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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) 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 in God is most obvious in the following story about his willingness to give up his son Isaac as a human sacrifice at God's request. (Spoiler alert: it didn't happen.) The twist at the end of this story sets the Roots Rhythm for us.


Abraham makes his son Isaac a human sacrifice, almost

Genesis 22.1-18, The Message


Note about Bible versions: We use The Message version of the Bible below because it tells the story so vividly. If you prefer a different translation of the Bible using more traditional language, many are available for free on sites like

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 story behind this story

The story of Isaac is not the first time Abraham had trusted God even though God gave him a strange command without explaining it.  Many years earlier God had promised him that the whole world would be blessed through his descendants, who would grow to become a whole nation, but at the same time God gave him a command that seemed to go against that promise. 
Without explanation God ordered him 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 and start over! 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 in a foreign land has to focus on survival, getting himself and his family set up before thinking about blessing anyone else. But Abraham moved anyway, leaving it to God to make the plan work somehow.
Many years later God's command to offer Isaac as a human sacrifice also seemed to go directly against the promise. Isaac was the promised son, the miracle child of Abraham and Sarah when they were very old. If he, their only child, was killed, how would the promise of a nation of descendants ever come true? 
Abraham had no idea, but he was sure God was telling him to do it. He got the word one night and set out early the next morning to go to the appointed sacred spot. Those are the roots of the campaign team that God created to bless all clans and nations.
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 goodness, his campaign promise, and his campaign strategy.
That kind of trust actually turns us into a different kind of human beings. It is a much stronger motivation than fear of punishment for breaking God's rules. Genesis 3-11 showed us that rules and punishments are never enough to bring humanity into a world of blessing. We do not learn the lessons that history teaches. We can't get ourselves to obey God even when we have plenty of second chances.
But raw trust, Abraham trust, can change us. We show it in our willingness to take the kinds of chances our forefather Abraham took. We may have no more idea than he did how our risky action will lead to what God has promised. We just do it. (BTW, that's why we talk about "Just Do It Groups". See under Activities tab.)
Bottom line: our roots are in God's campaign promise and his personal instructions to us, not in timeless rules that are obvious and the same for everyone. God keeps his promises. Abraham believed that and so do we. 
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