Mount Moriah - Meditation
So the story is about Mount Moriah, Abraham and Isaac going to the mountain where Abraham would sacrifice his son. And in the telling of the story a lot of people have said that the main point is the faith of Abraham. That’s wrong. It’s not the main point. It is not about two people going to that mountain, it’s about four people.
And there’s where we start to get into what actually is going on. Over the past week my wife and I have been going through a time of illness in my life where we honestly didn’t know if I was going to pull through. There is a certain heartbreak in facing those things many of you know that. And it’s been said that the greatest heartbreak is in the loss of a son, of a child. Again, many know that. So what do you call Mount Moriah. One idea of what to call it is heartbreak mountain, because of the heartbreaking things that are about to happen there. Abraham bringing his son. Abraham giving his son up, and then finding out that it is about more than Abraham and Isaac.
Lord may the words of my meditation be acceptable in Your sight. You see, the main idea is not Abraham and Isaac. It is God. God and Mount Moriah. Now you can change the name of Mt. Moriah from heartbreak mountain to mountain of heartbreak shared. Because you see Moriah is later known as Zion or Calvary, and let me do a little retelling of the story, putting the knowledge that comes in the end back in toward the beginning.
God says to Abraham, “Abraham, will you walk with me? I need you to walk with me. Because I am doing something that is breaking my heart.” And Abraham says, “Okay, what do you want.” God says take your son, your only son whom you love. Bring him to the mountain that I will show you and offer him there as a sacrifice. And in the going to Mount Moriah, Abraham is walking with God. He is sharing what it’s like to be the father bringing his son to that mountain. And actually Jesus is calling Isaac into it, Isaac walk with Me. Okay. And Isaac you and I will be carrying the wood. We will be watching the preparation. And we will be placed on the altar. You will be tied up, and I, I will be nailed to it. And we will watch, you as your father takes the knife, and I as My Father turns away and judges for all the sin of the world.
Now there is an afterward. And that is why Isaac is called Isaac. The name means laughter. He was named laughter when his mother didn’t think she would be able to have a child and then God fulfilled his promise and Sarah said, “Laugh with me, because God has done what He promised.” But the name laughter isn’t only for that time. It is for the walk down the mountain, when Abraham has received back his son restored to life. Symbolically restored back to life. It is named for Jesus in the time after. Easter morning and He laughs as He says to Mary, “Mary” and then she sees and then runs and tells.
But the point I want to concentrate on today is the closeness. God says to Abraham, “Will you walk with Me.” There is a deep thing that happens when you share a walk heading to whatever heartbreak mountain that you have to go to. Many of you have prayed for me, and have prayed for us. Thank you. You shared the walk. To be able to come home from the hospital. And whatever the result is, home from the hospital and my wife and I were together. Sharing in whatever that walk is and there is more and more hope that this is to life. And we may look back and we may laugh. But consider, God draws close the Abraham, and in the theme of my life has become lately, God says to Abraham, “I love you. I want you in My Kingdom.” God says to Abraham, “I love you and I want you with me.” There is a call to that closeness with God. He invites. He invites into the deepest relationship we could ever have. That is one of the aspects. God invites us. Sometimes when he calls us, he calls us to share in the sorrows that are part of the whole arc of the story of salvation. There are sorrows there. But realize, some of the sorrows are the sorrows of God. The sorrows of God the Father who must give and sacrifice His own son. He is walking a long walk to get to that mountain, to the day of the actual sacrifice, a long walk. And some of it is the sorrows of Jesus. You see that in the Gospels when it’s in Gethsemane and Jesus says to Peter and James and John, “Come with Me.” And says, “My soul is sorrowful unto death. Watch with Me.” There is a deepness in the relationship that is absolutely amazing to be invited to share such a moment with God. That is part of the story. And indeed as God calls you. As he says, “Walk with me.” As he says, “I love you and I want you in my kingdom.” There is a lot to share in watching Him go through that. And now turn it completely around and realize why the whole thing is. Finally it is not only that God is inviting us to share in His sorrows and then in the joy that come after. He is coming close to you. You’ve got your Mount Moriahs, times of life that are heartbreak mountain. But you see, Mount Moriah is not just heartbreak mountain, it is mountain of heartbreak shared. Because God will stoop down, come to us, and he will put Himself in the place where He shares in all of the heartbreaks in order to bring the joys, bring the joys that are the after everything, the joy becomes all encompassing. He holds that out to us and invites us to share in His joy. We hope to hear at the end, “Well down good and faithful servant.” And then what? “Enter into the joy of your master.” And so it is mountain of heartbreak shared. God did not have to stoop down and walk with us through our troubles, but He did. He did not have to love us and call us from the mess of this world, but He did. He didn’t have to take all of our sin in him, but He did.
And now we are drawing close to Christmas. And realize as we draw each day closer to Christmas, all that it means that Jesus Christ is the Gift. He’s the Gift of Christmas, the Gift given, and as He is given He knows there will be heartbreak mountain where he will share in our heartbreaks. And finally by the forgiveness of sins, by his death that gives us resurrection, by His resurrection that gives us joy, He will give that amazing and wondrous gift that He calls us to walk with Him, past heartbreak mountain, past the mountain of heartbreak shared, and into an unending and eternal joy. To run with Jesus into all eternity, what an amazing prospect. What an amazing vision. In Jesus name, Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.