This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Derek Prince (Tape # 4076)
The theme I am going to speak about I have entitled Progressive Commitment. And I’m going to take my examples from the life of Abraham. Let’s just think about the word progressive for a moment. In many, many places in the Bible, both Old Testament and New, the life of the believer is called a walk. Some of the modern translations in the New Testament have changed the word walk to live. I think that’s a pity because you can live and be static but you cannot walk and be static. The very use of the word walk indicates that the believer’s life must be progressive. We must be on the move. It says in the 4th chapter of Proverbs, the 18th verse, “the pathway of the righteous is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” So righteousness is a pathway, it’s not a seat and if we are walking in that pathway it’s getting brighter and brighter every day. And if the light is not getting brighter every day we need to examine ourselves whether we’re really in the pathway. If you’re living by yesterday’s light today, you’re in danger of becoming a backslider.
Then I want to say a little about Abraham. There are many wonderful men of God portrayed in the scripture, all of whom are examples to us in various ways. But Abraham is unique. He’s called the father of all who believe. Through faith in Jesus Christ the seed of Abraham, the scripture says, we have become children of Abraham. It doesn’t say we’re children of David or children of Moses but we’re children of Abraham. To me that’s very precious because that’s the basis on which I inherit all the blessings that Abraham was promised by God. I’ve come by faith into the direct line of spiritual descent from Abraham. If you’re Christ’s, you’re Abraham’s. That’s what Paul says and in Roman 4 he says we are Abraham’s children if we walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham. There’s an if. Being a child of Abraham means you walk the way Abraham walked. Jesus rebuked the natural descendants of Abraham in his day and said God could raise up children to Abraham from these stones if that was all that was involved. But the thing that matters is walking the way Abraham walked.
So I’m going to take today five of the steps of faith of Abraham and I want to show you that in a certain sense, each step was a further commitment to God. And it so happens that in each case the commitment to God meant relinquishing something human. So the further Abraham went with God in a sense, the more he relinquished of human desires, relationships and affections.
Now, that’s not contrary to what I am saying about we have to be right with man as well as with God. But somebody said, I think at least it came to me in connection with the pattern of the tabernacle, the tabernacle has always been one of the most fascinating themes of the Bible for me. You may find it dull and insignificant, complicated... Every time I study the tabernacle of Moses seriously it implants in me a deep desire to go further with God. I don’t know any teaching in the Bible that inspires me personally with a deeper desire for holiness than the teaching of the tabernacle. It would not necessarily affect everybody that way but it does me. And as I view the tabernacle as a kind of pattern of approach to God, the ultimate, the aim being the innermost sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, what impresses me is there was only one piece of furniture in it. In fact, the further you went with God, the fewer your options. Until you have no option but God.
Now that I believe is spiritual progress. And in a certain sense it always means giving up something. And the point where you stop giving up is the point where you cease spiritual progress.
So let’s look at the steps of Abraham’s faith starting this morning in Genesis 11. We need to read the last verses of chapter 11 and the first verses of chapter 12. Beginning in Genesis 11:31:
“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, [that’s Abraham’s nephew] and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; [that is Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot] and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” (KJV)
Notice their objective was Canaan but they didn’t get there. Haran is just about halfway between Ur and Canaan.
“And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.” (KJV)
Now, there’s no indication really in the Old Testament why they didn’t complete the journey they set out on. And apparently Abraham knew all along that Canaan was where he ought to go. Read now the beginning of the next chapter:
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great: and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him; and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.”(KJV)
I want you to see that Abram’s obedience was progressive. He didn’t meet all the conditions immediately. And his progress only continued as he met the conditions.
Now if you turn to Acts 7:4 you’ll find out why Abraham couldn’t make the whole journey the first time. It’s one of these marvelous examples where the New Testament illuminates the Old. This is the speech that Stephen made before the Jewish council in Jerusalem. And he’s describing the beginning of Abraham’s journey and he says in verse 2:
“The God of Glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.” (KJV)
Notice this had happened in Ur, not in Charran. It may have been renewed in Charran but it started in Ur.
“Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.” (KJV)
What was the hindrance? His father. Because God had said leave your country, your father’s house, [that means your father’s family] and your relatives. Three things he had to leave. His country, his family, his relatives. Well, he left his country but he took his father with him. And he could not go the complete journey as long as his father was alive. When his father died, obstacle number one was removed, he completed the journey to the land of Canaan.
Now, you can spiritualize that a whole lot of ways and I’m not too much in favor of spiritualizing things, but frankly there are lots of us who want to get to the Promised Land but we want to take father with us. And God says you can get halfway and no further. Do you know some people who got halfway and didn’t get any further? Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you try to take father along. What is father? Well it could be a whole lot of different things from the past. Certain traditions, certain associations, a whole lot of things. They could be religious traditions, religious associations, denominational, financial, business, social... I don’t think most of the smart set ever get to Canaan. One thing that often happens is you have you change your friends. So, don’t take father along if you want to get to Canaan. I hope you understand that I’m not speaking in any terms to disrespect for our parents. But this is a kind of an analogy we’re using.
All right. Commitment number one was leaving Ur. Commitment number two was leaving Haran. But he couldn’t leave Haran as long as he had his father with him. But he still hadn’t met all the conditions. What was the unfulfilled condition? He had somebody else along that was not on the terms of the contract, who was that? Lot. And from your relatives it said. Lot was a relative. It’s interesting, you probably don’t know, but in Hebrew the word Lot has a specific meaning. It means a veil. Something that covers the eye. It’s used in that way as a noun in the Old Testament. So he could get into the Promised Land with Lot but he couldn’t see the Promised Land because he had a veil over his eyes. And God arranged the circumstances where they had to come to a confrontation. So we read in Genesis 13:5, and I’m going to read quite a section, through verse 17. I want you to pick out the significant facts.
“And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together; for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle; and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east; and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” (KJV)
There’s much to observe in there. God did not intend Lot to remain with Abram so God arranged the circumstances that caused them to part. One of the things I’ve learned in the spiritual life is lending is learning to bend with the pressure. Sometimes we make up our minds what we ought to do and we stick out and do it. And we’re not heeding that God is speaking to us and saying, this isn’t what I want you to do. One of our problems often is obstinance. We’ve got our minds made up the way it’s going to be and this is what God wants and if it kills me, I’m going to do it. Well it might kill you! God might have to kill you because that attitude is not going to find the will of God. Abraham didn’t say, well listen, we started out together and we’re staying together, you stay with me. He took a very gentle line.
One of the talks I gave on the fruit of the Spirit was on gentleness. And it really spoke to me. Gentleness or meekness. And the thought that God impressed upon me is that meekness is not weakness. Meekness is a mark of strength. Only a strong person can be meek. And Abraham was meek. He said, all right. Remember, Lot was the younger man, he was the nephew. Abraham could have easily said, all right, well if we’re going to separate, I’m going to make the choice. But he said, Lot, you choose. You know what I believe? I believe myself that Abraham had total confidence in God that God would use Lot’s choice to work God’s will. Are you ever prepared to do that? To give up your right and say, Lord, I’ll surrender. And if he gets what I ought to have, that’s between you and him. And I believe when you take that attitude, no one will ever get what you ought to have. You remember the words of John the Baptist: a man cannot receive anything except it be given him from above. I really believe that. I do believe in most instances I’ve come to the place where if people want to fight, I’ll walk out. Because whatever God really has destined for me, no one can take unless I do wrong.
Well, Lot made the wrong choice because there was something wrong in his heart. And he was looking for the material before the spiritual. So he went to the place which was rich and promised, even greater material prosperity but it was a corrupted evil environment. One of the significant things about Lot is that he took his whole family into Sodom. And he never got them out. That’s one of the greatest warnings to me of the responsibility of fatherhood. We can make a wrong choice and take our family with us. We may get out, they may not. And we are in some measure responsible for their being in Sodom. I always wondered how Lot felt when he walked out of Sodom and turned back and looked at those smoking ruins and remembered that members of his own family were there. And he took them there.
However it’s Abraham we’re talking about, not Lot. Now look in verse 14.
“The Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thing eyes, and look from the place where thou art...” (KJV)
As long as Lot was with him he couldn’t see his inheritance. God didn’t give him the insight. But when Lot was separated, when the veil was removed, Abram didn’t have to move, he just had to look. And every direction he looked was going to be his. And then the Lord said to him don’t just look, arise and walk through it because it’s all going to be yours. But he could not see his inheritance until he had made that third commitment to let Lot go. Notice every commitment was letting something go. He let his city go, his father was taken from him, now his nephew was taken from him.
What’s the next? There may be others, but I’m going to go on to the story of Ishmael. You remember that. After a number of years, I believe it was about twelve years in the land, no sign of the promised heir and so Abram and Sarai decided to help God. Somebody said, I think it was Charles Simpson, the child of expediency is always an Ishmael. And when I meditate on Ishmael and his descendants, it creates in me a very strong desire never to produce an Ishmael. If ever Abram made a disastrous mistake it was Ishmael. Not merely did Ishmael turn against the promised heir Isaac when he arrived, but the descendants of Ishmael have stood in the way of the descendants of Isaac for four or five thousand years and still do today. Shouldn’t that teach us that Ishmaels are costly?
Another interesting thing, I hope I can say this right, Abraham let the initiative pass from him as the head of the house and he let Sarah make the decision. Sarah said go into my maid. He did. Some years later Sarah said get rid of my maid. He had to. If he hadn’t let her take the initiative the first time he wouldn’t have had to accept her counsel the second time.
Now let me make it very clear. I believe a man is foolish if he doesn’t listen to his wife’s counsel. And a woman has many insights a man doesn’t have. And in my first marriage with Lydia I always sought to benefit from her insight. But God also showed me clearly the final decision was my responsibility. And I couldn’t pass the buck as they say. I remember there was a time when we had to make a major decision as to whether we would go to Denmark, Africa or the United States. And I felt that we ought to go to Africa. Now my wife and my daughters didn’t want to go to Africa. And when you have eight daughters and a wife and six of your daughters are Jewish, if you don’t know anything about female pressure, you’re going to learn! Well, it was very hard for me to override Lydia’s opinion, but when I was really in turmoil about this and wondering what I should do, the Lord spoke to me in one of those quiet ways that he does. Not audible and he said you do want me to respect you, don’t you? I said okay Lord, that’s what I want. I made the decision and it was the right decision. There’s no doubt about it. And I have to say to honor Lydia’s memory, she said I’m going with you to Africa not because I’m called to Africa, but because I’m your wife. And where you go, I’ll go. But in the end the Lord blessed her ministry there greatly. But there was an example of a case where I had to take the responsibility. And whenever a husband abdicates from that position, trouble will follow. Today, I’m sorry to say, it’s the habitual custom of most American husbands to abdicate. In actual fact, in many American families, the major decisions really precede from the wife. You heard the story about the man who said we’ve been married twentytwo years and we’ve never had a disagreement. I said to my wife, you make the minor decisions, I’ll make the major decisions. We’ve never disagreed. We’ve never had any major decisions to make! See, this isn’t my theme but I feel I should say it. I’m pretty well acquainted with this particular area of the United States. All human problems began when two things happened. The first man abdicated from his responsibilities and the first woman stepped into his place. That’s the origin of all human problems on that level. See, in my opinion, Adam shouldn’t have allowed the serpent to talk to his wife. He was there to keep the garden, to protect it. The serpent wasn’t a beast of the garden, it was a beast of the field. It had no right in the garden. He’d slipped up. And then of course, you know Ern Baxter’s remark about Eve. If only Eve had said I never talk to strange snakes without my husband, there never would have been a problem. So wives, never talk to strange snakes without your husband. You say strange snakes never come to my house. They may come to your house not dressed as snakes.
It’s something to counteract anybody’s decision. Even your daughter’s. About three years ago, as many of you know my African daughter, Joska, whom I love dearly and who is a beautiful child, really a joy to our hearts today. But about two or three years ago one of these high pressure salesmen came to the home just after Joska got her job and he sold her on credit one of these fancy stainless steel cooking sets to put away in her hope chest. She has a beautiful hope chest incidentally. But she had to get daddy’s signature. When she came to me for the signature I said, Joska, you can’t afford this, you don’t need it. It’s not going to do you any good, you’ve got a lot of better things to do with your money than invest in a stainless steel cooking set. And she looked at me and I looked at her and she said, well, if you don’t want me to get it I won’t. I said I don’t want you to get it. It was really a major point in our relationship. It seemed so small but, men, it’s so easy to let the initiative pass out of your hands. And I believe the lesson is trouble. I think God is very, very insistent that the responsibility of the male is to take the initiative. That does not mean that a wife doesn’t share with her husband, doesn’t counsel with her husband, doesn’t pray with her husband, doesn’t tell him things. I’ll tell you frankly here in front of everybody I’ve said to Bob, you have got an unusually disturbing wife. She’s usually right. You’d better listen to her. But, the decision making process is his responsibility. And he’s not afraid to take it. So that’s just by the way. As I say sometimes, no extra charge!
Anyhow, we come to the point where Abraham had listened to Sarah, he had a child by Hagar, the child was grown up, was about twelve or thirteen years old. And then the promised heir came God’s way. Not by manipulation, not by helping God but by God’s initiative. See, to come back to this question of initiative for a moment. Jesus Christ is the bridegroom of the church. The church is his bride. This same relationship applies there. Jesus doesn’t want the church taking the initiative. Jesus is fully prepared to accept the responsibility for taking the initiative. What he wants the church to do is respond. But half the churches in the world today have no concept of letting the Lord make the initiative.
Let me point out to you that this is an end time problem. There’s a clear picture of it in the book of Esther. King Ahasereus had a wife named Vashti. He planned his banquet, called in all his lords and captains and counselors and then the very climax of everything was to display his queen in her beauty. So he sent the seven chamberlains to summon the queen and she said, I’m sorry but I’ve got my own party going. I’m not prepared to come. You know, that’s just like the church. Half the time when the Lord sends for us we’ve got our own party. Well, Vashti lost her crown. She was demoted. And Ahasereus looked for a wife who would leave the initiative to him. I really think that’s what’s happening in the church today. I think there’s a Vashti and there’s an Esther. I think Vashti is going to lose her crown. The kind of church that Jesus is looking for is an Esther church. And yet, it’s very, very interesting because so careful is the balance of scripture. That there was a moment when Esther did take the initiative. Remember that? She hadn’t been called into the king’s presence for thirty days. Her people were about to be destroyed and she said, you know it’s the law that if I go in without being sent for it’s death unless he stretches out the golden scepter. But I’ll go in. So in a sense she took the initiative. But she took it in a different attitude from Vashti. And when the king saw her he stretched out the scepter and granted her her request. So there’s such a very delicate balance in scripture.
All right. Now let’s look at what happened when Ishmael had to go. Genesis 21:9–14. This is after the weaning of Isaac
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, [that was Ishmael] which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice, for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”
Now this illustrates how a man of God handles his mistakes. And I think there’s hardly a more important lesson anywhere that I know in scripture. Of course, if you’re never going to make a mistake, you don’t have to pay too much attention. But there’s not many—and there may be some of us that never do make a mistake, I’m not saying we all have to make mistakes. But a lot of us do. What do you do about your mistake? You’ve done the wrong thing. You may have bought a car that’s eating gas and money. But you argued with everybody that it was the right car. And when your wife suggested that you know, you could do with a smaller car, you didn’t listen to her. So, you took the initiative, you made the decision and the car is a lemon. It’s very, very simple. The longer you hold onto that car the more money you waste. The more frustration you endure. Sometimes you just have to say I did a silly thing. And I’ll face the consequences, get rid of it the quickest way.
Now a car is a very simple material thing. But what about if you’ve done something wrong in the spiritual realm? Let’s say you got related to a brother that you shouldn’t have been related to. I’ve seen this happen many times. What are you going to do? Drag out the relationship? Endure maybe years of frustration? Or are you going to say frankly, brother, you and I should never have got related in the first place. I’m not blaming you, but we have to separate.
Or, to take a very different example but a very common one. A man in the ministry or out of the ministry may get involved emotionally with a woman who isn’t his wife. It does happen. I think men in ministry are particularly susceptible to this problem. In many cases there is never any kind of physical immorality. Nevertheless, that man’s heart and attitude toward his wife has been corrupted. What are you going to do? Cover it up with religious language and say, well, there’s a special affinity between this woman and me. She understands me in a way my wife doesn’t. Dangerous words. Oh, how dangerous! I’m thinking of a particular man now, actually a black minister. None of you here would know who he is. Bob knows him. And he came to me with amazing honesty with his wife and said I’ve got something in me that just doesn’t let me sleep at night. I’m a man of God, I want to serve the Lord. But he said this thing I can’t shake it off, I can’t break it, I can’t throw it off. He said I got involved emotionally with a sister in the church. She came to me for help. The familiar story. And she took more and more of my time. And eventually they began to flirt. Well, I’ve dealt with men that needed deliverance. Multitudes of them. But I don’t know that I’ve ever dealt with a harder case of deliverance than that. He said I still want to go on ministering. I said, Brother, you and she are to put a long distance between you. You don’t gradually let something like that taper off. You make a clean, total break. And if you don’t, you’ll never be disentangled.
The thing is, we, particularly males, we don’t like to say I made a mistake. Do we? It’s very humbling. Especially if you have to say it to your wife. Now in my opinion, if a man has mistreated his wife, not given her the honor, respect or consideration or the love that’s due to her, and it’s become specific, it’s become factual, if he comes to me for help I’ll make him go and apologize to his wife. You know why? Because he’ll be very unlikely to do the same thing twice. Some ministers might not do that. But I would.
Or, and I take another example and I have to be careful because I’ve got people in mind that I don’t want to project them unto you. I’ve heard men respected in ministry make the silliest statements. You know, like a Christian can never have a demon. Well, the truth of the matter is lots of Christians have demons and some of those people who make those statements have demons. That’s why they make them. But you know, there are very few preachers who would stand up and say what I told you was wrong. What’s the alternative? Live with your error for the rest of your life. In l963 I preached a long sermon to my congregation at that time proving conclusively there could never be any more apostles in the church. I have only got a very brief comment of three words to make on that. I was wrong. But you know, it took a lot for me to say I was wrong. I could have gone on trying to prove myself right for the rest of my life and my ministry would have in many ways been impaired.
One of the things that I like about David is when Nathan went to him and charged him with his sin, he said I have sinned. That’s why he could remain the man he was. In some ways, King Saul’s errors were not as gross as those of David. But he never really recovered from them. Do you know why? Because he never fully admitted them. You read the confrontation between Samuel and Saul, compare it with the confrontation between Nathan and David and you can see the difference was David said I did wrong. Saul tried to justify himself, excuse himself and give reasons why he had to do it that way. I think probably there’s nothing more critical in the life of most men and women of God than how we handle our mistakes. Do we say honestly I did the wrong thing, I’ll get rid of it? How do you think Abraham felt when he saw the slave girl who had been in a sense his concubine, who had lived in the same home with him probably for twenty or thirty years, and the only son that he’d ever had of his own body until the time that Isaac came walking out into the desert with just a bottle of water on her shoulder? Do you think that was easy? I think it must have been agony. You say, should he have done it? My answer is yes because he trusted the Lord. When we make a mistake we have to trust the Lord that his way of dealing with it is right. And I would say in the shepherd or the discipling relationship if the pupil or the disciple makes a mistake and goes to the one who is discipling him, he’s probably got to accept the fact that the teacher’s solution to his problem is right. That’s where you cannot trust your own judgment, is when you’ve made a mistake. It’s almost essential at such a point in your life to have somebody with you that will say, listen, you’ve got to face facts, be honest. Don’t try to fool yourself or other people. You’ve done the wrong thing. I’ve seen both kinds of men. I’ve seen those that wouldn’t admit they’ve done wrong and I’ve seen those that would. And I’ve seen the difference in their subsequent experience. The ones that won’t admit have more or less cut themselves off from the ongoing flow of the life and purpose of God. And those that will admit can come back into the fullness of God’s life and purpose and go on.
All right. We’ve got one more commitment. It’s really remarkable when you look at scripture how interwoven with these stories are such clear principles and such very well planned examples. We’ve got one more commitment to consider. One final commitment. Let’s look at what Abraham had let go of up to now. He let go his home country, his father, nephew, and his concubine and her son. What more could God ask? What more did God ask? Just one more, what was that? Isaac, that’s right. Wasn’t that strange. Remember, Isaac was the miracle child, the one God had given. And God said now I want him back. And I’m going to tell you, on the basis of scripture, personal observation and experience, whatever God gives you, one day he’ll ask for it back. And whether that thing is blessed or not will depend on how you respond to God’s demand. Let’s read the story, I don’t want to hold out any longer. Genesis 22:
“And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt [or test] Abraham and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (KJV)
How would you have responded to that? I ask you a question; I can’t answer it. You think Abraham talked it over with Sarah?
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his ass...” (KJV)
Whenever God asked Abraham to do anything, he got up early in the morning to do it. And I believe if he hadn’t got up early in the morning he would have never done it. If he had lain in bed and thought it over an hour or two it would have changed the whole course of history.
“...and took two of his young men and Isaac his son, and clave the wood... [now let’s read where it happens, Genesis 22:10. There is Isaac stretched out on the altar, ready to be slain, verse 11] Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” (KJV)
What does that ram typify? Jesus, that’s right. You know what a ram is. The ram is the priestly beast. It was the prince’s sacrifice. What do the horns typify in scripture always? Strength. Why was the ram caught in the thicket by his horns? What was Jesus’ strength? His obedience to the Father. That’s why he couldn’t escape.
All right. Verse 14:
“Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh...” (KJV)
There’s a song JehovahJireh, they were singing it in Israel and our Jewish guide wanted me to interpret. They could not imagine what those words were; JehovahJireh. So I said Adoni ?erai?.
“...as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time. [Now I want you to listen] By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven...” (KJV)
Notice, what you hold onto dwindles. What you yield is multiplied. If he had never given his son, God would never have multiplied his son. The thing you give is the thing God multiplies. God blesses you but he multiplies what you yield. And whatever it may be, it may be your ministry, it may be your business, it may be your social position, but the nearer you get to God, the dearer it will be until finally God picks on the one thing that really matters to you. He says, that’s what I want.
You say, God, that isn’t fair. I don’t think God plays fair. Somebody said all’s fair in love and war. A love relationship doesn’t stick to what’s fair. In a certain sense love is almost the most demanding thing in the world. Love says I want all of you. I don’t want to share you with anybody. The Lord is a jealous God. He says I want all of you, I’m not going to share you with anybody.
The five steps of commitment. Let’s just look at them. Every one was a renunciation. Number one, his home city. Number two, father. Number three, his nephew. Number four, the son he should never have had. And number five, the son God gave him. What’s the story? Progressive commitment. You don’t get there all in one day. If God had started off by telling Abraham what he was going to ask down the end of that road, Abraham would have never started off down that road, would he? The ultimate basis is trusting God. He loves you, he’s concerned about you and he knows much better than you do what you really need.
I’d like to ask that we bow for a moment in prayer. I don’t often do this but I feel today God is prompting me to do this. I’d like everybody to be quiet and shut yourself in with yourself and God, not look around. I just want to help you. I’m sure there’s some of you today who are holding out on a commitment that God is asking you to make. That’s the first thing. The second thing is some of you who have made a mistake and now you’re holding onto Ishmael, you’re not letting him go. And he’s going to poison your life and your whole family. Those of you now that know that God is asking you for a commitment, a further commitment beyond where you’ve gone. I’m not saying anything vague, I’m only dealing with those people with whom God has already been dealing. You know he’s asking a commitment. And right now in the presence of God under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, you say, Lord, whatever it is, you can have it. Would you raise your, hand if that’s your decision? Praise God, look at that! That’s well over half the people here. If you’ll go through with what you’ve decided to do, you’ve moved on one further important step in your spiritual progress.