For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sward, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 I’ve been pondering this verse a lot lately, continually amazed at its truth. My heart has been captured by God and His Word for quite a while now. The spine of my Bible is falling apart from use and some of the pages look like cliff notes of a student studying for the final exam. I’ve highlighted, underlined, circled and made notes in the margin. Yet, each time I read the words between these covers, they are new in some way – reaching into the very depths of my heart and soul to illuminate another corner of the character of God. Gently, but accurately, pointing out the sin in my own life. These words comfort, heal and mend the brokenness that I may or may not even realize colors my life. The words of Scripture guide me along the path God has marked out for me while on this earth. Through the words of the Old Testament I am filled with hope at the promise of the New Testament - amazed at the goodness and mercy of a pure and holy God whose heart always was, and always will be, for his people. The words of the New Testament astonish me as I continually discover anew the aggressive grace of God in action through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
A little while ago I read the story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac:
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Genesis 22:1-2 NLT
Wow. Can you even imagine how those words must have pierced Abraham’s heart? El-Shaddai – God Almighty (Genesis 17:1-6) - the God who had appeared to Abraham and promised to give him countless descendants, was asking him to surrender his only son to death. I want to know what Abraham said after God’s direction. The Bible records no verbal response to God’s command. Did Abraham ask God “why?” Did he stand speechless before God, dumbfounded by the sheer horror of what God had told him to do? I wonder if Abraham cried out in anguish at the thought of plunging the knife into his own son. Surely he tore his clothes, fell on his face, and wrestled with God in prayer throughout the night?
But, the Bible doesn’t tell us what Abraham thought, said or did that night. The very next verse says this:
The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. Genesis 22:3 NLT
Hold the presses! How can this be? We don’t get to see how Abraham felt or what he thought. We don’t know what was going on in his heart. What we do learn is that Abraham is obedient, which is important for us to know. But what hit me when I read this story is this: What is more important than knowing Abraham’s heart, is knowing God’s heart.Yes, the Bible is full of glimpses into the heart of man. We can truly learn to understand ourselves, and those around us through studying God’s Word. But the bigger, overarching purpose of the words of Scripture is to give us glimpses into the heart of God – to allow us, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to increasingly know God through His Word.
The account of Abraham and Isaac continues as Abraham faithfully follows God’s instructions to the letter. Just as Abraham picks up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice to the God that he clearly loves more than anything or anyone else, God intervenes.
At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its thorns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). Genesis 22:11-14a NLT
Yes, we learn about Abraham’s faith and obedience. But more importantly we get some glimpses into the heart of God.
God is holy and sovereign. God desires faith and obedience from His children. God may require very difficult obedience from us. God sees our journey of obedience, faith and surrender – each painful step. God will provide what we need to fulfill all He asks of us. God has a plan. God blesses obedience.
Then the angel of the LORD called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – all because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:15-18 NLT
His Word is true. He is Word is living. His Word will reveal His heart to you. Are you letting it? Are you looking for glimpses into God’s heart with every word you read?