Rosh HaShanah began Wednesday evening (the only holy day to occur the same night as the new moon) and the traditional reading is the Akedah, Genesis 22, which is the story of the Binding of Isaac. Even though we have Ha’azinu (the Song of Moses) as this Shabbat’s Parashah, I am going to talk about the Akedah.
The story, as I am sure you all know, starts with God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him. Abraham sets off the very next morning to do so, and they walk three days until they come to Mount Moriah, where Abraham takes Isaac, binds him, places him on the wood and is about to slaughter him with a knife when the angel of the Lord calls and stops Abraham. God tells Abraham this was a test of his loyalty and faith; Abraham sees a ram with it’s horns stuck in a bush and sacrifices the ram to God. Then he and Isaac go back home.
NOTE: because it was a ram that was substituted for Isaac, the shofar is usually a ram’s horn to honor that ram.
This reading is considered a Messianic passage by both Jews and Christians, alike. From the Christian (and Messianic) viewpoint, we see the father of the nation of Jews sacrificing his only son (Isaac, who is the “son of the promise”) as a foreshadow of the Father of the Universe sacrificing His only son, Yeshua.
From the Jewish side, I have seen too many different messages from this to even start to say this one is what it means, or that one is why it is considered messianic. The only thing agreed is that the Akedah it is the most read passage in the Torah, since it is repeated daily before the Shacharit (morning) prayer and again on the second day of Rosh Hashannah. In some circles it is even thought that Isaac did die and was resurrected, but the bible is clear he did not die.
I am just going to say the Akedah is considered a Messianic passage by Jews, and leave it at that.
The point I want to make today, though, has nothing to do with it’s messianic foreshadowing. What I want to talk about is how sometimes we hear from God, and we know what He wants from us, but then things change just as we are doing what we thought He wanted us to do!
For instance, in the Akedah (which means “binding”) Abraham was sure that God told him to sacrifice Isaac, but at the last moment God changed that. Abraham was told why things changed, that this was only a test of his faith, but often we may not be told why things suddenly change. They just will.
By the way, God didn’t even tell Abraham to substitute the ram- Abraham took that upon himself to do. I believe it was a thanksgiving sacrifice, for I am certain Abraham was very, VERY thankful to God that the sacrifice of Isaac was not required.
If, and when, we hear God’s calling in our lives, (hopefully) we answer that calling. But what about when after we answer it we find out that what we are doing isn’t working out? Here’s an example: where I have been worshiping, a place I know God called me to go, we are going to be disbanded in a few months. This is currently a Hebraic Roots church which is a sovereign Assemblies of God church; the first Senior Pastor left almost immediately after I joined to pursue his corporate calling (Ezra International) and the current Senior Pastor is quitting to pursue a Masters his employer (Bridges for Peace) is paying for. This leaves the church with no one who has Senior Pastor credentials with the A of G. That means the church will revert to an A of G district church, and that means we can kiss goodbye Friday night Shabbat. It is almost a foregone conclusion that they will go back to Sunday mornings, and even if they send a pastor with a heart for Israel, it is impossible to consider that this will remain a Hebraic Roots congregation. So you see, I am very sure that my calling to this church is about to take a significant turn from what I thought it would be when God told me this is the place for me.
And it has been the place for me. What God sent me here to do wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but it turns out that I have been exactly what was needed at that time. And now that time is over. Abraham was looking forward (not in the way of hopeful expectation) to having to kill his only son, and knew that is what God wanted from him. Both Abraham and I found out that what we thought God told us we were to do didn’t end up being what He had planned for us to do.
When you find yourself following God’s calling in your life and suddenly you have to make a U-Turn, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are under attack from the enemy; it doesn’t have to mean you misunderstood what God was calling you to do; and it doesn’t mean that you have fallen from Grace. It just might mean when you heard God call you to do something, you thought there was more to it, but there was only what He had planned, and you’ve done it.
Just like Abraham thought God called him to kill Isaac, but all God needed was to test his willingness to kill Isaac.
Just like I thought I could come to this place and only be in the congregation, without the responsibilities or burden of being in leadership, but I ended up holding three positions on the Council and working with the Pastor leading the congregation in liturgy and delivering the weekly messages.
What about you? Have you found yourself in a position where you could have sworn God called you to, and now it seems that you might have been wrong about it? Are you currently experiencing troubles (tsouris) in your life that you can’t explain, and you are doubting your calling with God? Are you thinking , “Maybe I’m not doing what God wants of me?” You could be right, or you could be done with what God really wanted of you and you just don’t know that yet. Maybe you are being pruned and the real reason for your current troubles is that you aren’t trying to listen to God because you think you already know what He wants?
Overall, the only way to know what God wants for you is to ask Him to show you. Always expect the unexpected from God because He doesn’t have to tell you any more than what you need to know, when you need to know it. That means things may change at any time, so be alert, be watchful, be ready.
And always be listening to the Spirit.