PARTIAL OBEDIENCE IS DISOBEDIENCE
On the third day, Abraham saw the mountains of Moriah in the distance. He told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:5). Notice his faith-filled words, “we will come back to you.”
Abraham determined to follow through with what he knew in his heart to be true—that God would raise Isaac from the dead. Partial obedience is disobedience. There is no better illustration of partial obedience than when, many years later, God asked King Saul to rid Israel of the Amalekites, because they had attacked the children of Israel as they came up from Egypt. His command was to completely destroy them, including animals. Their evil ways against God would be as sin is to a body; left unconquered, they would be as cancer, eating away the good.
Saul did as God commanded through his prophet Samuel—except, he brought back the Amalekite king and allowed his soldiers to keep sheep and cattle. When asked why, Saul said to Samuel, “to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal” (1 Sam. 15:21 emphasis added). Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”—1 Samuel 15:22-23
OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE
Obedience is better than sacrifice. God’s purpose for instituting sacrifices of the best animal with no defect, besides the shedding of blood [discussed in Chapter 4], was to teach obedience to His Word, and to lay the groundwork for when He would send His perfect Lamb. Saul did not revere the Word of God. He rebelled. His words make that clear. To him, God was Samuel’s God, not his own, and from that day forward, God prepared a young shepherd boy, David, to take over as king.
In contrast, Abraham believed and obeyed God from the very beginning, and he did so immediately. And it was counted to him as righteousness. Abraham took the wood and placed it on his son. He carried the fire pot and the knife, and they walked on, seeking the exact place of worship God said He would show him.