Scattered throughout the Bible there have been men who have responded to the call of God by answering, “Here I am.” From the testing of Abraham in Genesis to the ministering of Ananias in Acts, these men have heard God call them and responded positively, obeying God’s command – even when it potentially could cost them dearly. These are real men of God, men who love God and seek to obey Him. These are great men to meditate on, their lives and character clearly demonstrate how to live for God.
But, there are also men in the Bible who did not answer the call of God with an obedient “Here I am.” In fact, their response could be described as “I’m not here.” We need to be wary that we do not resist or prevent the call from God and learn from the mistakes of these men as we seek and strive for godliness.
In Genesis 3 the world turns upside down, the natural, created, good nature of the world is put out of sync by the fall of mankind. Sin enters the world, death enters the world and the fashion industry is born. Adam and Eve broke the one commandment they had, they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their eyes were opened and they realised they were naked and tried to hide themselves from God. God came to the Garden and sought them out, God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” To which Adam responded (because obviously you can’t hide from an omnipresent, omniscience God), “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Adam had an opportunity to repent, he had an opportunity to reply to GOD, “Here I am, I have sinned.” but he hid himself. He hid himself, then he tried to pass his sin onto God (by blaming the Almighty for giving him a wife). When God called Adam, he hid, ashamed and afraid. Instead of running to God, Adam tried to run from God.
Abraham was promised by God to be the father of a nation at the age of 75. It was until the age of 100 that Abraham became the father of Isaac, the son of the promise. Some time after Isaac was born, God called Abraham again. He was testing Abraham. Abraham heard God and willingly answered, “Here I am.” He asked Abraham to,
“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Abraham didn’t question, Abraham didn’t argue, Abraham obeyed. When Abraham said, “Here I am” to God, he was trusting God and living in obedience to God, regardless of how insane he may have thought it. The author of Hebrews highlights Abraham’s trust in God.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”
It may have been crazy to think that this man, who was on the far side of 100, who had only one son (yet was promised to be father to a nation) could sacrifice his one chance to see that prophecy fulfilled. Yet his hope was not in Isaac, his son, but in God. And just as he was about to plunge the knife into his son, God called Abraham again; and again (without even a hint of hesitance) Abraham answered, “Here I am.“ His trust in God above all else, even his son, was evident. God proved a suitable sacrifice. Even when it appeared to be costing him everything he had, his most prized possession, his only son, his future and his legacy; when God called Abraham, he answered, “Here I am” and obediently followed God’s instruction.
The grandson of Abraham, Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) was also called by God and answered with “Here I am.” In his later years, when Joseph had been rediscovered as governor of Egypt, Jacob and his family visited Egypt so that he could see his dearly beloved son once again. On the way to Egypt, God called Jacob in a dream and told him to leave Canaan (the Promised Land) and move permanently to Egypt. This was a big step. In the same way Abraham’s future nation was tied up in his son Isaac, this same nation was promised the land of Canaan to live. And in the same way that killing Isaac would have killed their chances of being a nation, abandoning Canaan would kill their opportunity to secure the Promised Land. Could Jacob and his sons really leave it all behind and move to Egypt? But God made a promise to Jacob,
“I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”
GOD was promising here that He will fulfil His promise to make Israel a great nation, but this will happen in Egypt. God also promises to go with Jacob and that Israel (the nation) will come out of Egypt. But there is a sting in the end of this promise, Jacob will die in Egypt, he won’t live to see any of this happen. Jacob trusted God. He packed up his family and moved into Egypt, obeying God, despite the fact that it appeared that they were loosing Canaan, despite the fact that they were still not a great nation. As Jacob and his family moved into Egypt, we are told that this band of merry travellers constituted a grand total of 70 people. Even when it looked like they were losing the land they were promised and it looked like they’d given up hope on being a great nation, assimilating with the Egyptians, Jacob answered with “Here I am,” trusted God and held on to the promises and words of God.