Our earthly lives revolve around the people we love and the things we enjoy. However, someday the Lord may step into our contented, predictable lives and say, “Let go!” As we’ll discover in this message, that day came for Abraham…and then some.
The world in which we dwell focuses on the negative. Weather forecasters speak of a 30 per cent chance of rain. Why not a 70 per cent chance of sunshine? Movies and television delight in exposing the dirty, disgusting underbelly of society. Why not use media to paint a hopeful picture of how the world could be?
If we are not careful we could easily get the impression that adolescence is a disease with headaches and heartaches, pressure and pain as its only symptoms. Not so! Adjustments and struggles may be present, but not to the exclusion of tremendous growth and remarkable achievements. These can be some of the most exciting years of one's spiritual pilgrimage.
Letting go is always difficult. And the closer we are to the thing (or person) being released, the more difficult it is to let go. We must hold everything loosely. Some of the most poignant examples of letting go come in the context of parent-child relationships. Upon receiving God’s command to offer his son as a sacrifice, Abraham let Isaac go and obeyed without resistance, illustrating his allegiance to God above all.
The longer Abraham lived, the more he learned to take God literally, trust Him thoroughly, and obey Him eagerly. As the aging Patriarch approached the twilight of his life, he turned his attention to finding a lifelong companion for his son, Isaac.
Though a twin, he was quite the opposite of his younger brother and ultimately became the heartache of the family. Ripped off by his brother and rejected by his family, he couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. As we shall soon discover, the Bible pulls no punches. And you may find several places in this story where you can identify with Esau, “the son who couldn’t win.”
We know that we are all sinful and in need of salvation, but often, we fail to consider that we bear the specific “bents” of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. When we think about it, all of us must admit the direct link between the people we have become and the lives of those who formed our heritage—for good and for ill.
Playing favourites is nothing new. In fact, the Old Testament story of Jacob and Esau describes a family torn apart by favouritism. Parents and teachers today can learn from this family story—favouritism causes division that continues for generations.
As Abraham neared the sunset of his life, he clearly didn’t waste his retirement years sitting around feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he lived his last years to their fullest. From his example, we can learn a lot about ending well and finishing strong.
The biography of Joseph is nothing short of remarkable, occupying as much or more space in Genesis than the biographies of Adam, Noah, Abraham, or even his father, Jacob. Joseph emerges from the pages of Scripture as a man with whom most of us can identify. Over his long life, Joseph responded to broken dreams and impossible circumstances with a faith that propelled him from the pit of slavery to the pinnacle of power.