I can see the emotional battle raging in Abraham as he hears the Word of the Lord in Genesis 22. “"Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."
To me Abraham exemplifies God’s admonition to do righteousness and justice, to walk in obedience and the fear of the Lord. He is a man with an intimate relationship with God that impacts every area of his life to include those he loves most! What courage, what faith that Abraham would offer the sacrifice that God had required.
As you continue to read the following scriptures you will see this recurring theme, obedience is better than sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV) So Samuel said: Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Isaiah 1:11-17 (NLT) 11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.12 When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! 15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
Hosea 6:6 (AMP) For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.
Micah 6:8 (NKJV) 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
There are many Christians in sacrificial service in churches across America, teaching Sunday school, serving as board members and others in higher levels of church leadership. These “servants” sacrifice their time, finances, at times relationships and even their health. But are they walking in obedience? Are they living righteous lives and pursuing justice as lovers of mercy, serving God with integrity and humility? Are you?
In conclusion we read the words of Jesus as he weighs in on this topic, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:13 (NASB)
With deepest sincerity I echo the prayer of the Palmist, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24