One Bible story about Roots
The story that runs through the entire Bible is the story of God's campaign to bless the world through Abraham, the patriarch of God's campaign team.
Abraham shows us what it means to trust God's promise to bless the world and (the harder part) to trust the campaign process as God outlines it for us, even when it goes directly against the strategy we would have drawn up ourselves.
God's campaign strategy is the "Trust Strategy" or the "Abraham Strategy." Abraham is the "father" of all those who are willing to trust God more than they trust their own desires or their own knowledge.
Of the many stories we have about Abraham (Genesis 11.27 - 25.8), his trust is most obvious in the following story about "sacrificing" his son Isaac. It sets the Roots Rhythm for us.
The "sacrifice" of Isaac by his father Abraham
Genesis 22.1-18, The Message
1 After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, “Abraham!”
“Yes?” answered Abraham. “I’m listening.”
2 He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”
3-5 Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together.
7 Isaac said to Abraham his father, “Father?”
“Yes, my son.”
“We have flint and wood, but where’s the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “Son, God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.” And they kept on walking together.
9-10 They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son.
11 Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes, I’m listening.”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.”
13 Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, “On the mountain of God, he sees to it.”
15-18 The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.”
The "sacrifice" of Isaac by his father Abraham
(same story as above, but in the New Living Translation)
1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
More about Abraham's trust
The story of Isaac is not the first time Abraham had trusted an incomprehensible instruction from God. This kind of trust was required on Day One when God announced a campaign to bless the world through him.
God's first directive was for Abraham to uproot himself from his homeland, his kin, all his business connections, all his reputation and influence. He was to move to an undisclosed location! God would show him the place when he got there.
This is not a good strategy for getting into a strong position to bless people all over the world. A newcomer has to focus on survival, getting set up before thinking about blessing anyone else. But Abraham moved anyway, leaving it to God to make the plan work somehow.
When God instructed him to move, he also promised him that all families on earth would be blessed. He would be the father of whole tribes and nations. One of those nations would become the "family of Abraham," the God-tribe, the campaign team at the center of God's strategy. God promised to bless those who blessed it and curse those who cursed it. (Genesis 12.1-3)
Those are the roots of the campaign team that God created to bless all groups. In the Abraham story the key to a relationship with God is not submission, understanding, and not even love. It is raw trust in God's campaign promise and his campaign strategy, shown in risky action.
More about Abraham in the big picture of the Bible