Thank you for continuing into another week of our family’s seven-year-old tradition! Here is today’s Calendar (click on the image below for more information):
December 8th | When God Comes First
Bible Background: Isaac and Jesus were both “only sons” (Isaac’s older brother Ishmael had been kicked out of Abraham’s camp earlier) and they are both involved with covenant. Because of this Isaac is called a “picture” or “type” of Christ; God asked Abraham to act out what would happen to Jesus in the future so we would understand what to expect. God was moved by Abraham’s willingness to submit to His plan to sacrifice an only son. That plan was ultimately carried out in the same geographic location, but many hundreds of years later, by Jesus.
Bible Study Question: What did Abraham think would happen to Isaac after he was sacrificed? How is this similar to what happened to Jesus?
Today’s Main Idea: Abraham believed God would give him a son…but he had to wait fifteen years before Isaac was born. Abraham had to go through a lot of stressful situations while he was waiting. Finally he had a son! It would have been easy to think that Isaac was the solution to all of his problems, but Abraham never forgot that it was God who gave him a son in the first place. Abraham was willing to keep God first even if it meant giving up the rights to his only son.
Jesus is God’s only Son. When we see the story of Isaac and the ram, we can understand through Abraham’s eyes how God the Father must have felt to see his only Son die to save us from sin. God had no intention of letting Abraham kill Isaac; He was only testing His obedience, to see if Abraham truly believed in the Promise He had given to him. Abraham did not have the Bible to look at so the request was a true test. Now that we have the Bible, God will never ask us to disobey it; such a request is not a true test from God because the Bible already has the answers! Even without the Bible and the benefit of the Gospels specifically, Abraham still believed in the resurrection of his son and the coming of the Christ to atone for all sin. Abraham learned a lot on Mount Moriah; for his obedience, he had a chance to peer into the future through the sacrifice of an only son.
Application: At Christmas, we look to many things to make us happy (and aren’t we easily irritated when they aren’t done “right”!). There are occasions when those things are taken away from us. Joblessness may require that we do Christmas on a much tighter budget; a broken-down car may interrupt our annual plans to visit a relative; an illness may cause us to not be able to participate in the festivities at all. In all of these difficulties, is God first? Is He the Source of our happiness, or have we put the Christmas blessings He has given us above Him? Abraham was willing to part with his son because he believed it would only be temporary; he didn’t doubt God’s benevolent nature and he trusted God’s promise that Isaac would be his heir. When things go wrong this Christmas–from the smallest expectation left unmet to the largest disappointment possible–we are being tested where our priorities really lie. Is our priority the Christ of Christmas or our own entertainment? The good news is that Jesus can be with us even in the most modest of celebrations (He was born in a stable, after all!), the worst of circumstances (an unwed mother who traveled by donkey), and the deepest of weaknesses (God Almighty came to us as a vulnerable, naked infant!) Your experience of Christmas this year may be truer to the original one (!); if Abraham’s experience is anything to go by, it will bring you closer to the real Christ than you have ever been before!
Prayer: Father God, everything comes from You, even I! Thank you for being the Source of all blessing. Help me to keep You first; there is more joy in knowing Jesus than in all the happenstance of Christmas. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.
Family Activity: Clean out your closet! Help your children to go through their rooms and separate their belongings (toys, clothes, hobbies, etc) into three piles: one pile of belongings that are used regularly, one pile of belongings that are retained for sentimental reasons but are rarely used, and one pile of belongings that aren’t used very often. Help your children to give the third pile away to charity, put the second pile away neatly and store to go through later, and share the first pile with siblings and friends. Remind your children that by putting our possessions in their proper place, we can keep God in His: first place! He wants us to give, share and enjoy!
If you enjoyed today’s ADVENT post, please share using one of the many features below. Thanks!