March 13: Who Takes the Punishment?
Fast-forward from Adam to Abraham, about 2,000 years. God told then 75-year old Abraham to leave all that he knew to “travel to a land I will show you.” And he obeyed! There were several adventures along the way but the one we’ll focus on today is from Genesis 15. There God promises Abraham a reward for his obedience. Abraham says back to God, in essence, “A reward is great – but I have no heirs so anything you give me will go to my servant!” But God assures Abraham that he really will be a dad one day – even in his old age. And then, to guarantee His word, God does something that would be strange in our culture but was the custom of that day. In order to make a covenant or promise, the parties involved would meet. They would then place split carcasses of animals in a path, with half of the animal on each side. Then one or both parties would walk through the path, dramatically symbolizing the consequences of what would happen if the promise was broken. Breaking the covenant equaled death. God tells Abraham to arrange the animals so that a covenant could be made and then he put Abraham into a deep sleep. While he was asleep, he saw a brazier full of coals representing God go through the path. However, Abraham was never required to walk the path of promise! In other words, God was saying, “I am making a promise to you, Abraham, to make you a great nation and to bless the entire world through you. But when you and yours break faith with me, you won’t take the punishment – I will.” And sure enough, God’s promises to Abraham were fulfilled. Out of Abraham’s son of the promise, Isaac, came the nation of Israel. And out of Israel came the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. We have broken faith with God many, many times. And yet, God willingly gave up his Son, Jesus, as the “punishment that brought us peace.”
Adoration: Praise God for being willing to be both the Promise Keeper and the One who bore the punishment for our sin on Himself. Thank Him for His grace and mercy.
Confession: Spend time seeking God, asking the Holy Spirit to show you where you are breaking covenant with God or with others in your life. Confess what He brings to mind and purpose in your heart to walk a different way.
Thanksgiving: Thank God that as far back as Abraham, He had you in mind. Consider praying back to Him Romans 5:6 (AMP), “While we were still helpless [powerless to provide for our salvation], at the right time Christ died [as a substitute] for the ungodly.”
Supplication: Ask God to bring to mind the people that you need to invite to come with you for Easter Sunday. Start praying for them now, asking that God would soften their hearts to hear of His love for them.