After the event of the language confusion, that happened when people were building the Tower of Babel, they were spread around the globe. Unfortunately, they forgot about true God on all those new places, they chose to live. They started worshiping the sun, the rivers, some animals or even some small statues they created, also known as idols. All of them though? No. Among all the pagans there was somebody who kept his faith in true God; Abram, like Noah who had lived earlier. Abram had such great faith in God, that God made him a patriarch, which means he was the father and the leader of a whole nation. Also, he was honoured to become the forefather, that is, the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Abram lived at Mesopotamia, in town Harran. The area was called Mesopotamia because it was located in between two big rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. It was a very fertile land in the continent of Asia. So, this is where Abram inhabited along with his wife Sarah. He was a rich man owning lots of herds and lots of servants. He was very generous, and he would share his goods with people in need. Also, he welcomed any long-distance travellers he met. All these could use his home as a place to rest. He was a philanthropist and a hospitable man. Yet, the most important thing about Abraham was his great faith. Although, he lived among pagans, he believed and loved wholeheartedly the true God. And he proved his faith with actions.
-Abram! God’s voice reached him one day. Leave this land, your relatives and your family home and come to live at a place I’ll show you. Do you think that was a simple task God was asking him to do? He was ordered to leave behind his home and his loved ones and direct to the unknown! He had to pack all his belongings up and along with his servants and animals to walk day and night for days, maybe months without even knowing the destination! Was that easy? Of course not! But it was God requesting it. And since it was him, Abram would obey. He was ready, whatever the difficulties, to sacrifice everything for God! This shows his great faith.
God, also, gave him a great promise:
“From you I will create a great nation and all the earth’s tribes will be blessed”.
God repeated this promise to him many times:
“Your descendants will be many, countless, like the stars in the sky!”
God changed his name as well: From Abram to Abraham, which means “the father of many nations”.
Yet, time was passing year by year. Abraham got old. His wife, Sarah was sterile, meaning she could not give birth to a child. And then all these promises from God that his descendants would be countless, how could they turn real when they were childless? So, had Abraham stopped believing in God’s promises? Nothing, could have shaken his vast faith in God. If God said it, it will be done! So, what if it seems impossible? Nothing is impossible to God!
God indeed led Abraham to the rich land of Canaan. And in this place God gifted him with many goods, but also gave him an unbelievable happiness: a child, a graceful son. He named the boy “Isaac”, which means “laughter, joy”. Abraham was truly happy! And he felt even greater happiness since God had promised him that from his generation lots of nations would grow and God’s blessing would come to the earth.
One day, however, God said to him: “Abraham! Take your beloved son, Isaac, who you love so much and go to the mountain where I will show you. There you will offer him to me as sacrifice!”
What? Did he hear well? To offer Isaac as a sacrifice, his one and only son and be-loved child? God’s order was like a stab in Abraham’s heart. Such a sacrifice sur-passed his powers. And then, what about the promises that God had given him, how could they be realized?
And yet, Abraham the next day, early in the morning prepared the wood for the sacrifice and loaded it on the donkey. He took with him two servants and Isaac, and he set out for the mountain that God had told him to go.
Will he sacrifice, then, Isaac? But God had asked him to! Abraham was ready, however difficult it might be, to do even the greatest sacrifice for God! This shows the size of his faith.
Abraham fully trusting in God, he set off along with his beloved son, Isaac, to of-fer God a sacrifice high on the mountain. When the place of sacrifice was seen from afar, he unloaded the donkey and gave the wood to the unsuspecting Isaac to carry. Himself took the knife in his hands and what was needed for the fire and leaving be-hind the servants, father and son started going up the mountain. As they were walk-ing, Isaac asked:
“Father, here is the fire and the wood for the sacrifice! But where is the sheep we are going to sacrifice?”
“God will take care of the sheep for sacrifice, my child”, answered the faithful Abraham.
Without exchanging any more words, they continued to move on, until they reached the top of the mountain.
There, Abraham set up an altar with stones, he put the wood on top of it, tied up Isaac and he placed him on the woods of the altar. He stretched out his hand to reach the knife for the sacrifice but on the last moment he heard a voice from the heavens, the voice of an angel: "Abraham! Do not put your hand upon the child and do not harm him. God has seen how much you respect him, since for his sake you did not feel sorry sacrificing even your beloved child."
Abraham then lifted his eyes and saw a ram having his horns caught in a plant called Savek!
He took the ram and offered it as a sacrifice to God, full of gratitude for his love! Then God for one more time repeated to Abraham his great promise: "Your de-scendants will be countless, like the stars in the sky and like the sand of the sea. And from your generation shall come the blessing to the nations."
Meaning that from Abraham’s generation Christ would be born, the savior of the world.
Our Sacrifices for God
What did God see in Abraham and blessed him in such abundance? His great faith! And how did Abraham show his faith in God? By his obedience to the will of God; by doing big sacrifices in order to be obedient to God’s will.
What about us? How much do we believe in God? How can we count the weight of our faith in him? By counting the sacrifices, we make for God.
What sacrifices, do you think, can children make for God?
♦ They can sacrifice their sleep, for going to church on a Sunday morning.
♦ They can sacrifice doing activities with their friends, for Sunday school.
♦ They can sacrifice enjoying some delicious food, for fasting periods or when they are going to receive the Holy Communion.
♦ They can sacrifice their free time, for visiting someone who is sick or relatives or neighbors who live alone and seek some company.
♦ They can also sacrifice their pocket money for charity, giving their savings to the special box for the poor that there is in every Orthodox church.
All these sacrifices can measure our faith. And if sometimes it seems hard to make such sacrifices, we can only think of the huge sacrifice that Christ made for us. We should think this: "Jesus Christ sacrificed himself on the cross for me. In front of his great sacrifice, whatever sacrifice of mine is tiny!".