of us find ourselves in. MEdom is my addiction to me. The human tragedy of MEdom is that we are so arrogant and sick in our addiction to self that we build an altar to our addiction as part of the worship ritual, routine, habit, or what ever you choose to call it. On the altar built to “satisfy” our god of addiction, are things most precious to us. We will place our families – our children – on the altar of addiction as a burnt offering to this god. At the prison I work at the men have even placed their freedom on the altar of their addiction to be sacrificed along with their families.
You worship your idols with great passion
beneath the oaks and under every green tree.
You sacrifice your children down in the valleys,
among the jagged rocks in the cliffs.
Your gods are the smooth stones in the valleys.
You worship them with liquid offerings and grain offerings.
Let’s see if your idols can save you
when you cry to them for help.
Why, a puff of wind can knock them down!
If you just breathe on them, they fall over!
But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land
and possess my holy mountain.”
God says, “Rebuild the road!
Clear away the rocks and stones
so my people can return from captivity.”
The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
“I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:5-6, 13-15 (NLT)
We are blessed to be given another chance at freedom since God replaced our sacrifice with that of His very begotten Son to be the sacrifice for sin once and for all. What a gracious and generous gift. So, what’s the catch? The catch is that He leaves it up to us to tear down the altar we have built to honor the god of self, the false god we have erected before Almighty God. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to reject the gift of God’s Son Jesus in favor of our selfish sin addiction. And yet we do. Unbelievable, isn’t it. But true. God gives us a way out so that we won’t to sacrifice any more since our sacrifice is insufficient anyway. All we have to do is let go of the distractions. Abraham also was given a substitute for sacrifice but he had to be willing to let go of his promised Isaac to receive the greater promise.
Abraham of the Old Testament had finally received the blessing of the promised son. He had toiled for years, agonizing over the unmet expectation he had that God would make it possible for Abraham’s barren wife Sarah to become pregnant fulfilling God’s promise. At one point, Abraham compromised waiting for God’s promise, and ventured on his own at the request of his wife, Sarah, to lay down with his wife’s Egyptian maidservant Hagar. Abraham came to believe that this was necessary to have the promised son from Almighty God through Hagar to carry on his family’s legacy. Apparently, what God intended was that Abraham commit adultery to fulfill the will of God. At least, that’s how Abraham played it out in his mind to justify hastening the blessing of the promised son. Okay, maybe legally it wasn’t adultery since Sarah declared that Hagar become Abraham’s wife. Let’s see how that worked itself out.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife.
So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. Genesis 16:1-6 (NLT)
Hagar did indeed have a son who we know to be Ishmael. Abraham’s choice to be with Hagar was about going his own way—his clever idea to carry out the willful purpose and plan of God, independent of God. His choice still carries severe consequences to this day as the root of the violent ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Abraham’s unwillingness to wait on the promise in the plan of God was due to his selfish desires and motivations. He too fell prey to the MEdom urge and craving to for instant gratification. Abraham in his haste may have delayed the plan of God. Abraham’s son Isaac, the promised son of God, would be born from Sarah some fifteen years later.
Abraham was then reminded by God who his son belonged to. According to the story in Genesis 22, Abraham was ordered to bring his son Isaac to the mountainous region of Moriah to prepare an offering to be sacrificed unto God. At one point young Isaac even got curious and asked, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham told Isaac that God would provide it. Then, once the altar was built, Isaac was bound and laid onto the altar to be sacrificed. Just then, the Angel of the Lord called out to Abraham and presented to him the lamb that was to be sacrificed instead of Isaac. It would be through Isaac’s son Jacob that the nation of Israel would be born.
This was an exercise in letting go and committing to recovery God’s way. God did not change his mind about Isaac. The human sacrifice of Isaac was never God’s intention. Abraham needed to learn that everything is God’s. All that Abraham possessed was given to him by God. God is in authority and control and has the power over everything. We must learn this as well. It is not that God merely claims everything; it is all his, period. God, on the other hand wants so much to freely give to us all that is his. When God then does bless us, we have a tendency to give way to sin and patterns of sinful behavior, therefore, corrupting and perverting the provisional blessings and prosperity of God. Each time this sequence occurs, we’re in trouble. Overwhelmed by the selfish ambitious nature as human beings, our lives get complicated. Abraham’s life became difficult as well as he became impatient in his faith in God to provide and did things his own way. Abraham needed to let go of his desire for a son and let God do rightly what only God can do rightly. When God does a thing it is the best thing.
Abraham did come to a place where he was willing to be completely obedient to the will of God and was willing to the point of sacrificing the son that had been promised to him. He taught Isaac well and even Isaac (who had grown up) was complicit in obediently serving the will of the Lord to the point of humbly laying down his ambitious wants and needs. He (Jesus) carried the wood on his back that would become the would he would be laid out on as the son sacrificed by the father.
To more fully appreciate what went into Abraham’s obedience to the point of sacrificing his promised son to be fully obedient to the call and plan of God, please view this video.
Abraham and Isaac humbly sacrificed everything in obedience to the will of God. Isaac would not have to give up his life. Is it possible that part of the logic in testing Abraham’s unwavering obedience was the disappointment of Abraham and Sarah’s disobedience that led to the birth of Ishmael? It’s what evoked confusion and division regarding the state of Israel. Abraham would prove himself worthy of the blessing as the father of nations. God provided the blood sacrificed to Abraham and Isaac as atonement for sin and an expression of worship.
Atonement for sin requires a blood sacrifice. God would again provide the sacrifice, this time for you and for me when it came time for us to be sacrificed on the alter for our sin. Jesus carried the wood on his back to be laid out upon that wood as the necessary sacrifice so that we would be spared. Even for God to become flesh in the person of Jesus required sacrifice. God would let go of His precious son and Jesus would let go of who He was as God to fully experience His humanity in order to suffer tragically on the cross and in the grave. The sacrifice by Abraham of Isaac was prophetic to what God would do when we needed Him most.
Why is it so difficult to let go of an irrational belief of entitlement that opens the door for God to bless and prosperous as we get to experience His good pleasure? Central to receiving the prosperity of God’s grace is the act of surrender. It may go against certain sensibilities to let go as the condition to get back, but it is the promise and premise of a healthy fruitful life in relationship with Jesus Christ.
What or who is your Isaac, today? Your Isaac might be your spouse and your children. Your Isaac might be your home, your job, your finances, and your health. It might be all that satisfies you in this life. It might be all that you yearn for in the flesh as well as all you need and desire in the spirit. It might be all of your ups and your downs. It might be all that strengthens you and all that weakens you. It might be in your laughter and your tears. Your Isaac can be any of it and all of it. Your Isaac is all that has value and worth to you. Your Isaac comes from God and belongs to God. Are you willing to let it go voluntarily in your service and obedience to God in your recovery, or will you put it on God to put your willingness to let go to the test?
Will you build an altar before the throne of grace where Christ is and offer him all that you care about? It’s all His anyway. Jesus died to free us from all that binds us, but we have taken quite a bit if it back. Offer him your body, heart, soul, and mind. Offer yourself to God as a sacrifice to be used by him to accomplish his purposeful plans for your life today.
Let go, since you have no authority over any of it anyway, and let God take care of it all. He will provide the lamb. He will make a way. Give God your husband, your wife. Give God your kids. Give God your home and your career. Give God your health and the health of your family. Is it better off in your care or his care? As you surrender it all unto him, you can trust him to direct you onto the best path for you, your family, and everything you hold dear.