David, Jesus, & Aragorn
(Though not necessarily in that order)
By Fred Pruitt
I've known, read, and here and there studied the story of Abraham & Isaac for a lot of years now. For some time I've focused on the first part of Abraham's story, his believing God's promise, and Abraham's walk of faith in the years preceding Isaac's birth.
All this time the story of Moriah has been looming out there in the distance for me.
But you can't know a thing until its time.
There is a time in faith when you come to the point of total weakness and accept death -- because you know it is beyond you to accomplish or bring forth that which you've taken in your faith -- and death is simply the giving up, giving up trying, giving up seeking a particular result. It's casting yourself into the God of Mercy, and quite literally accepting your own death and total divorcement from any hope of accomplishment. You're finished. You don't even have the strength left to say God will complete it. (It would) be nice if He would. But it's not up to you, and you have no more say-so in the matter. Done. Fine'.
I'm a fan of Tolkien's Trilogy & the two movies so far have hung the moon for me. More than I could have asked for or imagined could be done on screen with the story. I don't think I'll give the story away if I talk of Aragorn a bit, since it is already clear in the first two movies that he is the King who returns to take up His rightful Throne in the ancient kingdom of Gondor. That's all I'll give away of the details of the third installment due out next Christmas. (My apologies to those not familiar with Lord of the Rings.)
What has struck me about Aragorn, both in the movies but brought out far more in the books, is that he is completely aware of his eventual ascension to the Throne, that he will someday be king. The movies kind of make it look like he's running from his destiny, but that isn't so. He is purposely going toward his destiny, that he's been aware of since a small child.
All his life, however, there is nothing that would indicate such a thing could ever be. Aragorn is like David in this sense, who knew he would be king, had been anointed to be, but there seems no natural possibility of its fulfillment, save he put his own hand toward fulfilling his destiny and taking it by force -- as David was tempted to do in his opportunities to kill Saul.
And, like David, Aragorn becomes involved in the issues of the day and thrusts himself in harm's way, risking his own death on a daily basis, to defend Middle Earth against the invasion from Mordor, the minions of the Dark Lord. David and his men, apart from Saul and the armies of Israel, fought the Philistines and defended the borders. David was in the midst of the battle with the men -- the anointed king, not king yet -- risking death even though the promise was not yet fulfilled. He's been anointed by Samuel the prophet who the Lord told, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart!"
It hit me like a ton of bricks when it struck me that Aragorn, who maybe reluctantly would be king, but nonetheless WAS king by giving up his kingdom everytime he rode against Orcs or Balrogs, who knew as any man would that he was totally killable -- an Orc arrow or axe blade or Troll bite could finish him in a moment. Yet he, knowing one day he would ride into Gondor as the Conquering King, still braved the arrows and swords and every other instrument of death the enemies launched his way. Not out of any mistaken idea that he was special and arrows couldn't hurt him. He KNEW he could be killed, and many a time in battle there was no hope that they would live through it. Death was his daily reality, often professing no hope, yet perceiving somehow a glimmer of hope in no hope, he persisted on.
Yet he knew he would someday be king.
Surely it was much the same with David. He lived in the caves in the mountains with his men for years. Lived off the land. Never tried to take the kingdom from Saul. Sought throughout the land by Saul and his armies, as well as the armies of the Philistines. Facing death a thousand times. Knowing surely he could die at any time by the hand of Saul or even a traitor in his midst.
Yet he, too, knew one day he would be king.
Abraham's "being king" was embodied in the son of promise, Isaac. Ninety-nine years of Abraham's life led up to the birth of Isaac. After all that, you'd think it would be smooth sailing from then on out. No way.
In Genesis 22 God tells Abraham to take his son to a mountain in the land of Moriah, and offer his son up for a burnt offering when he gets there. So Abraham rounds up Isaac, 2 young men servants, some donkeys, wood, fire, provisions and a knife to kill the sacrifice, and off they set out to the land of Moriah, where God will tell him which mountain to use for the sacrifice.
"Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." (Gen 22:4).
Third day, huh? There is no record of their conversation the previous two days.
The third day the first thing Abraham says is to the servants:
"Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." (22:5)
For three days Abraham has been walking, holding the knife in his hand that he will plunge into his son Isaac. Abraham died to anything else the moment he heard God's word and gathered his party and provisions and set out on the road. Three days he must've walked, three days maybe of inward weeping, of hopelessness yet determination, of questioning why this had to be, yet walking step by step toward the mountains in the distance.
They must've been black nights under the clear stars of Canaan. Their tents must've been quiet. Neither the servants nor Isaac knew the true nature of their journey, but Abraham couldn't completely conceal the grimness that had seized his bones, which surely put a morbid pall on their encampment. Yet in the midst of Abraham's hell were whispers of mercy, barely heard, barely clung to.
But the third day he lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.
What did he see? The mountain of sacrifice. Where the lamb of God would be slain. Where the Son of God would arise from the dead.
The third day was the resurrection. Abraham died when the word of the Lord came to him to kill Isaac, and rose again on the third day when he lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.
Only then could he speak his prophetic word that "I AND the lad will go and come again unto you."
He didn't know how, he didn't have a clue. He planned to go through with the plan, to tie Isaac up, bind him to an altar, and plunge a knife into him. The plan was sealed. But even so, Abraham saw beyond that to the resurrection of Christ.
I'm not talking about Jesus' resurrection in Palestine 2000 years ago, though of course it means and points to that. I'm talking about the resurrection taking place in the midst of death right now. My death. Your death. Anybody's death.
Abraham in his own death died to Isaac as well, to anything but God Himself. Isaac died for him the moment God told him to do it and he agreed to it. That was a foregone conclusion. When you get to that point you don't even expect resurrection.
But the third day he saw the place afar off. Out of the mist the Living God arose, and the word welled up in Abraham in answer to Isaac's query, "My son, God will provide Himself a Lamb for a burnt offering."
And STILL he marches up that mountain, having seen the vision of God, having received the word in his heart that he and Isaac will descend back down the mountain together, STILL he ties Isaac with cords and binds him as a sacrifice to the altar, and STILL he raises that knife, with every intent to drive it into the chest of his only begotten son of promise. Even while "seeing the place afar off" he starts his downward thrust into the heart of promise.
The angel stays his hand at that final moment, Isaac is freed, and a ram suddenly bleats from the bushes.
Jesus, endured the cross, for the joy that was set before him.
When Abraham and Isaac were both "raised," that was when God told Abraham that through his seed "all nations would be blessed."
If a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it brings forth much fruit.
We are about resurrection. We are sent out to attain resurrection. Not the resurrection of our bodies in the final day, but the resurrection of our brothers and sisters into the liberty of the sons of God. Our final resurrection we see afar off. Today we are as sheep counted for the slaughter.
Maybe that sounds morbid but it isn't. It's the process of God's nature. To be in God's kingdom is to be in the flow of His resurrection, which springs out of death. Out of a cross.
But it's not the hopeless death of suicidal despair. It's the purposed death that wrenches your emotions and destroys your body and kills your brain cells, makes you a laughingstock and a fool to everyone around, into which you finally sink down into its pit of hellish death, but because, His Word was your life going in, even in giving up the ghost and crying "My God my God why hast thou forsaken me?", the word is alive in the secret place in the midst of your heart, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of God," (Ps 118:17), and "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (Ps 16:10).
Yea, we are killed all the day long, counted as sheep for the slaughter. Not to perdition, but to resurrection!
We die to Live, to give life. We bear about in the body daily the dying of the Lord Jesus.
Believe that and quit judging yourself. Have faith in God. Believe that EVERYTHING in your life is redemptive. Whatever it is. If you think you got yourself into the mess you're in, think again. He works all things after the counsel of His Own Will. The first of the four spiritual laws is true: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. It's TRUE!
You're in it right now. In the plan. And the plan for now is for you and me to continue to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. Don't judge whether the stuff in your life is "worthy" to be called that. Leave it to God.
If you and He are one, if you live, yet not you but He lives your life, then you are about nothing but Him, because that is what He is about. And He is still enduring the cross, despising the shame, in and as you and me for the redemption of the world. In whatever we do.
And resurrection WILL come! Why? Because in the midst of that cross the inner word came to you, and you lifted up your eyes and saw the place afar off.
Believe the word He has spoken to you.