Genesis 22:6–14 (NIV84)
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Imagine that it is your greatest desire to have children. Imagine having to wait until you are almost 100 years old to have your first child. Imagine being so happy to have your first child that you laugh out loud. Imagine naming that child based on your joyful laughter. Imagine, then, as that child grows up, being told by God to take your child and sacrifice him on an altar.
It is the kind of story that a new Christian might read and think, “What have I gotten myself into? God wanted Abraham to do what? This is the God I worship?”
God had promised to Abraham that his son, Isaac, would be his heir. But now God is telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. So which is it? Would Abraham’s line continue through Isaac as God had promised? Or would Abraham kill Isaac as God had commanded?
Being a Christian might sometimes feel like we live lives of contradiction. God promises that he will bless us. But who among us has not experienced heartache? How many of us have never faced uncertainty at work or at school?
The truth is that we face uncertainty every day. We live in a world steeped in sin, the result of which is discord between humanity and a holy God.
But God knows this about us. He knows our weaknesses and struggles. And he provides for us. In the case of Abraham, God demonstrated that he would always keep his promise. God would always provide for Abraham and his descendants.
To us God demonstrates the same commitment. In fact, through Abraham and Isaac God proves his love and provision for us. From the line of Abraham God sent us a substitute. He sent us a Savior who would die in our place. In other words, God did the very thing he had commanded Abraham to do.
What amazing love our God has for us. He never demands anything of us that he does not give us in Christ. He tells us to love our neighbor. What more perfect love toward neighbor could there be than to give up one’s life as Jesus did for us? He tells us to love him. What more perfect love toward God could there be than to submit completely to his Father’s will as Jesus did in sacrificing himself for us?
Jesus is your perfect substitute. Everything that God asks of you, he has given you in Christ.
PRAYER: Christ, what you weren’t, you became – foul and filthy; Cursed, people found you appalling. What I was not, I’ve become – found “Not guilty!” I need you now; hear me calling! Lord, I am ruined. I have left you; I need rescue. Lord, I am pleading: show your favor, be my Savior. Amen.