Genesis 22:1-13 God Will Provide WC McCarter
In chapter two we read about the father of faith, Abraham. We also read about his son and grandson who are the forefathers of the Hebrew people, Isaac and Jacob. In the “lower story” of the lives of these three men, we read all sorts of interesting events. In the “upper story” we can see that God is beginning the long process to redeem His people from the curse of sin. He must build a nation, and to do that he must choose a couple. God shows that this plan of redemption will be completely accomplished by Himself; so, He chooses a highly unlikely couple – Abram and Sarai (whose names are later changed). Abraham is not perfect, and neither are Isaac and Jacob. Honestly, they are far from perfect . . . but they trust in the promise of God. God chooses to take it upon Himself to establish a binding covenant with these men and their descendants.
I would like to narrow in on a certain passage of Scripture for this morning’s message. Of all the events in this chapter, one narrative really stands out. It has deep theological roots, and it has considerable consequences for our own lives.
The passage I am referring to is the one that describes God’s testing of Abraham. Abraham is told to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Can you imagine being asked to give up the thing/person that means the most to you? Why would God ask a person to do such a thing? This was a test to see if Abraham truly trusted the plan of God. Of course, Abraham was willing to do it – believing that God would raise Isaac back to life again if necessary.
(pp. 19-20) – This
is the Word of God Reading
Testing and Trusting
To test someone is to stretch some part of them to the limits. What is it that God is testing here? The text does not explicitly say, but it is implied that God is testing Abraham’s faith. In the same way our hearts may be tested with a stress test, God is seeing how strong Abraham’s faith really is by stretching it to its limits. Abraham is expected to trust God and obey Him in difficult circumstances. Of course, this is an isolated event. I cannot think of anywhere else in the Bible where God gives a command in order to test someone, but does not allow the person to carry the command out.
The issue is basically whether Abraham identifies more so with the covenant or with God. I fear this for many Christians. Do you indentify more so with a church or building than Christ, your Redeemer? Do you associate more so with the things of the faith than the object of our faith, the person of Christ? I am a “Christian” not because of some political move, or because it is the socially acceptable thing to do, or because my parents and grandparents were. I am a “Christian” because I belong to Christ. How about you? Why are you a Christian?
Abraham was about to do away with everything. He was about to sacrifice all the promises of God, the covenant, and much more. He was about to send history in a tailspin. If Isaac is sacrificed, mankind will be sent back into the period of darkness and sin with no hope. This is the family of the covenant. This is the child of promise. This is beginning of God’s plan to solve the sin problem, to save us. It is about to all be sacrificed and God is the One who has demanded it. As Abraham had trusted God in the past, he trusts God about this as well. As difficult as it was, he got up early in the morning, loaded a donkey, split the wood, and left with his son.
The Two of Them Went Together
God said go, and Abraham went. God said sacrifice your son, and Abraham took the knife to slay his son. What drama! What a heart wrenching, soul stretching, emotional event. Twice in the text it reads that “the two of them went together.” Was Isaac so naïve? Maybe, but perhaps he knew what was asked as well and was willing to lay down his life for his God. We already know from verse one of the chapter that Isaac would not be sacrificed. This was only a test. But Abraham and Isaac do not know this. The two of them went together to do what God had commanded them to do. Abraham had said, “Here I am.” What great determination of faith.
Isaac realized that they had fire and wood, but no sacrifice. He asks his father, and Abraham makes that tremendous and famous, ultimately prophetic statement, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
Now I Know that You Fear God
In the same way that a loved one knows that you love them, but expects you to demonstrate that love, God expects us to demonstrate our faith during trying times. He knows our hearts, but requires that we act it out. In the upper story, God never intended for Isaac to be sacrificed. God does not require child sacrifice as the pagan gods were said to crave it. No, our God requires faith. That is what was shown from Abraham that day.
An Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham from heaven. He says, “. . . for now I know that you fear God. . . .” That is what this was about. Did Abraham fear God? His faith was tested and it proved strong. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. He believed him when God made the promise and when God asked him to sacrifice the promise.
Instead of His Son
The Lord provided a sacrifice. The intention was never for Isaac to be sacrificed, at least not in the upper story. But in the lower story, Abraham had every intention of following the word of the Lord. Abraham believed that God would fulfill His promise of many descendants. He believed that God could and would honor that promise even though he had been asked to offer up the son of that promise because God would either offer a substitute (God Himself will provide the lamb) or raise his son back to life again.
A ram was seen caught in the thicket by its horns immediately after the Angel spoke. The Lord had provided the sacrifice. The Lord had provided a substitute for Isaac. The Lord had provided. “So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.”
Conclusion- Finding Your Story in God’s Story
1) God does not tempt anyone to sin. His tests are not meant to cause someone to stumble, but are to make one’s faith stronger. So, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
2) God has promised that He will provide. In all of the promises He has made in Scripture, He is telling us, “I will provide.” Trust Him on a daily basis to provide nourishment for your soul.
3) Notice the striking similarities between this great test and the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
A. Isaac was to be sacrificed; Christ was sacrifices on the cross of
B. The wood was placed on Isaac’s back; the cross was placed on Christ and He carried it through the streets.
C. Abraham, the father, would be the one to sacrifice his son, Isaac; God the Father would sacrifice His only Son, Jesus Christ.
*What is the only difference? Abraham was stopped and a ram was substituted in place of Isaac. The sacrifice of Christ could not be stopped. This was the plan of God, the eternal plan of redemption. Jesus Christ was offered up as a substitute for all of us. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.