Saturday, March 13, 2010

God Will Provide Himself A Lamb 9

Has ther been at ime in your life when you felt the Savior's love for you so intensely, that you felt the power of the atonement so completely that you would do anything that He asked of you? We know that Alma poses the questions, "Have you spiritually been born of God?...Have you felt to sing the song of redeeming love?" Then he later asks, If you have felt these things, "I would ask, can you feel so now?" I am certain that most of us, if not all, have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and of our Heavnely Father's and our Savior's love for us. Most of us have felt to sing the song of redeeming love....We have had our own spiritual interactions with the Lord; we have had our own spiritual highs.

I like to remember the story of King Lamoni's father. He was a bitter man. He hated the Nephites extremely and the testimony that they had of the gospel plan. But then he saw Ammon's love for his son, and his heart was softened. Later, we Ammon's brothers went to teach this man who was king over all the land, he wanted to hear what they had to say. When he learned what they taught about God and that he could personally pray to God, he humbled himself and offered a pray. This is essentially what he said, "Oh God, Ammon told me that there is a God, and if there be a God, and if thou art God, I will give away all my sins to know thee." Like King Lamoni's father, Abraham gave away all of his sins to know our Father and our Savior.

"The Lord revealed that we must be tried “even as Abraham” (D&C 101:4). Why do you think this is necessary? (See D&C 101:5, 35–38; 122:5–7.) What can we do now to prepare ourselves for sacrifices the Lord may ask us to make?" (from really can't expect to sit down in the kingdom of our Father with prophets such as Abraham if we do not accept trials in our life with patience, humility, trust, and dignity, like Abraham did. Christ Himself was known as a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. To experience the greatest joy, we must also experience some losses and sorrows.

In Abraham's young life, he was put on an altar as a sacrifice to false gods by the false priests of Pharaoh. He was saved from an untimely death by an angel of the Lord. Remember that Abraham's father had turned away from his righteousness and entered into the wicked practices of his surrounding fellows in the land of Chaldea. But Abraham sought after greater righteousness. Even though his life could have been taken, his life was preserved and he entered into sacred covenants with the Lord. Through the Abrahamic covenant, Abraham knew that the Lord would deliver him and ultimately bless him. He trusted in the covenant. He knew that the Lord was faithful and would keep his word.

The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He promised him posterity greater than the stars in the heaven or the sand upon the seashore. But Sarah was barren, and Abraham and Sarah were getting on in years. The Lord commanded Abraham to take Sarah's handmaident to wife, and Sarah willingly gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. But as soon as Hagar conceived, Sarah became jealous and kicked her out for a time.

The Lord promised great things to Hagar concerning Ishmael. He would be the father of 12 princes (just like Jacob aslo became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel). But the covenant was not to be carried on through Ishmael's seed. This blessing was to be preserved for Isaac who would be born years later. But Ishmael would also be remembered of the Lord. And Ishmael's seed can also become part of Abraham's covenant peoples as they enter the waters of baptism and as they enter the holy temples.

God revealed unto Abraham that Sarah would conceive and bare him a son. Sarah was already 90 and Abraham 100. Abraham laughed and rejoiced to think that he and Sarah would have a child in their old age. God did keep his promise to Abraham in His own time and in His own way. Isaac was blessed with carrying on the Abrahamic covenant, with the priesthood authority, and with the promises of eternal life and eternal increase. Abraham's blessings were to be fulfilled through his son Isaac and through the posterity that came through Isaac.

And then God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham's heart must have wrenched in pain. He must have relived his own encounter upon the altar to the false gods. He must have wondered how it could be possible for the blessings of the covenant to be realized if Isaac's life were taken. Yet Abraham knew God. He knew that it was God who gave him this commandment. He trusted in the Lord explicitly. He knew that this directive came from the Lord. He knew the Lord, and he was willingly obedient.

Abraham had developed a relationship with God. He knew how to recognize the Spirit, and he had faith to do what was asked of him, and it was counted to him for righteousness. So he rose up early in the morning and took his son Isaac with him to go and offer sacrifice to the Lord. When Isaac asked where the lamb to be offered was, Abraham told him that the Lord would provide. Isaac also had extreme trust in his father Abraham. No struggle is recorded in the scriptures. Isaac willingly submitted to the will of his father, even as Jesus submitted to the will of His Father in offering himself as the Lamb without blemish for the salvation of all mankind.

'Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “When they came to the prescribed place, Abraham built an altar and laid wood upon it. Then, the Bible says, ‘Abraham … bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood’ (Genesis 22:9). What did Isaac think when Abraham did such a strange thing? The Bible mentions no struggle or objection. Isaac’s silence can be explained only in terms of his trust in and obedience to his father....This story … shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).

When Abraham's hand was lifted to strike Isaac and end his life, and angel of the Lord appeared and told Abraham that it was enough. Isaac's life was spared. Abraham learned more about the atonement of Jesus Christ through this experience than he could have in any other way. He was willing to offer his son because it was a commandment of the Lord. Isaac, likewise, was willing to submit himself to Abraham even as Jesus submitted himself to His Father. It was enough. The Lord provided a ram that was caught in the thicket, and, gratefully, Abraham and Isaac offered the ram to the Lord. With greater understanding of the Sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of the Father, they offered a sacrifice in similitude, looking forward to the time when Jesus's life would indeed be on the altar for all humankind, but the Father would not then provide a ram in the thicket. Because of His great love for us, the Father allowed His Son's life to be taken so that we might all have immortality because of Him, and so that we might have eternal life by entering into and keeping the covenant.

Isaac indeed represents all of us. We will all experience death. the ram that was provided represents Jesus Christ and His atonement for us. Isaac submitted himself to the will of Abraham even as Jesus submitted himself to our Heavenly Father. I am certian that both were relieved that the test was passed and that an alternative offering became available. I am also certain that they were releaved that Heavenly Father and Jesus did supply an infinite and eternal sacrifice in the offering of Jesus's life. This time there was no ram in the thicket. Jesus alone could atone for our sins. Jesus alone, the Perfect Lamb without blemish, could bring us back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. I am thankful for the righteousness of Abraham, for the willingness of Isaac. I am eternally thankful to my Father in Heaven and eternal indebted to my Lord Jesus Christ that His life was given to save mine.

I have had my own Abraham experience to the degree that I was capable of handling. Our son Robby's life was so short. He only lived for 2 1/2 hours beyond birth. But his short life offered me a sanctifyting experience as I submitted willingly and even cheerfully to the will of the Lord. Through my faith and prays, through my sorrows and strugglesin the year following, I came to know the Lord better and to trust in His plan more fully.

(This still needs revision)

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