“Children’s Message: The Sacrifice of Isaac”:
“Hello children of God. I want you to try something for me. I have this jar and we are going to fill it up with some stuff. So the first thing I want you to pour into the jar is this cup of rice. Easy enough, right? All right, oh the rice into the jar. Okay, now the next thing that you need to fit in this same jar are these rocks. I have several rocks to put in here. So now I want you to put the rocks into the jar of the rice. Some there, well sort of, um… it doesn’t quite seem like they’re gonna fit, does it? Um, well I don’t think they’re all… I’ve still got some rocks left over here. I don’t know if I can fit them all in the same jar or the rice. Hmm, well that’s tricky. Let’s try something else. Let’s take out the rocks and let’s take out the rice and then I’m gonna try a different order of things. How about that? Let’s try getting this all out of there and you’re going to put the rocks in first. Just a minute, let’s just give that a shot. So in go the rocks. With all those rocks in there, it doesn’t seem likely that this rice could really fit, but let’s give it a shot. Huh, well what do you know about that? When I put the rocks in first, the rice filled in the cracks and it fit just fine.
You know, sometimes this is how our lives are. See, we think we have to do so many things and we get busy and we get frustrated and sometimes we forget or miss out on what’s really important. In our lives are so busy with stuff, we neglect the things that really should come first. And we put the most important things first, the rest will follow. God wants to be first in our lives. He wants to be the number one priority, the most important thing that we make time for, that we prepare for, that we love and serve. And sometimes, sometimes that can be confusing or hard. Sometimes God might ask us to do things that we don’t understand or God might ask us to do things that require sacrificing. Sometimes putting him first means giving up something else that we might really enjoy or love. But he wants to be the number one and he wants us to trust him because he promises that when we do love him first, that when we trust him Above All Else, that great blessings will come out of it.
This reminds me of a story in the Bible. Now we talked a little bit ago about a man named Abraham and how he waited a long time for this promise of a son. God had promised him a son and later on Isaac was born. Well, of course, Abraham loved Isaac very, very much because he had waited for this son for a long time and he was very special to him. Well then one day God came to Abraham and he said, ‘Abraham, I want you to take your son Isaac, that son that you waited for, that I gave you, that is your only son who you really, really love. I want you to take him and I want you to go and sacrifice him and kill him.’ Which sounds rather astonishing and strange. I mean, how could God possibly want Abraham to kill this promised son? It didn’t make sense and how would God fulfill his promise if Isaac was dead? None of it made sense. But Abraham knew that he could trust God, that God would keep his promises and be faithful. And he didn’t know why God was asking him to do this. It
was a hard and horrible and painful thing, but he knew he needed to put God first, but he needed to love God before all else, even his son Isaac. So he took Isaac and they went up onto a mountain and Isaac said, ‘You know, Dad, we’ve got wood here, we’re getting ready to make a fire, but where’s the animal that we’re supposed to sacrifice on the Fire?’ And Abraham took Isaac and he tied him to the wood and just as he was getting ready to do the most horrendous thing he could think of doing, kill his own beloved Son, God said, ‘Stop, Abraham, don’t do it, don’t kill Isaac, don’t hurt him.’ And then there appeared in thorns a ram, it’s kind of like a lamb but a boy has horns, and this Ram was given to Abraham to sacrifice on that altar instead of his son Isaac.
God loved Abraham and Isaac and God didn’t want Abraham to really kill his son, but he wanted Abraham to trust him, to believe in his promises that his promises would be fulfilled no matter what, and that his instructions could be followed even if this sounded very strange or even impossible or painful or sacrificial or foolish. And Abraham knew that he could trust God. But this story isn’t so much about Abraham or about Isaac and what they did and their great faith. It’s about God. It’s about God and what he did. See, this is almost an object lesson from God, a very drawn out and very serious kind of object lesson. But later, God made a sacrifice. God gave his son and in this case, he didn’t spare him. He spared Isaac, Abraham’s son, but not his own. He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice, just like the RAM and the thorn bush. Jesus is the Lamb of God who came and took our sins and died in our place so that we don’t have to die.
God loved us so much that he puts us first and was willing to become a man and die in our place. So we can put God first in our lives because we know how much he loves us, how much he cares for us, and how he puts us first. He loves us so much that he died for our sins so we can love him in return. We can be thankful and we can put him first, loving him first. That means that yeah, sometimes we might have to be willing to give something up or sacrifice something we love, but it means that we love God even more and that we know we can trust him, that when we put him first and we pray, we read our Bibles, we go to church, we put those things ahead of the things that might just sound fun. And when we love him and serve him, he will bless our lives too. The other things will fit in around the cracks when we put our Lord and Savior Jesus first in our lives.
Why don’t we thank God for his sacrifice and for loving us so much. Dear God, thank you for sacrificing for us. Thank you for loving us. Help us to love you and to put you first in our lives. Thank you so much for your son Jesus, in his name, amen. The story of Abraham and Isaac can be a challenging one, but remember God’s love for us and that we can trust him. So have a wonderful week, go make some disciples, we’ll see you next time.”