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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Journey to the Cross - God Will Send a Lamb

Sacrifice is the act of offering something or someone to a deity in homage. Humans apparently have a need for sacrifice since most religions have practiced some kind sacrificial rites. Sacrifice can also mean to forfeit something highly valued. Parents sacrifice time and money for their children. Soldiers sacrifice their lives for their country. God sacrificed His son for the world. Christians sacrifice our will to the Lamb.

Morning Meditation



Read Isaiah 53:7-10


Isa 53:7-10

He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off — and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true. Still, it's what GOD had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it — life, life, and more life. And GOD's plan will deeply prosper through him. The Message



This ancient prophesy was written centuries before Jesus was born. Ponder the wonder of it all.

• He gave His life as an offering for sin in order to see life come from it. Allow yourself to enjoy life, life, and more life.

• Allow God’s plan “to deeply prosper” through you.





Morning Prayer



Thank God for sending the Lamb.

• Offer everything to the Lamb of God.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.





Morning Bible Study



When we hold on to earthly things too deeply, God may ask us to give them up. When we become willing to release them, God often returns them to us. When we release anything to God, no matter how precious, what God gives in return is better than anything we had before. Confused? Abraham sure was.



God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son for many years. Finally, in their old age, God fulfilled that promise by sending them Isaac. God told Abraham to expect to father a nation through Isaac, but God later asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac’s life to Him.



Notice as you read Genesis 22:1-2 that Abraham could hear God’s voice and responded to Him immediately.



Gen 22:1-2

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, " Abraham!"



And he said, "Here I am."



He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." NASU



What were God’s instructions to Abraham?

• How do you think Abraham felt?

• How would you have felt?




Regardless of how Abraham felt, read his actions in Genesis 22:3-4.



Gen 22:3-4

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. NASU



What did Abraham do?

• What was noticeably missing from this journey?

• Do you think you could have been as obedient as Abraham?




Read Genesis 22:6-7.



Gen 22:6-7

So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!"



And he said, "Here I am, my son."



And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" NASU



Do you think Isaac was alarmed when he questioned his father?



Read Genesis 22:8.



Gen 22:8

Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. NASU



What was Abraham’s answer?

• How do you think Abraham was feeling as they walked together?

• How would you feel as you took what you thought was your last walk with your only son?




Read Genesis 22:9-10.

Gen 22:9-10

Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. NASU



What did Abraham do next?

• How do you think he felt as he bound Isaac?

• How do you think Isaac was feeling?




Abraham got a reprieve. This story is foreshadowing God’s sacrifice for the world but His son got no reprieve. Read Genesis 22:11-12.



Gen 22:11-12

But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"



And he said, "Here I am."



He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." NASU



What do you think Abraham was thinking and feeling as the angel of the Lord spoke?

• Do you think it was easier to untie Isaac then it was to tie him?




Read Genesis 22:13-14.



Gen 22:13-14

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. NASU



How do you think Abraham and Isaac felt when they saw the ram?

• A sacrifice was still necessary. How willing do you think the ram was to be sacrificed?




Most likely, Abraham was weak with relief to be returning home with his beloved son. God had put him through an ordeal. When Abraham chose obedience and put God ahead of His son, God’s grace allowed Abraham to keep his son. When God asks much, He also offers much. Read Genesis 22:15-17.



Gen 22:15-17

Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you. NASU



What was the promise?

• How did that promise come true?




The words Passover Lamb is in the Bible many times. It was used during religious celebrations, as atonement for sin, and as protection. Read Exodus 12:21-22.



Ex 12:21-22

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. NASUKJV



What where the Israelites to do with the blood of the lamb?



Read Exodus 12:23-24.



Ex 12:23-24

For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. NASU



How does the blood protect them?



Read the words of John the Baptist in John 1:29.



John 1:29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. KJV



What does John the Baptist call Jesus?

• What was the role of the Lamb?

• Why do you think Jesus is called the Lamb of God?




Like the ancient Israelites, protected by the blood of the Passover Lamb, the blood of Jesus protects us. Sing with the angels as your read Revelations 5:12.



Rev 5:12

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." NASU



Because of the grace of Jesus, we no longer have to sacrifice blood from a lamb or any other animal. The lamb has been slain, His blood protectively on our foreheads. The Lord will pass by our door and not allow the destroyer to come into our house to smite us. Worthy is the Lamb!


Application



A year after I lost my job, Bob lost his job. We were expecting it and Bob was even excited. We had our plans. We were going to sell our house and move to a university town, where Bob would get a PhD in robotics. Bob had dreamed about it for years. The day Bob got the news his job had ended he celebrated and I cried.



I wasn’t as happy. “I love my house,” I moaned as I sat looking at the shimmering waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. I argued with Bob and God but both insisted we put the house up for sale.



I whined to my friends but they took God’s side. “You shouldn’t love something that can’t love you back,” a friend said.



“You’ll have another house that you love just as much,” another comforted. I was miserable. It took weeks before I finally surrendered to God and allowed the “For Sale” sign to go in the front yard.



As people began to look at our house, I felt pain accompanied by peace. I knew I had done the right thing. God’s will had become more important than our house. Then, just as suddenly as God had said to sell the house, God whispered to our spirits, “Keep your house.”



Bob and I both heard that Still Small Voice but by this time, Bob and I had a firm plan and struggled to change it. My realtor was my best friend and she had gone to a lot trouble to list it so I was embarrassed to back out. I hate looking indecisive. As Bob and I discussed keeping the house, our fears took over. How could we afford it without jobs? Were we hearing God correctly?



God just kept saying the same thing. “Keep your house.”



In desperation, or possibly lack of faith, we asked God for a specific sign. Within moments of that prayer, we went outside and there was a double rainbow directly over our home. It didn’t touch anyone else’s house. We were so astounded we took pictures. We called our realtor and took the house off the market.



Bob has almost finished his PhD. We haven’t missed a single house payment. This house has appreciated more than our take-home salaries would have been had we worked during those few years. God faithfully provided a way to keep the house.



I now realize that to keep the house, I had to be willing to let it go. God and I both had to know that I loved following Him more than that house. When I finally turned the house over to God, He told us to keep it. That house is now God’s house and we offer it in service, any way He chooses. Four churches regularly use it for Bible Studies and retreats. We spend half of our time in the college town but our house usually stays filled with people. I don’t know how long we’ll have that house but it is surrendered to God.



Today, what is more important to you than the will of God? Surrender it and allow God provide a Lamb.

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