A.B. Simpson, the great Canadian preacher, used to tell the story of a father and a daughter. One day the father was sitting in his library reading one of his many books. At his feet was his little girl. She wore a cheap bead necklace around her neck as she played quietly.
Suddenly the father looked down at her and said, “Darling, do you love me?” The child answered, “Yes, Daddy, I love you more than anything else in the world.” Upon hearing that, the father said, “Then I want you to throw your necklace into the fire.”
Now the little girl was confused. “Daddy, do you really mean it?” she asked. “Yes,” said the father, “I really mean it. If you love me enough, you will want to please me at any cost.” The little girl didn’t respond immediately, but after a few agonizing seconds of inward turmoil she finally did stand up, walk over to the fireplace, take off her necklace, and throw it into the fire. Then she ran to her father, hugged him, and with tears in her eyes said, “Daddy, I don’t understand why you wanted me to do that, but I do love you.”
A few weeks later the father and child found themselves in that same library setting once again. This time, however, the father pulled a jewel case from his pocket, opened it, and brought out a beautiful necklace of real pearls. He reached it down to his daughter and said, “Darling, I want you to put these on your neck and wear them for me.” The child’s eyes filled with tears again as she gave her father another hug and said, “Daddy, I think I understand now.”
In Exodus 34:14, God illustrates how jealous He is by saying that His very name is Jealous. This shows us just how seriously He takes His relationship with His people. He doesn’t want anything or anyone to come between us and Him. Like a jealous spouse, God wants us all to Himself.
A.B. Simpson’s story reminds me of the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-19). The request was a test for Abraham, a test that would prove how much he loved God. Isaac was the miracle baby, the promised son that Abraham and his wife Sarah had waited 25 years to hold. Now God was commanding Abraham to travel to the land of Moriah and offer the now grown Isaac as a burnt offering. The whole thing seemed crazy to Abraham, but nevertheless he obeyed.
If you know the story, you know that God stopped Abraham just as Abraham was about to inflict the fatal blow with a knife. The test was over and Abraham had made an A+. The Angel of the Lord (an Old Testament preincarnate appearance of Jesus) then pronounced a great promise of blessing upon Abraham and his seed. Likening the story to A.B. Simpson’s, that was God handing Abraham an expensive pearl necklace.
Christian, the takeaway for each of us isn’t hard to understand. We must constantly stay on guard against allowing anything or anyone to come between us and God. Remember that God’s name is Jealous. That means that He is going to deal with whatever or whoever interferes with our relationship to Him. I don’t know what your “necklace” or your “Isaac” is, but you’d better make sure that it doesn’t become bigger than God in your life. And if God ever does ask you to give up something for Him, just know that He will reward you handsomely on the back end, not just in this life but in the one to come (Mark 10:28-30).