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And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt 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. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. (Genesis 22:1~4)
The Change that Opened My Covered Heart
There were many changes I experienced in my life after receiving salvation. One of them was how God had me open my heart. Before, I would not trust other people’s words, and I also did not speak straight from my heart. I thought telling everything that was in my heart would be foolish and idiotic because others then would be able to see everything inside of me. I thought a person was wise when saying things different from what was in his heart. In this manner, I had never opened my heart to another person. Another reason I did not open my heart was that I wanted to make myself look great in front of others. If I were to speak honestly, my shortcomings would be revealed and I did not like that. Therefore people did not know my heart, as I had not once opened my heart and had a conversation because I wanted to amplify myself as a good person. I would only answer according to what the circumstances were. I would only listen to others with my ears, but I had never accepted their words with my heart. Even when listening to the Word of God, I would say, “That’s what the Word of God says, but this is what I think,” and did not accept the words for what they were. I only followed my thoughts and my perceptions. One day, however, I became startled as I was reading the Word of God. “Surely I had lived like a fool!” My opinions were so foolish, stupid, and pitiful compared to the heart and the will of God. In addition, I realized how foolish it was to follow my thoughts without accepting the words that stated that God knows everything regarding my future and that He is working for me. My heart crumbled down from that moment on and the words of God began to enter my heart, one by one. Before, I had myself established at the core of my heart and accepted only the words that fit me or looked right in my eyes. But now, regardless of what words I receive from God, though they may appear to not fit my heart or appear incorrect, I think, “Are my thoughts right or is the Word of God right?” and throw my thoughts away more and more. The interesting thing is that as I began to accept the words of God, I was able to accept the words of people as well. I was able to accept my wife’s words into my heart, my children’s words, and even accept the words of my colleagues and church members into my heart. As I accepted other people’s words into my heart, their hearts and mine would become one, and I was able to be completely free and have much peace. I often thought, “Why did I not live in this kind of a wonderful world earlier on?”
The Taste of Man Apart from Faith
I came to know that Abraham went through the same kind of change that I had. God called Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 and said: 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 thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; (Genesis 12:1-2) Abraham followed these words of promise, leaving his country, his father’s house, and going to the land of Canaan. However, a famine hit the land as soon as he arrived at Canaan, so he went down to Egypt. As he went, he thought, “My wife is so beautiful that the people of Egypt may try to take my wife from me and kill me.” He told his wife, “Call me your brother and say that you are my sister.” Because God said to Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will make you into a blessing,” Abraham, therefore, cannot die. But Abraham did not have faith that God would protect him in order to keep His promise. The promise God made to him was not in his heart and only his thoughts remained. Thus, he thought, “The Egyptians may kill me to take my wife. I should say that she is my sister in order to protect my life.” These kinds of thoughts are possible only apart from the faith to trust in the promise of God. The ingredients of the foods determine the flavors of the foods. Likewise, people with faith have the flavor of faith. People who have the Word of God in their hearts have unique thoughts that are made only through the Word. Just as you can get an egg if you raise a hen, there is a unique power that comes about from the Word when faith enters your heart, as well as beauty, love, and peace. Had the Word of God been alive in Abraham’s heart, he would have thought, “No, God said that He will make me into a great nation. How can that happen if I die?”, when he felt that the Egyptians were going to kill him and take his wife. He would have immediately been freed from his worries and fears. The thoughts that arise from having the Word alive in your heart cannot be imitated or produced through anything else.
Even after this incident, Abraham continued to have no faith, and when he could not have a child with his wife Sarah, he had Ishmael by taking his wife’s handmaid. Had there been the slightest possibility that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, could have a son, would she have sent another woman into her husband’s room? When we analyze Sarah’s heart about the time she gave Hagar to Abraham as a concubine, we can see that such a thought is only possible when she was absolutely sure that she could not have a son. What kind of a woman would want to allow her husband to be with another woman? Although God had said that He would give her a son, she had the heart that she could not have a son, which was a heart formed from distrust. You may sing hymns, pray, read the Bible, or witness, but the thoughts and life that come about through having faith in one’s heart cannot be imitated. A person with faith and a person without are completely different when it comes to certain things.
If the Word Is Alive in Your Heart
Suppose I wanted to go to the United States with my son. I say to him, “We will be going to America and I purchased your airplane ticket. So you just pack your bags and come along.” If he trusts my words, he would be completely free concerning the airplane ticket, no matter how expensive or difficult it is to obtain. The faith to receive salvation from sin works in the exact same way. This is what God has said: I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isaiah 44:22) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6) If these words are alive in your heart, these words defeat all thoughts of sin. Even if the thoughts, “I sinned today; I committed evil today; I have many sins . . . ,” arise in you, these words immediately stir up in your heart, “God said that He laid all of our sins upon Jesus, and Jesus bore them. These sins are taken care of.” The Word defeats all fears of sin when the Word is alive in your heart. Although God said to Abraham, “I will make thee a great nation,” he was afraid that he would be killed. This fear was not defeated by the Word of God, but rather, the fear was working in his heart because he had no faith to believe in the Word in his heart. If you have the faith to trust in the Word of God, there is nothing that can defeat it. Regardless of what circumstance you are in, the things of the present, nor the things of the future, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor whatever it is that you face, it cannot erase the Word of God from inside you. Yes, It Can Be Done if God Does It!
Much time had passed, and God once again appeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old. “You shall not be called Abram, but be called Abraham. I will make you into a great nation. I will have your wife deliver you a son.” Abraham laughed. “How could someone who’s one hundred years old have a son? Sarah is ninety.” God once again spoke to Abraham, “No, your wife, Sarah, will surely bear you a son. Thou shalt call his name Isaac.” Right then Abraham realized that he had distrusted God. He said, “Right, it can be done if God does it!” and was able to have faith in his heart. “Then I will have a son! If God gives me a son, although my wife and I are old, we will have a son!” When he had that faith, God gave Abraham a son. Before, Abraham would accept the Word of God within his limitations and calculations. But Abraham now had the faith that it can indeed be done if God does it because God is almighty. God taught that faith to Abraham, and Abraham learned this faith and had a son.
Offer Isaac as a Burnt Offering
Abraham’s son, Isaac, grew much. Then one day, God spoke to Abraham, “Take thy only son, Isaac, to Mt. Moriah which I have told you of and offer him as a burnt offering.” A burnt offering involves skinning a sheep or a cow, cutting it into pieces, removing all its intestines, washing them out in water, and burning it in the fire. However, God was telling Abraham to give not a cow or a sheep, but Isaac as a burnt offering. What kind of a heart do you think Abraham had then? God promised Abraham, “You will have many seeds like the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea through Isaac.” He also promised, “Christ, who will have all mankind be blessed, will be born through Isaac,” and Abraham believed this promise. Therefore, when God said to offer Isaac, the faith, “How could the promise of God be achieved if Isaac dies? Ah, even if I do give him as a burnt offering, God will bring him to life to fulfill His promise! Even if I kill Isaac he will come to life, be married, have a son, and have many descendents like the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea. And Christ will be born among his descendents!” arose in his heart. Thus, freedom came upon Abraham’s heart. Abraham then placed some wood, which is the first thing necessary for the burnt offering, upon Isaac’s back and led Isaac to Mt. Moriah. Then at the peak of the mountain, he tied Isaac onto the altar and was going to kill him with a knife. If Abraham did not have the faith to believe in the promise of God, he would have said, “Isaac, today is your last day. I have to kill you with my own hands today. I don’t know why it is so hard to believe in God. Isaac, do not hate your father for this,” having experienced unbearable agony, despair, and a heartbreaking pain. He might have said, “God, I will die instead. I can never offer Isaac. How could I kill the son I gained at the age of 100? God, forgive me. I cannot do this.” All kinds of thoughts would have risen from Abraham’s heart. However, when we read the Bible, Abraham was not that way. In Hebrews chapter 11, it says that Abraham offered Isaac through faith. By faith . . . Abraham . . . offered up Isaac . . . Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:17-19) Abraham was neither afraid nor sad because he had faith. He had the heart, “Now I will see the power of God. I will see how God brings him back to life when I kill Isaac.” Then he tried to kill Isaac with a knife to offer him as a burnt offering. Right then God said, “Abraham! Abraham!” and told him not to lay his hand on Isaac. “God, I will kill him. Didn’t you tell me to kill him?” Isaac was no longer something for Abraham to worry about, but for God. Not Knowing the Heart of God Who Had Jesus Crucified
People without faith are unable to believe in God and try to do the things God should do. How painful and miserable it would be if Abraham was told to kill Isaac when he had no faith! When you do not have faith, everything becomes your responsibility. It becomes your responsibility to wash your sins away, to keep from committing sins, and to live happily. However, if you have the faith to believe in God, then all of these things are no longer yours but God’s. Faith is God’s heart and your heart becoming one. When what you are trying to do is what God is trying to do, there is nothing to worry about. Because it was God’s work to establish Isaac in order for Christ, who would save all of mankind, to be born, Abraham has nothing to worry about in protecting Isaac. There are many people who are suffering because they have not received the forgiveness of sin. Why do they live this way? It is because they are trying to wash their sins away themselves. It is because they do not know the heart of God that wants to wash their sins away and the heart of God that did not spare His only begotten son, but crucified Him. When we see Jesus who was crucified, we can discover the will of God that wanted to wash our sins away. If God wanted to wash our sins away with that kind of a heart, why could He not wash away our sins? But people are unable to understand and accept the heart of God that is for us and simply fall into thinking, “I have to wash my sins away,” and labor to somehow wash them away. If you were to take care of your sins, what means do you possess to go about doing so? If we could take care of our sins, why would Jesus have to be crucified and killed? Because we cannot do it, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified. God sent His son to this earth and had Him crucified to wash our sins away. Then could that not wash our sins away? We must search for the answer to this inside the Scriptures. Nevertheless, people do not open the Bible to see whether the death of Jesus washed their sins away or not. There are so many people who simply ignore God and follow their own thoughts.
If You Become a Person Who Believes the Promise
Abraham first lived without faith. He did not value or believe the Word and followed his own thoughts although he did hear the Word. Even though God said that He would make him into a great nation, he strained to save himself. When it seemed in his thoughts that he could not have a son, he took a handmaid and had a son. Abraham, who was like this, gained faith to believe in God as he walked with God. Afterwards, when it was time for Isaac to be married, he sent his old servant, saying, “God promised me. He said that He will give me many seeds through Isaac. A wife for Isaac has been prepared.” The faith to believe in God came upon Abraham. Therefore, he was able to cast all of his burdens upon God, and was truly at peace. Suppose Abraham had to labor to gain many seeds like the stars of the sky and sands of the sea. How difficult it would be! He would always be anxious, thinking, “Isaac should quickly have children. Why isn’t he having children?” Our receiving the forgiveness of sins, living the holy life, or living the bright life, all of these things are God’s responsibilities. But when we do not have the faith to believe this, we try to do these things ourselves and we labor. If you become people with faith in God, however, true peace will come upon you and God will add His grace to your lives.