When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, Abraham did not withhold Isaac from God (Genesis 22:2).
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
However, when the time came for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord, an Angel of the Lord came to Abraham saying (Genesis 22:12).
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
God provided the sacrifice (a ram) in lieu of Abraham’s son. However, later in time, God provided the true sacrifice in the form of Jesus Christ, His only son, to pay the price for our sins. God did not withhold his only son, and in response, his son willingly went to the cross to save his people; us. Which is why we celebrate Easter.
Because of Abraham’s obedience to God in Genesis, the Lord made the following promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:15-18.
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspringb] all nations on earth will be blessed,c] because you have obeyed me.”
The Analogy of the Sand
Have you ever thought about where the most beautiful sand in the world comes from? Perhaps you have spent time in the tropics and felt the soft sand beneath your toes. The best sand in the world comes from the parrot fish. The parrot fish is a large fish with strong jaws and large teeth. They spend 90% of their day feeding off algae on the reefs. They are indiscriminate eaters. Meaning, when they feed on the algae, they bite off large chunks of the coral reef. As a result, after digestion, the parrot fish poops out the parts of the reef it ingested, resulting in fine sand. A typical parrot fish can produce over 5 tons of sand per year. It is this sand that makes up the most beautiful beaches in the world. So how does this relate to Genesis? As I was thinking about God and his people outnumbering the sand, the following came to me.
Coral reefs are the skeletons of its former coral residents. They are beautiful on the outside but dead and empty on the inside. This represented me before I knew Christ. Coral reefs are stuck in their place and do not break free without some sort of outside influence. Again, me before Christ entered my life. Contemplating these thoughts this morning, I saw God as the parrot fish. While it may hurt when God refines us (i.e. a parrot fish biting a chunk out of the reef and digesting it into sand), the result is beautiful. God removes us from our fixed position that is going nowhere and takes us to paradise. He turns the crap in our lives into beautiful sandy beaches. As the reef is pooped out by the parrot fish, it begins a journey in the sea. While the currents may take it to various destinations that are not always clear to the sand, the result is paradise. A beautiful sandy beach on a tropical island. So, too it is with our lives. Change may hurt. We may not know where God is taking us on the current of life. But we can trust that our destination is paradise. We may not always like the process it takes to refine us from dead coral to beautiful sand, but the process is necessary. God would rather us go through crap to be refined than to be beautiful in our own eyes but dead inside. God is good. He knows what we need. He is willing to do what is necessary to bring us to paradise. He loves us too much to let us sit in our own empty beauty.
When we think of the refinement we must go through in our lives and the pain it may cause, do not forget what God was willing to go through. God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for our sins. God rewarded Abraham because Abraham did not withhold his only son from God. However, God provided a ram for a sacrifice and saved Isaac. When God sent his son Jesus Christ, he did not provide a substitute sacrifice. God did not withhold his only son from us. He willingly gave his son so that we may live in Christ forever. Our sins are forgiven, and our future is secure because of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love. Jesus Christ gave his life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead three days later. This is why we celebrate Easter. John 3:16 is a very popular verse in the bible, but don’t forget to include John 3:17 as well.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
I pray that as you celebrate this Easter with your loved ones, please remember that the One whom loves you most, wants the very best for you. While refinement may hurt, it produces true and lasting beauty. May God bless you and your family during these uncertain times. While the future isn’t always clear to us, especially in these uncertain times, God is working in each and every one of our lives, as noted in Philippians 1:6.
6And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
God bless you all and happy Easter! He is risen!
Article update: – one of our readers named Kevin, after reading this post, suggested a new title for the article “Redemption: From Poop to Paradise.” I got a laugh out of it and am inclined to agree with you Kevin! Happy Easter!
Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc. More importantly, Rob did not earn God’s favor, he is saved by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Rob is a sinner whom God loves. So are you. If you don’t know God, he is standing at your door waiting. Please let Him in. Your life will never be the same if you just open the door.