The AMI QT Devotionals from November 20-26 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland. Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles). He is married to Christina.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
There is a particular moment that has defined the faith of my family. To condense it for the sake of time, my life changed dramatically at the age of thirteen. My parents had gone through a lot of transition in ministry that year where we witnessed how broken people can be even in the church. In this season of desperation, my parents sought the Lord. And through revelation and divine appointments, my parents believed that the Lord was calling them back to a church in Korea. What this meant was that they would leave my 16-year-old sister and me to live on our own in an apartment in Utah.
In today’s passage, we see one of these defining moments (perhaps the most famous one) in Abraham’s life. What’s interesting is that when we isolate the act of killing his son, it is clearly an immoral act, that is, it is a clear violation of not only human ethics but the ways of God. Yet God commands him. How do we make sense of this?
Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian, writes about this very event. He introduces something called the teleological suspension of the ethical. It is this notion where what is ethical is suspended because obedience to a unique calling of God for a purpose (telos) trumps what is considered moral. To overly simplify this, because God is God, obedience to Him is higher than even the moral laws.
Now, it is very dangerous to extract just this notion and apply it generally. In fact, Kierkegaard goes to great lengths to explain the kind of faith journey that leads to this unique understanding of calling. But what this story and Kierkegaard point to is not so much about this moment of decision to obey God; rather, it points to the spiritual journey that Abraham had been on with God. It is through his ongoing relationship with God that he was able to recognize this pivotal moment in his faith. This relationship that Abraham had built with God was what led him to the place where he could hear God’s voice calling out his name. And as others like Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah will later respond, Abraham was able to say, “Here I am” and obey.
Did it make sense for my parents to leave two teenagers alone in a different country? Was this the right thing to do? I can’t say for sure on a moral level, but I can confidently say that because my parents had been walking in a relationship with God and a lifestyle of honoring Him, they were able to obey. I pray that I too will be able to obey when these moments come. I pray that all of us would be in such an intimate, love relationship with God that when He speaks, we too may be able to lay it all down and say, “Here I am.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for this story. There are many things that’s hard to understand, but it points us to the kind of relationship You had built with Abraham that led him to this point. It was You who initiated it, and it was You who sustained it. And I believe You want that same kind of relationship with me. As I learn to walk with You, may the purposes of God be fulfilled in my life as I walk in intimate relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 24
Lunch Break Study
Read John 10.1-5: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Questions to Consider
- How does the shepherd relate with the sheep? How do the sheep know him?
- If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep, what does this passage teach us about our relationship with Him? How do we determine where we ought to go or what we need to do?
- How does this passage challenge your notion of what is right or wrong? How does this change how you might view your life?
- The key word here is voice. The shepherd is recognized by his voice, as he calls his own to him. He leads them out, and the sheep follow by his voice.
- First thing is that this passage doesn’t limit us to the audible voice of God. It does point us to the fact that our Good Shepherd speaks to us, and when He speaks, He leads us and goes before us. To go deeper, what we consider right or wrong is no longer dictated by our own thoughts, but it is anchored on His voice. In other words, where we go, what we do is not in relation to Him who leads us.
- Personal response. In what ways is the Good Shepherd speaking to you that you might be resisting because according to our determination of what is good or right doesn’t quite match how He is speaking to us?
The best life we can possibly live here on earth is to live in utter obedience and dependence on Him, even when it seems crazy or radical. Of course, there is wisdom and discernment that is involved, but what is clear is that all of this cannot be determined outside of an intimate relationship with Him. In what ways is God calling you to a deeper intimacy with Him? Respond to Him in prayer and commit yourself.