January 21

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) 1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

Isaac was one of the greatest foreshadows of Christ. Throughout this story, we have pictures of what will happen in the life of Jesus. Isaac's birth was miraculous. He is the son of promise, the only son, whom his father loved. On the mountain Moriah (same place Jesus was sacrificed), he carried the wood for his execution. Since Abraham is well over 100, I assume the boy was willingly bound by his father, just as Jesus willingly went to the cross. We will not read of Isaac again until he receives his bride. These are amazing parallels for us to see that God is in the details and knows the end from the beginning.

In this passage, God is said to test Abraham. God does not tempt us, but He does test us (James 1:13). God will test us to strengthen our resolve and to help us realize where we are in our growth in Him. His tests help us get off the fence and stand squarely in the kingdom of God.

He calls us by name. He speaks just as clearly today as He did to Abraham. What seemed like a great burden, and to be inconsistent with God's character, turned out to be a great blessing. It is now a great badge of honor that Abraham believed God's promise to the extent that he knew God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). He told his servants "WE will return to you (22:5)."

Consider: What has God promised you? Will you lay it down and trust God to bring it about in His way and time? Can you surrender it back to God, like faithful Abraham did?

January 21

Malachi 4:2, 5-6 (NIV) 2But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

5"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, andthe hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

The Old Testament closes with promises. Those who revere the name of the LORD can know the sun of righteousness will rise upon them with healing in its wings. In the Revelation given to John, he saw the heavenly city did not need light, for the Lamb was the light of it. Those who revere the name of our eternal God can look forward with hope to the reign of Jesus, to living in the presence of God.

The final words predict the next prophet, the final person to hold the office of prophet in the Old Testament sense. Jesus declared that John the Baptist was Elijah (Matthew 11:13,14). He comes again before the Day of Judgment. The reason he comes is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. John's message was one of repentance. He called on people to deal with heart issues that blocked the way of the Messiah's entrance into their hearts. They were to have a change in the way they thought.

We expect children to be rebellious and for fathers to have little devotion to their children, but this is not God's intention. In fact, it is the reason He will smite the land with a curse. Parents are to nurture their children, and children are to honor their parents. This is a reflection of God's relationship with us. Being right with God includes right family relationships.

Consider: Are your family relationships a picture of heavenly relationships? If they aren't, what changes do you need to make?