“Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest … and offer him there for a burnt offering …” (Genesis 22:2).
Can you imagine how difficult it was for Abraham to take the three-day journey to Mount Moriah knowing that he would have to offer his son to God upon the altar? I can’t even begin to imagine the agony of that three-day journey. How about every time his son Isaac started talking to him? How about those moments when they sat by a campfire and their eyes caught one another’s?
It had to be heart-wrenching to say the least!
Most of us would have to readily admit, it wouldn’t only be difficult, but nigh impossible for us to be willing to do what Abraham was willing to do. At the same time, it would be good for us to keep in mind that each of us has an Isaac or two in our life. Isaac is a PERSON, a PLACE, or a THING that we have, over the years, come to love. In many cases, it is SOMEONE or SOMETHING that God has blessed us with. But over time, it has taken a place in our heart that is reserved for Christ, and Christ alone.
Whether we know it or not, or whether we will admit it or not, for many of us, our Isaac has become an idol in our life! Isaac has come between us and loving God supremely. Isaac has come between making Christ pre-eminent and leaving him simply as prominent in our life. Isaac (person, place, or thing) has come between us going where God would have us go, and do what God would have use to do.
It might not be a bad time, at the beginning stages of a New Year to be brutally honest with ourselves and God, when asking Him to reveal the Isaac or Isaac’s in our life. As one author penned:
Our contemporary society is not fundamentally different from these ancient ones. Each culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each has its “priesthoods,” its totems and rituals. Each one has its shrines— whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios, or stadiums— where sacrifices must be made in order to procure the blessings of the good life and ward off disaster. What are the gods of beauty, power, money, and achievement but these same things that have assumed mythic proportions in our individual lives and in our society? We may not physically kneel before the statue of Aphrodite, but many young women today are driven into depression and eating disorders by an obsessive concern over their body image. We may not actually burn incense to Artemis, but when money and career are raised to cosmic proportions, we perform a kind of child sacrifice, neglecting family and community to achieve a higher place in business and gain more wealth and prestige. … When most people think of “idols” they have in mind literal statues— or the next pop star anointed by Simon Cowell. Yet while traditional idol worship still occurs in many places of the world, internal idol worship, within the heart, is universal. In Ezekiel 14: 3, God says about elders of Israel, “These men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols.” God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.
There are many potential Isaac’s on the horizon. Family, friends, future ambitions, financial security, and, even, your favored ministry. Might be time to do a thorough examination of ourselves!
When we surrender ourselves wholly to God, and place our Isaac-that person, place, or thing, which we love-on the altar, it becomes the truest form of worship we can offer up to God (Genesis 22:5; Romans 12:1-2).
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Just taking a few moments to reflect on a common problem we all struggle with!